Nursing placements

My elective nursing placement in Sri Lanka was an eye opener

Earlier this year, as part of my BSc Adult Nursing course, I completed an elective nursing placement in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, with Work the World. I didn’t know what to expect, and I knew it would be a lot of work to organise and fund, but I love travelling so the opportunity to do a placement abroad was too good to pass up – and I am so glad I did it.

Despite considering myself to be fairly open-minded and culturally aware before my trip, the whole experience was a complete eye-opener. I learned so much about Sri Lankan culture, healthcare and myself – both as a person and an aspiring nurse.

I did encounter some problems, often as a consequence of the language barrier, such as being unable to communicate with staff and patients as well as I had been able to during my UK placements. At times I also felt helpless or disheartened when observing differences in practice, which were often the result of limited resources or contrasting cultural beliefs. However, these issues were all overcome by making a conscious effort to learn about the language and culture before and during my time in Sri Lanka – and discussing these observations with other students, staff and local people. That really bettered my understanding and I learned how lucky we are in the UK to have such easy access to compassionate and evidence-based healthcare and that’s something which I am sorry to say that I previously took for granted.

My time in Sri Lanka highlighted to me the importance of being assertive, resourceful and compassionate and, following my placement, I put together a piece of reflective work for the King’s Experience Global Award. This programme is one of several extra-curricular learning opportunities which are facilitated by King’s Experience and are available to all students across the university who wish to receive feedback and recognition of personal learning experiences outside of normal university setting. This may have come from community service, travel opportunities, research or even from learning another language.

Writing about my time in Sri Lanka prompted me to thoroughly reflect on my experience, to explore the impact of culture on health and care, and to evaluate my own cultural beliefs and the way that these could potentially influence nursing practice. It was also a good way to receive some external feedback on my academic writing style!

All students in my cohort undertook an elective placement and enjoyed their time as much as I did while working as student nurses in the UK or abroad. However, for me personally, the King’s Experience scheme and my international elective were incredibly rewarding experiences. I feel that I have broadened my horizons, enhanced my communication skills and vastly improved my self-confidence. I would definitely encourage other students to take up either opportunity during their time at university, and I hope they have the same rewarding experiences as I did – wherever in the world they choose to go.

Ellen Madhani, second year student in the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

 

Where Can Your Nursing Degree Take You?

It’s Deborah again! If you’re thinking about your career prospects after you graduate, King’s is a great place to get started. Students here are offered heaps of careers support throughout and after their degrees – from finding relevant work experience to securing a part-time job. The King’s Careers & Employability Services are available to students for advice and guidance. I’m going to tell you about my nursing career experience so far.

So you have probably wondered where a degree in nursing or midwifery can actually lead you. “Become a nurse or midwife” is often the answer and, yes, that is correct and that used to be my answer too – but what type of nurse or midwife? It wasn’t until I started my BSc Mental Health Nursing course and my placements that I realised what a huge field nursing is. Saying you want to be a nurse when you graduate is just the starting point…

Ten placements later and I have been fortunate enough to have experienced numerous roles which have exposed me to nursing opportunities I didn’t even know existed. My placements have included working in a deaf adult community health team, a psychiatric decision unit (a unique service in mental health), a rehabilitation unit, an older adults ward and a psychiatric intensive care unit – and I will soon be shadowing the Director of Nursing too. It has been very varied and exciting and it has opened my eyes to all the different routes available to nursing students. And, if you’re thinking about studying midwifery, I’ve heard the same applies for you too – from caring for teenage expectant mothers to those experiencing birth difficulties, you’ll get a good range of placements to help you decide your midwifery career pathway.

The thing that makes King’s unique is the connections it has to so many NHS Trusts. I attended a King’s careers fair and I was surprised to see the roles I could take with such a large number of Trusts and organisations. I spoke with employers about becoming a staff nurse in an inpatient acute ward, joining a children’s and adolescents ward, working with eating disorder support teams and even going into forensic mental health. There were so many options.

In the meantime, to enhance my CV, I have participated in the King’s Leadership & Professional Skills Award (KLPSA) which has helped improve my communication and management skills and really boosted my confidence. Plus, I work as a Student Ambassador where I get to talk to prospective students about my course and King’s.

Fortunately for me, I will be qualifying with a King’s degree and King’s nurses are always in hot demand. There is a 99% employment rate. Before I’ve even finished my studies I have a job offer to work in a psychiatric decision unit within my current NHS Trust. I will be a staff nurse assessing clients and providing a plan as part of the multidisciplinary team. This is a role I am greatly excited about but three years ago I didn’t even think a job like this existed.

Nursing is a lifetime career, with so many different destinations. I wish you the best of luck on your journey, it will be the best road you ever walk.

Best wishes,

Deborah

BSc Mental Health Nursing

For more information on Mental Health Nursing, click here.