Each time I work with a student I am reminded of the time when I was a nursing student and the innocence of my approach when I was with patients and what it was like ‘learning the ropes’. I still remember and appreciate what a formative time this is in a student’s career. Not only do we learn about the technicalities of nursing or midwifery, but we also learn about what its like to work as a nurse or midwife, and how we traverse the varying environments that we work in and understanding the relationships that we have with patients, families and colleagues.
These can be intense times for students as they negotiate ongoing studies, working full time as a student on the ward or other environments, learning to deal with the sights, smells and sounds associated with nursing and midwifery, as well as maintaining their current employment. There is also more for clinicians to consider when working with students for the day, week or fortnight, explaining things, working with them, supervising them with various cares and procedures and walking beside them as they begin to gain their confidence in working independently with people who are receiving their care. The learning that is on offer cannot be underestimated for both the students and the clinicians.
We learn a great deal over the years and can become very skilled through our own clinical experiences… we have much to share with students. However, students also always have a lot to offer and it is important to remember this.
No matter our role or position, we each bring something valuable to our work. There is something to learn everyday and equally something to offer, no matter our experiences and roles.
There is a particular quality that students have, because of their innocence and freshness. I have seen many a patient ‘melt’ in the care of a student because of their gentle and delicate approach. They are highly aware of what they are doing when they are with a patient and in their own rawness, are very sensitive to the patient’s feelings and needs. On the surface it may seem that they are less confident and unsure because everything is so new. But the call to care is not new; it is age old and naturally there within us all. A person who is choosing nursing or midwifery as a profession is choosing to understand, develop and master what care means when working with people who are requiring care for whatever reason.
As a clinician of over 25 years, this innocence and gentleness and the positive impact it has on patients, inspires me in my own practice. It is something that I constantly observe and appreciate when I am working with students. As experienced clinicians, we are offered the opportunity to be reminded of our own gentleness and rawness in how we can be with those in our care and reminded that this need not be left behind in the innocence of our training.