Children’s Nursing

Juggling your placement with everything else in your life

So I’ve been asked to write about juggling, university life with placement and socialising and everything in between. I thought I would start by laying down a few facts about placements which may help you understand my later explanation…

Our placement allocations for the BSc & PGDip Pre-Registration courses (courses to learn to be a nurse) are based on your term-time postcode in year 1 of the programme. The rule KCL operates is that you shall never have to travel more than 1hr 15mins to get to your placement from your home. If for example you live in Bedford or Hastings and commute into London, the 1 hour and 15 minutes commences from when you reach your major mainland rail station eg. Blackfriars, Paddington, King’s Cross etc. not when you leave your house, this is important to bear in mind.

When this has been calculated, you will be allocated a ‘host trust’ an NHS trust (which may be made up of more than one hospital) which you will have all your placements at. Examples include: Guy’s & St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital(s) & Imperial Healthcare Trust. It is not possible to choose your trust, unless you have been seconded from them in which case you will be allocated to them.

Some people are disappointed with their allocation, but remember there is no such thing as a ‘perfect trust/placement’. Each hospital(s) will offer different and varying opportunities, but KCL has appraised them all as sufficiently good to send their high-calibre students to.

Remember you also have an elective placement (which you can pick anywhere OUTSIDE KCL’s host trusts in the UK or abroad) to travel to. So if you want to undertake an experience in a particular speciality or field of healthcare you can, using this placement. It’s also a good opportunity for you to go to a hospital you may wish to work at, if it’s not one of our host trusts, to make a name for yourself and get your foot in the door!

Something people ask a lot about is how you cope with university work and placement? Well personally (and I am quite academic) my university work took top priority all the time, apart from when I was attending placement when the children and their families are my only focus! When in a block of placements, on my days I wasn’t allocated to work, I used to get up at the same time as a placement day (especially this year – final year) and work pretty solidly from 8am – 6pm on my dissertation and other assignments. Now this won’t suit everyone, however by doing this the results show for themselves and remember although nursing isn’t all about the academic work, you need to complete your degree in order to register as a nurse, so the work should never be neglected or left to the last minute.

Some of you may have heard of ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ (picture below). Well for a presentation I did recently, I came up with ‘Jamie’s hierarchy of priorities’ which helped me to order and prioritise my time during busy periods. Yours may be very different, but it’s worth considering where your values lie and what’s important to you and what can be put on hold.


When we’re on placement we have a document called a PAD (practice assessment document). All London universities use the same document so it’s called a PLPAD (pan-London PAD). This gives us objectives and key skills and values we need to demonstrate during our part of the course.  We have different PADs with different content/objectives each year/progression point of the program (year1/2/3 for BSC or month 0/8/16 for PGDip). If you’re interested, a guide to our PADs for students and nursing mentors, can be found here.

Although many of the trusts have adult nursing, child nursing and sometimes MH nursing facilities, I have to admit I have very rarely seen students from the adult or MH groups, while I am on placement – however I see an awful lot of my child nursing colleagues. Some of us will be working on the same wards or wards nearby and my host trust provides weekly teaching for all children’s nurses to attend – so we get to have a catch up there as well. During university times we often have lectures and seminars with adult nursing and mental health nursing students though and some lectures/seminars with children’s nurses. The BSc and PGDip programmes rarely mix.

Another thing muggles (non-nursing folk) ask all the time is how you cope with the hours we do – 12.5 hours on a day shift (07:30-20:00) and the same on a night shift (19:30-08:00), 24/7, 365 days a year – bank holidays, Christmas and your birthday (potentially). Well to be honest, you just have to knuckle down and crack on with it! The days hardly ever drag and they go quickly, because you’re on your feet pretty much constantly.

You have to remember that patients and their families are in hospital 24/7 and they don’t get rest breaks or to go home at the end of the day. To be honest the quality of sleep patients get in hospital is also very low, so really when we think about them and what they’re going through, on their patient journey, our days don’t seem so bad…However, our job is a stress on your emotions and on you physically sometimes. We all have different ways or strategies to cope with these stresses, but never feel alone!

We do get breaks, (adding up to 1 hour) some places have 2x 30 minute breaks while others allow a small (discretionary break in the morning) and then an 1 hour in the afternoon. Depending on the ward dynamics and timings, you may not always get all of your break and sometimes you may leave your shift late. None of us wants these things to happen, nor in an ideal world should they – especially to supernumerary students, but this is the reality of nursing and if the child and family need us, we will never leave them in the lurch!

You should ideally be going into a placement willing to work any shift within the X amount of weeks you’re there for, however you are permitted to put in up to 5 requests to work a particular shift OR not to work it for every 4 weeks you are there. These are granted at the discretion of the key mentor / student roster writer and aren’t guaranteed until the roster is approved.


I hope this has provided you with some basic information and my take on life on placement. What you must remember is that being a nurse/student is a wonderful rewarding career when you can make a tangible difference to a child’s life, not just at that moment but one that’ll last their life of 80, 90 maybe even 100 years! That is such a privilege, but that’s not to say it is always easy and nursing is definitely a lifestyle rather than ‘day job’.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me to ask:

Funding for nursing students explained by Melissa

My name is Melissa, and I am a postgraduate Adult Nursing student. In this blog I’ll be talking about funding.

Despite recent changes to the funding for undergraduate healthcare subjects, postgraduate diplomas are thankfully unaffected and diploma students will still be entitled to the NHS funded programme of study. This means that not only are your tuition fees paid for but, depending on whether you would be considered an independent (financially self-supporting) or a dependent student (financially reliant on one’s parent(s)/guardian), you may also be able to receive fiscal support for living costs. Click here to find out more!

So how does this process work? Once you receive an offer from King’s – whether it be unconditional or conditional – you will be prompted by UCAS to apply for your bursary. It is important to note that all students who apply to have their tuition fees paid for will receive a £1,000 annual bursary which is not means tested. So around March you can apply for your NHS Bursary, but you have until the end of May to apply and receive your allowance on time for the start of term. The application process is made simple through its step-by-step guide on what to do and, once you’ve filled in the online application with the relevant financial information, you will need to send off relevant original documentation to the given address. It is highly recommended that you use recorded delivery due to the importance of the documents.

Special allowances are also added to an individual’s entitlement, should they be eligible. This includes extra funding for childcare and adult dependents, among others. A London-weighting is also provided due to the high cost of living within a big city.

Once the whole process is complete you’ll be able to log into your account to see how much you are entitled to, and when you will receive your payment. However if your circumstances change during your studies, you are contracted to inform NHS Bursary and your allowance will follow suit. For example, if you are a classified as a dependent student living at home, and throughout the year you move out into your own accommodation, all you will need to do is fill in a ‘Change in circumstance’ form and send it off and your allowance will be altered.

Entitlement to the NHS Bursary is not at all affected by whether you possess a previous degree and/or a previous set of loans.

Lastly it’s important to stress that this may all seem rather daunting and possibly discouraging, but there are many opportunities to find work through King’s College London in order to obtain extra income. King’s also gives away annual scholarships and there is a Hardship Fund which provides eligible students struggling financially with monetary support.

Though the application process may be new and rather time-consuming, NHS Bursaries are the link to higher development and bright career aspects for many individuals. I can attest to this fact as I love my current studies and the career I’m moving into – and that wouldn’t be possible without going through this funding process. We here at King’s encourage you to research your options in regards to funding, and not allow finances to be a barrier between you and your destined career.

For the full list of funding scholarship and funding opportunities click here.

Best wishes,

Melissa Vandy

Adult Nursing

Have an offer to study Nursing at King’s? Deborah is here to help

I’m a 3rd year BSc Mental Health student at King’s and I’m one of the student buddies.  I’m here to help students through this exciting and even daunting decision time. I aim to provide you with information that may answer some of your queries or concerns and help you make one of the most important decisions of your life so far. I know what it feels like because I was in your position not that long ago.

So I’m guessing you probably want to know about funding for the Nursing course. As we are all aware, there have been plenty of changes over the last year in relation to funding which are hard to keep up with.

If you are applying to King’s to study Nursing, here’s what you need to know:

From 2017 new Nursing and Midwifery pre-registration students will have access to the same student loans system as other students. You will pay the loan back when you start earning a certain amount of money after your degree. You might get extra money on top of this, for example if you’re on a low income, are disabled or have children. You can find hints and tips on how to manage your budget here:

If you are applying to King’s you have the opportunity to apply for Nursing and Midwifery scholarships. These are available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. More information about scholarships is available here .


Good luck!

Deborah Ayodele


The Rewards of Being a Nurse

I believe that nursing as a career is a rewarding experience because you are caring for people from all backgrounds alongside colleagues who are hard-working, like-minded and supportive.

As a nurse I care passionately about improving people’s lives. Nursing is a career for people who enjoy working within a multi-disciplinary team. Nursing can be a career for life, allowing flexible working hours, which will suit people with family responsibilities.

There is also good job stability as the need for nurses is always high. The ability to develop a career within a variety of settings allows for good personal development.

Nursing gives you a qualification that provides you with the ability to work wherever you like and the opportunity to travel to other cities, or countries, with a set of valuable universal skills.

Nursing allows you to experience areas where healthcare provision is very different to ours and you can appreciate what we have access to here. You can shape your career as you wish, as there are so many branches and specialisms of nursing to work within. You will gain a lot of insight from the people you care for, their experiences and other members of the healthcare team.

Facing new challenges is exciting. There are always developments in healthcare to which you need to adapt. Continuing training is available throughout your career to enable you to feel competent.

It is fulfilling working within a meaningful profession where you can make a difference to someone’s experience. The skills you learn help you to feel more prepared to handle emergencies at home with family and friends. Most of all it’s the people you care for that make the job worthwhile as you learn so much from them – they are the people that make you a nurse.

Rachel, 2nd Year PG Dip Children’s Nursing

For more information on Children’s Nursing, click here.

My pathway into Children’s Nursing

I applied for BSc Children’s Nursing when I was 25 years old. Prior to this, I studied and graduated with a BA in English and American Studies. Not really knowing what I wanted to do after graduation, I accepted a job my friend signposted me to: working on a summer play scheme with children with severe learning and physical disabilities and behaviour. It was a tough four weeks and a very steep learning curve, but I realised that I loved the rewarding nature of this work and the children.

I worked for four years in special schools, community play schemes and respite. During those years I toyed with the idea of nursing and also looked into teaching. However, I only wanted to work in special schools which proved a difficult route and also very limiting to me in terms of progression and scope. I finally made the decision to go into children’s nursing, realising that the job would be perfect for me as I really enjoyed working with parents, supporting children with life-long and life-limiting conditions, the wide variety of specialities that there are in paediatrics and the opportunity to move around these areas of expertise.

My previous work experiences were really beneficial to me especially the practice placements. The challenging nature of my background means that in most circumstances I am calm and able to problem solve and my experience of supporting very stressed parents has been invaluable. Rather than the practical side of the nursing course, I was more worried about the academic side.

Having accepted a place at King’s College London, it dawned on me that the academia would be testing. However, there was no need to worry as the support from academic and other staff within the university was, and is, brilliant. Another large body of support comes from your peers. When people say that you make friends for life on your nursing course, they are telling the truth. The course can be very hard at times and the people on your course are going through exactly the same things as you are – it is only natural you bond!

Not only has the course itself been life affirming, but I have had the opportunity to do more than I ever realised and it has stretched me beyond all capabilities I ever thought I had possessed. I am part of the KCL Nursing and Midwifery Society and I am the sub-editor of the nursing and midwifery section of the GKT Gazette, the oldest hospital journal in the world. I have had opportunities in practice, as I am placed in a tertiary centre of excellence, such as observing innovative spinal surgery and experiencing neonatal research which is not practiced anywhere else in the UK. Despite the challenges faced by the NHS, I feel really privileged to be a part of amazing multi-disciplinary teams and, more importantly, of families’ lives in what is arguably the worst situation they may ever find themselves in if their child is very poorly. This is what gets me through the tough times during the course. This is nursing – a profession I am proud to be joining.

Charli, 3rd Year, BSc Children’s Nursing

For more information on Children’s Nursing, click here.

A Day In The Life Of A Student Nurse On A Children’s Ward

05:30 Alarm goes off… I grunt and roll out of bed! *YAWN*

05:45 I always have breakfast before I start placement, as you need energy from the second you arrive! I am very precise so always have the same thing (Frosties and a glass of orange juice) but your breakfast needs to have energy/carbs in it!

06:30 I scramble my bits together as I may not have always packed my bag the night before, uniform – check, lunch – check, notepad for writing down new learning – check, pen (AND SPARE!) – check, ID card and badge – check. Ready to head out the door.

07:15 Arrive at placement and change (nurses aren’t allowed to travel in the uniform). I then go to the staff room and make sure I’m all ready for handover and to be allocated.

07:30 Handover from the night staff starts (there’s usually a lot of yawning and reluctance – never from the students though!!) We are given an overview of all the ward patients and then allocated specific patients who will be in the care of my mentor and me for the day. I will then normally discuss with my mentor which patients I would like to take leadership of caring for; I also tell them about my aims for the day and what I hope to achieve in my assessment booklet.

08:00 By this time we’ll have had our second handover from the individual nurses who’ve been caring for our patients overnight. I always make a plan which looks like a table, with timings and tasks to prioritise my day. Many patients’ medications are due around

0800-0900 so I will also log onto MedChart (digital drug chart) and check on when my patients are due meds as I don’t want to give any important ones late or miss any out.

09:00 By this time I will have settled into a routine and have finished any morning medications. The doctors will often start coming round to see how the patients were overnight. It’s always vital to go round with them to answer their questions and receive any updates or changes to how we should care for the patients. It’s hard to juggle listening to the doctors while being required to help other professionals or families, but you must ensure you spend equal time with everyone.

10:00 Normally at 10am blood pressures and other measurements are taken on our patients – some have this done more often, some less often. This normally takes 5 mins per child.

11:00 Definitely time for my break. I always bring snacks to keep my energy levels up and I take 5 minutes of my break to regroup and check my schedule/ to-do list – then I know what I need to do when I return. The staff room is always chatty and you’re never alone on your break, even if you have it at a funny time.

12:00 This signals the arrival of the lunch trolley *Bell Rings* some patients need help getting their lunch or eating their lunch, so I always like to walk the ward and check everyone is eating and has someone to help them if they need it. It is normally quieter after lunch and some of the children will head off to the hospital school if they haven’t already visited in the morning.

13:00-15:00 During this time we complete many of the day’s tasks which can include chasing referrals, meeting with other professionals to discuss the care of our patients or discharging our patients – it varies so much from day-to-day. We also write our nursing notes about the care and condition of our patients. We now do this on a computer so there’s often a squabble for access to one of our computers on wheels! At 2pm we also have to repeat blood pressure and all the other measurements again.

16:00 By 4pm its time for a second break and a main meal (I’m not sure which meal this counts as). Again, I check my list and usually plan what’s going to happen next.

17:00 It’s the supper trolley now. After supper is a bit of a rush, but often the patients are distracted by visitors or by volunteers who come and play with them and natter to them. This means we have a little bit of time to check medicines and ensure we’ve completed all our tasks.

18:00 I like to grab my mentor at this point for five minutes of feedback/discussion and see if she needs anything doing and vice-a-versa. I get her to complete the daily paperwork in my practice booklet and normally administer some 6pm medicines with her.

19:00 By now we should be preparing for handover to the night team, ensuring we are all clear on the jobs front and can give succinct information to the night team about our patients. Often you have a spare five minutes to talk to a patient or natter to a family.

20:00 End of the shift! YEY! An exhausting but pleasurable feeling. I don’t normally remember much after I leave as I’m so tired but I seem to make it home safe, ready to do it all again tomorrow…

Jamie, 2nd Year BSc, Children’s Nursing

For more information on Children’s Nursing, click here.