Nursing PAL Newsletter

Childrens and Mental Health Nursing PAL Leaders, 2nd year students.

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A group of nursing students in a clinical skills session stood over a manikin.


We are sad to say that Vicki Parkin, our Adult PAL Leader, will be leaving us due to personal circumstances. She will be very much missed within our team and I am sure by our students too. However, she will not be far away as she has now agreed to take on the volunteer position!

The Union of Students are looking to refill her post but in the mean time Tony and Sian will continue to support and as your Nursing PAL Leaders, continuing to provide sessions and resources.


Your Role on Placement

Firstly, as obvious as it sounds it can be easy to get mixed up in the rush of looking after patients, but your main role is to learn. Naturally as an aspiring nurse it can be easy to get stuck in and help with the workload; arguably this will aid your understanding about the running of your placement area. However, do not forget that you are supernumerary, and your main objective is to learn key skills to qualify and become an accountable professional.

As you progress through your training you will be able demonstrate different skills and by the end of your training you should be competent in all areas, as outlined in the NMC (2018) Future Nurse Standards of Proficiencies. So, what can you do as a student and what must you NOT do?

It is your first week on your placement and you are getting orientated around, meeting staff and patients. Then you get asked where you are in your training? In a timid response you reply, I am in my first year and this is my first week, on my first placement... well, I certainly did. I feared doing anything! In my first year I was asked if I wanted to administer an IM injection and I honestly thought the nurse was mad asking, but I can now proudly say that I have given my first injection in my 2nd year. What I am trying to say is that you do not need to know how to do everything straight away, it will come. The most important thing to do is talk to your supervisors, assessors and personal academic tutors about your confidence levels, your knowledge, and skills before participating in anything that could harm the patient, yourself, or others. In addition, some of your peers may be practicing at different levels to you and that is ok, concentrate on your learning outcomes but ask your peers for advice and/or revision sessions.

You are assessed on your proficiencies and skills annex; therefore, this is what you should be focusing on when out on placement. Print them off and have them to hand when writing reflections or talking to your assessors and supervisors about your learning outcomes. You can request to partake in certain clinical procedures or aspects of care if they are going to fulfil your learning outcomes or expand your knowledge. You are also allowed to ask for insight visits to other locations that are related to that placement area, this will give you insight to working inter-professionally, understanding your patient’s care pathway.

What you can and can not do on placement will vary depending on your skill level, where you are in your training and the legalities around it, however, next we will be a discussion around policies outlining your role as a student.

Finding Policies

It can be hard to know what to read and where to find it. But it is our responsibility to read and understand policies set around our professional practice whilst learning. Here is a list of places where we can find some of the policies and guidance outlining your role as a student nurse. It is imparative that as a student we take responsibility for our own learning and be proficient in finding appropriate information related to our practice.

  • NMC – The Code; Future Nurse Standards of Proficiencies; Standards for Medicine Management
  • RCN – Student Nurses
  • Blackboard – Practice Assessment Part 1 – Placement Policies, Uniform Policy, Change of placement criteria, Support for students whilst on placement.
  • Local policies from your placement Trust – you can usually find these on the intranet, you can speak to your supervisors and assessors about these.

The key message to take away is to preserve safety. Therefore, remember it's OK to decline doing a task if you know you are not allowed to practice i.e. administering blood products; if it is beyond your skill set; you do not understand why it is being done for that patient; or you know it is bad practice. However, do read around learning opportunities, ask lots of questions, always be supervised by a registered healthcare professional when performing a procedure and ask them countersign anything you document.

You asked, We did

In this section we wanted to celebrate where our Nursing PAL's Team is at the moment. As you are all aware PAL was taken over by the Union of Students who are currently running the pilot project. We are proud to have such a big group and have already been having great feedback from you guys. We would like to celebrate what we have acheieved so far.

So let's look back at our brief time with the PAL's pilot project:

  • We have facilitated 3 live workshop sessions around subjects that you wanted to go through and provided a recording for those that were not able to make it.
  • During your first placement we made ourselves available each week for drop in sessions to allow you to ask questions and have a safe-place to offload if needed.
  • We have been building up our resources within the Team to hopefully provide you with easy access to information.
  • We had our first Rep meeting, discussing your needs for future planning our support for you.
  • Employed a PAL Volunteer to support in live sessions and help us identify those of you with questions and will be advertising for more volunteers.

PAL Nursing Updates:

Soon we will be inviting the new March 2021 cohorts to join in the Nursing PALs Team and already have plans in place to support whilst in their new programme. For September 2020 Cohort here is what we have planned heading into March/April:

  • We will be inviting some 2nd year students to talk about their experiences of studying nursing through a pandemic.
  • How to get signed off on your proficiencs
  • Keep an eye out for a 'Referencing Crash Course'
  • In March we will be hosting our next live session with your up-and-coming ANPC assignment due in April.


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