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Clinical placement tips

Clinical placement tips

Your clinical placements are opportunities to expand and consolidate your knowledge and skills in preparation for your future practice.

They are also an exposure opportunity, to experience working in hospitals and health services and can foster professional contacts which may be beneficial when seeking referees for your graduate program applications.

ANMF recommend that you ensure that you are prepared well in advance of your first clinical placement by following these simple steps:

1. Be Prepared

  • Organise your paperwork early for things such as:
    • gaining your police check, working with children checks or your National Disability Check (NDIS) where required
    • ensuring all your mandatory immunisations are up to date and know your immunisation status is current (check the requirements with your university) as well as your COVID vaccination status
    • any clinical placement workbooks or assessment materials or other necessary materials that your clinical teacher is required to be aware of, for your assessment/s.
    • Universities need these documents uploaded prior to allocating your clinical placement so if you have them ready to go, that will decrease a risk of placement allocation delay.
  • Bring your required paraphernalia, like your stethoscope, fob watch, pen, note pad, etc. A bum bag can be quite useful to carry everything around.
  • In case of an emergency or if you require assistance, have the contact details of your clinical coordinator and placement facilitator saved in your phone.
  • If you suddenly need to leave your clinical placement before your shift ends (EG: family emergency) notify your allocated buddy AND the ANUM/AMUM – in-charge before leaving. You will also need to notify your university ASAP.
  • Consider doing a ‘dry run’ – travel to your placement site beforehand to time how long it takes to get there and work out the best places to park/walk from the closest tram or train stop. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early, as it is amazing how long it can take for a lift to arrive in big hospitals at double staffing time.
  • Food prep is a game changer, pack lots of snacks and healthy meals. Food is fuel!

2. Revision

  • Consider a review of all relevant course work that is relevant to your placement, or you know is to be assessed on the particular placement.
  • Contemplate reflective practice or what you have already learnt or have been assessed on to ensure you build on your knowledge and skill acquisition.
  • Focused preparation can help ease any nerves, and to remind you of the learning objectives outlined in your learning resources.
  • Investigate the common conditions of patients or clients in the service you are allocated to for your clinical experience and consider doing some self-directed research on the usual nursing/midwifery care you are likely to come across.
  • Understand the limitations of your student placement in terms of your requirement to work under the supervision and delegation of a registered nurse/midwife at all times.
  • Understand if you are also a RUSON/RUSOM, you have a different scope of practice and expectations for clinical placement, ensure you don’t confuse them!

3. Appearance

  • Ensure your presentation is impeccable, and your attire is professional and in accordance with your education provider’s policies. If there is no uniform policy, ensure your clothes are neat, clean and comply with your workplace uniform standard.
  • Your shoes must be clean, sturdy, non-slip sole and have enclosed toes.
  • Pay attention to personal grooming as these are potential health and safety risks:
    • Tie back long hair securely.
    • Ensure your nails are clean, natural and trimmed short. Artificial nails or nail polish are generally not acceptable as they are a risk spread of microorganisms and infectious agents. Long nails are also a skin tear risk for patients with fragile skin.
  • Ensure you are compliant with relevant organisational policy about facial or body piercings.
  • Ensure compliance with any infection control and personal protective equipment requirements including respirator fit-testing, donning and doffing of PPE and hand hygiene.

3. Professionalism

Remember that students on clinical placement are representing their education provider and you are their public image to the profession. You are also being assessed as a future Nurse and Midwife and must adhere to the NMBA standards of practice.

  • Check the policies of your education provider and host health service. If in doubt, ask in advance.  If your ‘professionalism’ comes into question this can have dire consequences for your course progression.
  • Be mindful of patient privacy and confidentiality.
  • Review the Nursing and Midwifery Board’s ‘Social media: How to meet your obligations under the National Law’ guidance and ANMF’s ‘Use of social media and online networking’ guidelines before your placement. It doesn’t matter if your privacy settings are set high, your posts may be screenshot and forwarded, potentially leaving you responsible for damage caused by such content.
  • Punctuality is important. If you’re not on time, you may be sent home. If you are running late, be sure to let your placement contact know as soon as you can.

4. Communication

  • Be mindful of where you are and when who you are talking to (even if you’re in the lift or walking in and out of the facility).
  • Don’t forget to dispose patient handover sheets in the confidential waste bin at the end of your shift.
  • Be clear, courteous and professional. Don’t use shorthand or slang. Ensure that your facilitators are informed about your nursing/midwifery care and what activities and assessments you have completed.
  • Any information passed on to you from a patient, relative, visitor or staff should be promptly communicated to your colleagues.

5. Your health and wellbeing is important

  • Reach out to your family and friends and other networks
  • Remember there are support services available such as the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV).
    • NMHPV offer free counselling and coaching for all nurses and midwives including students and can help all of us catch our breath and provide support and strategies for whatever you may be facing through studies, work or at home.
    • Phone 03 9415 7551 or email.

If you are in doubt, always ask your clinical facilitator or supervising registered nurse/midwife (preceptor), this is how you learn. Experienced nurses and midwives are available to assist you if they know what you are striving to achieve on your placement.

Above all, make sure you make the most of your clinical time. Don’t forget to enjoy your learning experience and seek out as many learning opportunities as you can, as every experience you can achieve builds your body of knowledge and prepares you for independent practice once you are registered.