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Student focus - Staying on top of stress

INMO student and new graduate officer Dean Flanagan reports on news concerning rosters on clinical placements and offers advice on coping with stress

I have just about completed my round of visits to the colleges and universities around the country to meet as many of the new first years as I could. I would like to say a huge hello to everyone I have met so far and a big thank you to the busy lecturers and allocation staff who allotted time for the INMO.

However, I know I haven’t met everyone yet and if you know anyone who was missed out on, they can always join up online at www.inmo.ie/Membership.

European Nursing Students Association
At its recent AGM in Dublin, I was delighted to be elected president of the European Nursing Student Association (ENSA) for 2014/2015. My role for the following year is challenging, and I will seek to bring ENSA into a new working partnership with the European Federation of Nurses (EFN), and ensure that nursing students are represented at a European level, both professionally and competently.

Outcomes at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC)
The INMO recently received two outcomes relating to students from the LRC.

Reflective time: It has long been stated by students that their clinical roster is for 39 hours, or prior to the introduction of a 39-hour-week, 37 hours. In most cases students have advised that reflective time is not separated from their roster on a pre-determined basis. There is now agreement that the four hours reflective time constitutes a predetermined and scheduled block of four hours outside of the 35-hour-week clinical roster.

What this means is that fourth-year student nurses/midwives should have a 35-hour-week roster for clinical placement on the wards. This is the total number of hours that they can be assigned to ward duties; reflective time is separate.

Supernumerary rosters: It has come to the INMO’s attention of late that many first, second and third-year-student nurses/midwives are being approached with a view to being rostered for night duty and weekends. This was never part of the supernumerary agreement for student nurses/midwives. At conciliation on October 24, it was confirmed that first second and third-year-student nurses/ midwives can only be rostered for their clinical placement on Monday to Friday, during normal nurse/midwife working hours, excluding night duty and bank holidays.

It is important that where student nurses/midwives (first, second and third years) are rostered already for night duty or weekends, they should bring this confirmation to the attention of their employer and revert to the Monday to Friday roster. If you have any difficulty in respect of this matter, please contact your INMO industrial relations officer (IRO) who will assist you in this regard.

How to cope with stress as a student nurse or midwife
Many of you will begin clinical placements shortly and may be feeling a little stressed. While a little stress can be okay, too much stress is damaging. Everyone deals with stress differently. Knowing how you react to stressful situations, and developing good habits for coping with the pressure will help you approach your work with much more confidence.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, make a plan. Start by making a list of tasks and prioritising them. Putting a ‘to-do’ list down on paper will give you a checklist to keep track and also give you a sense of accomplishment every time you get to tick something off. Keep a notepad by your bed so if you are lying awake worrying about things you have to remember, you can sit up, write it down and then put it out of your mind and go back to sleep.

Make sure you finish a task through to the end. Leaving work half-finished and putting it off until later will only increase your feeling of stress about it.

Be proud of the things you have done rather than worrying over the things you haven’t yet done. Yes, it’s important to work, but it’s just as important to relax. Make sure you’re setting aside time to get away from the stress, to unwind your mind and your body.

If you do feel that you are being given too much responsibility or not getting enough support, talk to someone – your preceptor, tutor or a senior person at work. Everyone has to cope with pressure, but when it becomes full-on stress that dictates your life and you can’t get it out of your mind, it’s time to tell someone and seek help.

Be flexible – nobody’s perfect and nobody is able to do everything. Give yourself a break if you mess up or when things don’t go according to plan. It happens to us all.

• See page 46 for more details on Dean Flanagan’s role as ENSA president

Student focus - Staying on top of stress
Dec 2014/Jan 2015 Vol 22 (10)
Student focus - Staying on top of stress
Dec 2014/Jan 2015 Vol 22 (10)
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