Introducing student nurses to a career in care

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Many student nurses have preconceived ideas about the different areas of healthcare and how they would like their career to progress. Undertaking placements can dispel myths and sometimes even change the course of a nurse’s original chosen career path.

Marilyn Kaliczak (RGN), Deputy Manager at Barchester Healthcare’s Cubbington Mill Care Home in Warwickshire, explains why she enjoys teaching student nurses so much:

“I have been here for a year now and during that time we’ve had four first year students on placement with us from Coventry University. Having been a clinical trainer in my previous role, I get great joy in seeing students develop and flourish while they are here with us. Teaching them to trust the skills they are learning and watching them grow in confidence makes me proud to be part of helping the next generation of nurses.”

“Working at a care home is a very different environment to the hospital wards where the majority of student placements occur. Here, we teach students not only the clinical skills needed for their nursing career but also the holistic person-centred care that is at the heart of Barchester homes and hospitals."

"Seeing a nurse-led unit in action can be a shock to many of the student nurses. They are used to having doctors present in the hospital telling them what to do. Here, we make the decisions and have complete autonomy over the clinical care of our residents. It means the students can build a more balanced relationship with doctors than they would in a hospital.

In a care home, you are the specialist when it comes to your residents. As we work with multidisciplinary teams, residents and their families on an ongoing basis, we are teaching students about communication in addition to their clinical skills. ”

Leah Devlin, who is on placement at Cubbington Mill from Coventry University, agrees: “In the hospital we look at the condition initially rather than the person. That’s just how hospitals are, but here, care is much more person-centric.

I am working in the resident’s home, so I am actively encouraged to spend time talking to them, putting them at ease and really getting to know them. Knowing the person is often the best way of sensing when a problem might be starting or escalating. And maybe even more importantly, it helps me understand their emotional wellbeing. I know lots of different residents’ routines now, which makes them really happy."

"I wanted to become a nurse to give people the kind of care that I would want my family to receive. I wanted a career that I could feel passionate about, that would be varied and last a lifetime. Nursing is a calling for me and so far I am enjoying all aspects of it. Being at the care home is so different and I am learning a lot.”

Leah admits she was initially a little apprehensive about working in a care home for elderly residents: “I was anxious about a placement here. I didn’t really see the need for nurses in a care home. I just thought it was about being kind to people. But I really shouldn’t have worried."

"I never realised how much nurses do in a care home. I have learnt about end of life care – and how when people are in the right environment they feel dignified, peaceful and settled. I have also learnt a lot about medications: their side effects, benefits and what to look out for when measuring out dosages."

"The teamwork is also something that makes working here really special. I feel I can ask any question and someone will always take the time to talk me through it. It’s a great all round experience because I work not just with Marilyn but also care assistants, other nurses and managers. The atmosphere is so positive. I’m not Nurse Devlin here; I’m Leah. I would never have considered nursing in a care home before coming here, but now I am.”

Marilyn says: “The students add so much to our care home. We learn from them too. They are a fresh pair of eyes and the residents love talking with them, telling them their stories and listening to them. It also gives the students a good understanding of care from a different perspective. We love having them here and look forward to the rest of Leah’s placement and many more to come.”

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