Recently I completed my Practice Assessor training, and it made me reflect on my experiences of being supported as a student nurse and the support I have given others.
Nearly 12 months on from completing my Practice Supervisor (PS) training, I have found myself taking that next step to become a Practice Assessor (PA). If you’d asked me this time last year whether I’d be signing up to be a PA before I’d reached twelve months of being a Registered Nurse, I probably would have said “don’t be silly” but I am so pleased that I’ve done it and am now able to support students even more. I know too well that feeling before interim and final assessments while on placement and I’d like to bring that empathy to my practice as a PA.
As a student nurse, I heard others say on numerous occasions “students are our future” and I feel that it is crucial that we support them as much as possible while they are on their practice placements. Each member of the multi-disciplinary team has something to contribute to aid the learning of our students, you may feel that your knowledge, practice and expertise isn’t as meaningful as another colleague – I can tell you now that it is. Every individual, every interaction, big or small, helps shape the student in front of you into the registered nurse of the future. Make the most of it: share, influence, encourage.
There are a number of healthcare professionals who I will remember fondly from my time as a student nurse who I can hand on heart tell you shaped me into the nurse I am today. Not all of whom were my PS or PA (back then they were called buddies and mentors). Some I spent a single shift with, others were members of the wider team. It just goes to show that you may only spend one shift with that learner, but you can have a huge impact on them and future patient care.
Currently my personal approach to supporting learners in practice includes getting to know them better, as being a student nurse is only a small piece of the puzzle of that individual in front of me. It includes encouraging them to make the most out of their time by setting ambitious objectives and sharing potential learning opportunities to see which lands with them best. It includes a strong emphasis on the importance of reflection, both when things go well and not so well so that they can grow and learn from experiences. I am sure my approach will develop over time too.
I know that there are others who, like me, have not been on the NMC register for long who are also PA’s, and those who are considering it but may not have signed up for the training yet. The more of us who share our experiences of supporting learners in practice, the more who will step forward to do so too.
Our students are our future, let’s support them to be the best they can be and fall in love with the breadth and depth of nursing over and over again.