‘A GP Practice Nursing placement as a Student Children’s Nurse’

#hellomynameis Aliya and I am a 2nd year student children’s nurse. At the beginning of my second year, I began a nine-week long placement across two GP surgeries, working predominantly with two practice nurses. I wanted to write about and reflect on this placement as I feel it is less talked about than other placements and has a tendency to fall into the shadows. It strikes me as being somewhat undervalued and underappreciated by student children’s nurses, and I wanted to share a bit of insight into why it is such a brilliant placement and what you can gain from it.

Before starting this placement, amongst my excitement, I was somewhat hesitant. Practice nursing? This is a community post often undertaken by those trained in adult nursing, and I was studying paediatrics. From the little insight I had into this field of nursing, I had no idea what to expect. I was really intrigued by what practice nurses did day-to-day, however, what I knew for certain was that the day would entail working predominantly with adult patients. I was nervous at this prospect, as in all honesty, I was unsure of its relevance to my development as a children’s nurse. Was my exposure to children going to be limited? It was. But I couldn’t have been more wrong: learning to work with adults was one of the most invaluable skills I have developed.

Although very different to a typical paediatric hospital ward, this does not make the placement any less useful or interesting. Something I valued so much on this placement was the number of clinical skills I was able to master- simply due to the fact adults (on the whole!) sit still when you are carrying out procedures. Anyone who has worked with children knows how difficult it can be to get them to sit still! For example, administering injections was something I would have been so nervous to do for the first time on a child, in case they wriggled and I messed up. Doing so many on adults meant I built up masses of confidence in feeling comfortable knowing where and how to administer them safely. This now means when it comes to administering injections in a child, I can be swift in my movements knowing I am putting patient safety at the forefront with minimal distress for the child. Similarly, with procedures such as ECGs, I learned very quickly how to do these on tolerant adults who were willing to let me try multiple times to get it right!

My mentors were also brilliant throughout at supporting me, taking the time to go through even the most basic of things. I skipped out of that placement being able to complete a successful manual blood pressure and obtain an accurate reading- something I never really got the chance to achieve when working on hospital wards where machines take centre stage. Never underestimate the power of being able to take a manual BP! Having the time to ensure basic skills such as these are covered work wonders for your confidence when going back onto the wards.

Not only did I find it useful working with adults from a clinical perspective, it also opened my eyes into the world of holistic care and communicating in a different way. That is never a bad thing: adults sometimes don’t understand things, just as children won’t- taking the time to explain things clearly to a patient can make so much difference to their experience, just like if you were explaining a child’s treatment to an anxious parent. I witnessed safeguarding and social concerns, which often involved some investigating: why did that elderly person keep coming in with reoccurring leg wounds? Why was that parent so against their child being vaccinated? You come into contact with so many different people from different walks of life that you develop invaluable ways of communicating with people that you may have never believed you could.

On reflection, I have gathered some key tips I would pass on to any student about to undertake a practice nursing placement. Firstly, I would encourage anybody lucky enough to experience this placement to welcome it with open arms- it may be a placement you were not expecting as a student children’s nurse, but don’t let this throw you off. It has been mentioned in a previous blog post about taking a ‘silver-lining’ approach when it comes to looking for opportunities to learn, and I couldn’t resonate with this more- ask as many questions as you can, reflect on situations and why this will help you develop as a children’s nurse. At the end of the day, there will always be some placements you enjoy more or less than others, but that’s the beauty of getting such a variety of placements- it will help you to decide what type of role is best for you, whether it is out in the community or on the wards.

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students and teaching fellows only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or, the University of Surrey.

If you’re interested in writing a blog post for us – whether it’s a one-off about something in Nursing you’re passionate on, or as a regular contributor, please email Chloe Thomas (ct00633@surrey.ac.uk) or Aliya Stratford (as03037@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!