The quality of our future workforce is dependent on the quality of teaching our nursing students receive. This responsibility falls not just on those working within the academic field, but to every nurse who supervises or works along side those students. We should relish the opportunity to help nurture and shape our future colleagues.
We need to welcome students on to our wards and help them find their way in the clinical setting. Developing strong mentor-mentee partnerships is crucial and we need to recognise the power and influence we have. Students are watching us and absorbing what they see, even when we might not want them too. It is not just how we care for patients, but also how we interact with our colleagues, how we speak with other members of the interdisciplinary team, how we treat the housekeeping and food service staff that we are teaching them.
We need to help students find their voice, the voice they will need to advocate for their patients themselves and us, their colleagues. Too often they are dismissed as ‘just a student’ and silenced by the perception it is not ‘their place’ to speak up. Whether we realise it or not, they are looking to us for inspiration and indeed for permission to ask questions, share information and yes, even teach us new practices.
We need to acknowledge, respect and be grateful for the privileged position we hold, being able to play such an important role in the development of the next generation of nurses. After all, the student you are working with today, will not only be your colleague tomorrow, but also the nurse potentially looking after you or your loved ones.
**Laurie is a regular columnist for the Australian College of Nursing “The Hive” Magazine offering her perspective as an early career nurse. This column was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue ***