Completing a nursing degree takes you on a steep learning curve that equips you for a demanding but rewarding career. Learning goals for student nurses incorporate all aspects of patient care, from developing your communication skills -- to better understand and assess your patients’ needs -- to familiarising yourself with the latest developments in clinical care. As supervised work experience in a hospital or community setting makes up 50 percent of your degree course, a large proportion of your learning goals will be achieved through front line experience.
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Developing reflective and critical thinking skills is an essential part of your education and training because it encourages a holistic approach to patient care. It enables you to assess your patient’s emotional and psychological needs alongside social and lifestyle factors, to better understand how these affect his health and well-being. Reflective thinking encourages you to see your patient as an individual and to respond to his needs in a thoughtful, professional and sensitive manner. If, for example, a patient suffers from social isolation which is having an adverse affect on his health, you might refer him to a social worker who can then arrange for him to be given more support in the community.
Working with other health professionals
Working with other health professionals, including psychologists, physiotherapists and social workers, will be an integral part of your nursing career. Through a combination of learning-based theory and work experience you will be expected to become familiar with the role these professionals play in patient care and the legislative and ethical frameworks within which they operate. As part of your work-based learning you might, for example, be part of a student group that interviews other health, care or community workers to explore the strengths and limitations of the service they provide and assess whether these adequately meet patients’ needs.
Understanding assessment procedures
Health professionals follow established protocols for diagnosing and treating patients. As a student nurse, you will be expected to understand these protocols and how they are used to assess patients. This might involve writing an essay on assessments carried out during training and discussing diagnostic tools, such as patient questionnaires, that were used in these assessments.
Understanding clinical theory and practice
Nursing students are expected to understand and demonstrate ways in which the clinical theory learned in the lecture hall is applied in a busy hospital setting. This involves demonstrating your knowledge of the latest clinical theories and citing practical examples, based on your work experience, of ways in which these improve patient care.
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