Emma, RN.

It’s Sunday evening and I am watching TV before I shower, pop my PJ’s on and set my alarm for the morning. Tomorrow I have work, as a registered nurse, in my blues.

Last Monday was my first day arriving into the office as a Community Nurse. I felt nervous, excited and quite overwhelmed, but the day went fantastically. I thought I’d write a blogpost on a few tips that I kept in mind when I qualified that I feel have helped me ease into being an RN.

Utilise experience and network from your first day of Nursing School.

Each experience, each patient and each melt-down will shape the nurse that you become.  It is so important to view each placement as a job opportunity and to gain information. The Sister I worked with on my first ward I still keep in contact with via Facebook, and my mentor at my final placement (where I now work) I’d call a friend. By networking and appreciating each nurse that teaches you means you have a support network. That support network, combined with your previous experience and knowledge will prepare you for your first day and future as an RN.

Aim to complete your final management placement somewhere where you enjoy. It’s a long three months.

You’re final management is the following:

  1. Long – it’s three months unpaid hard work. Placement? Yes. Student nurse? Yes, but proving you understand ‘accountability’. You’re not longer just a ‘student nurse’, you will be referred to as a ‘management student nurse’.
  2. Tough – you’ve just finished/finishing up your dissertation, you are at the end of three years of tough, exhausting and emotional training. It’s hard.
  3. Rewarding – you’re within touching distance of that glittery NMC PIN number.. it’s within grasp. This placement, you are the nurse, your mentor is your armbands at the side of the pool.

The reason I list these things is not to intimidate or frighten anyone approaching this final placement, it is to reinforce why it is so important to go somewhere you enjoy working. If you’ve not had any placements you have enjoyed, then choose a ward/speciality where you have an interest in. Don’t choose somewhere you think you should, because unless your gut is telling you its going to be an amazing three months, you’re sorely mistaken.

Take a break!

I know for some, financially, a break between finishing and paid work isn’t viable. If you can, please do. I had hours to catch up on due to being signed-off during my second year and I was so burnt out by the end of my three-month placement I had to take a break before completing the extra hours.

It is so important to feel rested and rejuvenated. Take a holiday if you can. Enjoy being you. For August and September, I wasn’t a student nurse, I wasn’t a newly qualified nurse, I was just Emma.
Your friends and family will appreciate it too. My friends, family and fiancé were pleased to have me back.

Prepare and get supplies. You’ll be happy to know you can still shop in those “back to school” stationary sales, even though you’re no longer a student.

My prep was to pop by my work and meet with my line manager to tell him my start date and to pick his brains about what I needed to do before I started. I left with uniform, a start date/time, people I needed to contact and my Band 5 Competency booklet.

My supplies consist of a project book to write notes in, a folder for papers, post-it’s and highlighter pens. As a community nurse I also prepped a bag for my boot (for needles, syringes, dressings, etc), a mini-make up bag for lip balm, hand cream, spare hair bands and spare pens and an in-car charger for my personal mobile, work mobile and GPS device.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail as they say!

Enjoy yourself..

Finally, embrace your first day. It’s been a long time coming and you’ve worked incredibly hard.

Congratulations, you’re an RN!

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My first day as an RN!

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Here I am!

Good evening, to anyone reading.

I’ve been MIA for a consecutive three years or so, popping by to say hello. I have toyed with the idea of creating a new blog but I have memories on her that (believe it or not) I do peruse sometimes when I’m feeling a little low. It is a part of my life so far and to create a new would feel like almost cheating on my journey so far.

Anyway, here is a little catch up on my travels since you last heard from me.

We visited Valencia in June 2016 after a very tough start to the year. It was a four day break were Tom and I were able to escape life for a minute. I feel sometimes when life (be it family, university, work, friends, life’s obstacles) is starting to feel suffocating, it is sometimes best to take a few days away. We were fortunate to spend that time in stunning Valencia, but even if you get in your car, on a train or put on your trainers and explore a new place, your mind is preoccupied with your adventure, and less with what is hurting your mind. This is exactly what Valencia was for us, and Valencia, we can never repay you for the light you shone on us during a very difficult time. Thank you.

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Llotja de la Seda

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Evenings on the beach.

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Hotel Neptuno, view.

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Old Town.

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Beach babes.

Our next voyage was Lake Como, Italy in August 2016. I’ve briefly outlined the week in my previous post Let me update ya.. as Tom not only surprised me with the trip of a lifetime, but with the promise of a lifetime to be by my side as my husband and to share his surname with me. This holiday was my 25th birthday present and as mentioned in that blog post, I had no idea where we were going until I got to the departure lounge and the only flight on the board that corresponded with our take-off was to Milan *cue the tears of joy*.

Once we reached Milan, we were met by a wonderful man who drove us out of the airport to our next destination. I was under the impression we were staying in Milan until we turned a corner and I saw with my own eyes, what you see in magazines. Lake Como.

We travelled everywhere by boat, ate fresh pasta and pizza everyday and met the most amazing people from Como. It was the trip of a lifetime, one that I’ll never forget.

I am still pretty speechless at the lengths Tom went to for my birthday that year. He never ceases to amaze me, and this was no exception. Followed by my dream proposal, I honestly do not know what I did to deserve such a wonderful man who everyday treats me like a princess. Italy stole my heart that week, and we both intend on visiting and exploring more of the country.

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The view from our balcony.

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Waiting for our boat home, in Como.

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My view circa 10 seconds before Tom asked me to marry him. *Swoon*

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This needs no caption.

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A typical day travelling in Como.

We then celebrated Tom’s birthday in our home away from home, Amsterdam in November 2016. Amsterdam needs no introduction, no selling point or description. Amsterdam is beautiful, relaxing and everything we need from a city break.

I wasn’t feeling too well during this trip, however we didn’t let that stop us. We explored museums, ate our weight-worth in Dutch cuisine and as always had a wonderful time. It is our fourth trip to Amsterdam, and it certainly will not be our last.

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Dignity Amsterdam – Our favourite brunch spot

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Huddled in the pouring rain with hot chocolate.

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Banksy & Warhol Exhibition: laugh now

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The very handsome birthday boy!

The final stop on this whistle-stop journey of our travels since I last posted was a trip to Bruges with Tom, his mum and sister in May 2017. This was a Christmas present from Tom to us ladies, which none of us were in cahoots with. On Christmas evening we all received a present each. I opened a map of Bruges, his mum opened a tour-guide book of Bruges and his sister opened the DVD of In Bruges, the movie. It was left to us to figure out the rest.

Bruges is a really beautiful city. The canals are stunning, the shops are quaint and the food is fantastic! We were there for two days and despite it being enough to get the feel of Brugge, I definitely want to return.

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Bruges.

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Family shot!

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Best Gin in Europe, that I’ve tasted so far.

 

So that is basically where I’m at, there are more travel posts to come and plenty of career-based posts too. As I always say, I want to try and write more as I find it so cathartic and just good for my soul.

Hopefully speak soon,

Emma x

Let me update ya..

Good morning!

My inconsistency of posts is as inconsistent as inconsistent could possibly be. The further I get into my degree the more difficult I find it to keep up with hobbies and things that I love. If your approaching your nursing degree, that is probably something you won’t like to hear – but stick it out. Yes your life takes a back seat but you have a fruitful career inbound.

Personal life? Where do I start?
Firstly, I’m engaged! I turned 25 this year and as I’m not the most materialistic of girls, Tom decided to treat me to a week abroad instead. He read the signs, and proved once again how well he knows me with a surprise week in stunning Italy. Italy is a country that I have always wanted to visit but never got round to it. I can honestly say that there are multiple areas in Italy I’ve always wanted to visit! We stayed in Lake Como which totally blew me away! I’ve always daydreamed about Lake Como and perved on photographs on Google. He surprised me, and managed to keep mum until I was at the departure lounge. Yes, that is trust: being blindly led to an airport not knowing where you are going.
On the 1st August 2016, he took me to a picturesque Italian Villa and led me to the balcony that overlooks the whole of Lake Como. It was then he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I won’t go into a million soppy details but I will say it was a dream proposal and I wouldn’t change a second. The only thing I’d ask is if I could relive it all again, as I was so surprised that it went too fast. The setting was perfect, my ring is stunningly perfect and the man who asked me to be his wife is perfection. I love him so much and cannot wait to marry him.

Professional life?
I am in my final year now, I’ve completed a six week placement and am currently near the end of my theory block, working on essays and starting my dissertation. My previous placement was in the community and I fell in love with it. Right now, it is where I want to start my career. I have a career aim and I am willing to do whatever I can do get where I want to be. Again, I won’t sop my way through the blog post but I will say, with my life experience and things I have seen: I feel I can be the nurse I want to be in the community.

So there is my ten pence. Still cracking on to become a nurse and now planning our life as a soon to be Mr and Mrs.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder..

I do apologise people of the blogging world! The last few months have been extremely stressful both in my personal life and professional life, which has meant I have taken somewhat of a long hiatus from updating my blog. I know I am not the most regular blogger but I do enjoy creating content and my blog is something that I love to go through and read back to see what my life has thrown at me.

A little catch up – I am still very happily in love with my better half, Tom. We’ve been together for over four years and are incredibly happy still. We are looking at moving out in the next 18 months which will be amazing.

I am still at university, studying to become a nurse. I am almost at the end of year two and if I am honest, this year has been the hardest. I will be totally honest in telling you that the second year is a big difference to the first. My knowledge has had to develop a lot further and my time management has had to be even more on point. Right now, I notice a big difference in my nursing care in comparison to my first year. I am trying to read my patient’s signs and symptoms to understand what is wrong and working with other nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, CNS’s to create a positive care plan for my patients. I don’t know whether other student nurses feel the same, but by the end of year two I’ve started to feel the transition from being totally clueless to feeling confident in my craft.
I still am totally besotted with my career and cannot wait to learn more and experience everything.

Travel? I am off to Valencia for a few days next week with Tom. It is a well-earned break that we both really need. I’m going to take too many photographs (as always) and will create a blog post about my travels, so keep an eye out.

 

10 tips for a Parisian weekend.

I recently embarked on a weekend in Paris with my other half. Our fourth anniversary was looming and being Valentines day as well, we felt it only right that we kept with the tradition of arranging a mini-break to celebrate being in love with each other.

Paris has always been on the bucket list, so we booked up and travelled by Eurostar to the city of love, in February 2016.

I wanted to write a blog post on Paris, but wasn’t sure how to approach it. Instead of a story-like account of our adventures, I felt a guide to a Parisian weekend would be a little different, and useful if you are thinking of visiting.
Obviously, February is still winter in this part of Europe so you’d need to bare that in mind when you book.

So lets begin, my top 10 tips for a Parisian weekend.

1. Avoid developing “Paris Syndrome
If you are someone who travels frequently, or have experienced a few of the globes major cities – you may have heard of this. Many people claim to suffer from this when they visit the big apple, and no doubt when they visit London (no, I’m not blinded by the love of my local city). It refers to the deflated feeling you get when you have mentally built up the experience of a city, and it doesn’t match your expectations.
I do feel that we suffered from this during our visit to Paris, but at no fault of the city or the locals. Our weekend was drizzly with on and off rain. It meant that as we were not familiar with our surroundings, making it difficult for us to explore properly. This may seem feeble to others, but for us personally, it did affect our experience.
My recommendation to avoid Paris Syndrome is to book when the weather is likely to be more reliable (June-September). When the sun is shining and the floor is dry, exploring the city will be easier. You won’t feel constantly cold, lacking in vitamin D and lost. We would like to return during the summer months in the next couple of years to complete our adventure, and see everything.

2. Use Le Metro
Le Metro (or the metro) is similar to the tube in London, the subway in New York. It is a number of train lines running across the city. If you are travelling via Eurostar, your train may arrive in Paris Gare Du Nord – which is also a stop on Le Metro.
When we arrived, we used Le Metro from Paris Gare Du Nord to travel to our hotel and it was incredibly easy. We also used this method of transport to work our way around the city – despite being avid Über enthusiasts. If this idea intimidates you at all, you can download the Visit Paris by Metro app which is a great app for travelling around the city, it is available for iOS, Android and Amazon. Alternatively, you can simply use Google maps. Google maps accommodates Le Metro when advising a route.
If you can, try and buy your Le Metro tickets in bulk. They are for purchase on the Eurostar (on the train where you buy your coffee and snacks from) or at the stations. One ticket is valid for use within one hour and then you simply use the next. You pop it into the slot and the doors will open. It’s very simple.

3. Pick Pockets
There are 7.2 billion-ish people on this planet, and some unfortunately do not have good moral values. Rather than earning and grafting to have nice things, they’d rather just take yours. These types of people are walking all over the globe, including Paris.
Similar to any city (and I’m sure this is not the first time you are hearing this) please keep your belongings safe and near you. If you have a safe, lock passports, currency, electrical away and just take with you what you need.
We found in particular, around the Eiffel Tower it was rife for quite persistent, overly assertive street sellers. At one point, a man approached my boyfriend and started tying string around his fingers to make a bracelet, my boyfriend had to say “no, thank you” about five or six times before prising his hand away from the street seller. Despite them being polite once they cannot physically sell you something, it still can be quite distressing when you’re a tourist in an unfamiliar place.
Be assertive, say no and keep your hand in your pockets. Ladies, take a small handbag you can keep under your coat with only the essentials.
We also experienced people trying to make us sign up to petitions which meant we had to give them money. If you are not interested then explain you only carry a card and walk away. It may depend when you go and you may not experience this, but just be vigilant with your things, and definitely purchace travel insurance incase anything does go walks.

4. Breakfast
On a much lighter note (not calorie wise), breakfast or petit de’jeuner is a culture in itself in Paris. I highly recommend you embrace every croissant, coffee, OJ and baguette that encounters your person. I left a few reviews on Yelp! of places we went (and am still reviewing) if you wanted to have a look. I also try to bookmark where I go, so I can remember for future reference. In particular, we had a fantastic breakfast in Commerce Café which you can read about on my Yelp! page.

5. The Stereotypical Parisian
I hate stereotypes, but if you your trip to Paris is looming and you tell people where you’re headed, many will wish you luck with the rude locals. They’re stereotyped to be cold, rude and very unapproachable.
I would like to set the record straight. Like the minority of European, American, Canadian, African, Wherever-an’s – some are rude and obnoxious. Many may rudely grimace at your poor attempt of the French language. The majority however are friendly, understanding and appreciative of your French attempts. Many will just begin to converse with you in English and you will carry on with your day. We met some really lovely Parisian people whilst we were there and many served us with impeccable manners and approachability.
Please don’t believe stereotypes – otherwise I’d have to live up to being a dippy girl from Essex with blonde hair, fake boobs and no common sense, when in actual fact I’m a hard working young woman, training to be a nurse with common sense and real boobs. Don’t judge by stereotype.
Although, I will advise you to start your conversation with Bonjour (Hello), ending with Au Reviour (Goodbye) and using your S’il vous plaît (Please) and Merci (Thank you). Just like you’d appreciate someone trying to speak your language, they appreciate it too.

6. Drink more, it is financially better for you!
There is no shortage of beautiful wine in Paris, however like many things it is a little more expensive than what you may be used to. We found that by the end of our stay, it works out a lot cheaper to buy a bottle rather than a glass. It makes so much more financial sense and also means you have a constant supply, if you want it!

7. Lack of Coffee Shops
Now, this tip may just be applicable to our trip. No matter how hard we looked, to try and find a coffee shop was not easy. I have always been under the impression that coffee shops are everywhere in Paris but we found them to be scarce. Again, maybe our expectations were too high, maybe we were looking in all of the wrong places – but two avid coffee drinkers felt that the amount of coffee shops were lacking! We kept mainly to the Eiffel Tower side of The Seine so perhaps this was why. But on our last day, we jumped on Le Metro to the Champs-Élysées and still found coffee shops few and far between. If you have any advice on our caffeine slump, please do comment so we are better informed for our next visit!

8. It needs no introduction: Food
Now if you know me on a personal level, you know that one of my favourite parts about travelling is trying the different cuisine. I think it tells a lot about where you are and the people who live there.
Parisian food is second to none, which I genuinely believe is why we didn’t mind paying the prices as it was high quality. If I was charged 18€ for a burger and fries from Burger King, I’d be disgusted. But for the hand cut fries, fresh salad and rare steak meat inside my burger, I could swallow my pride and cough up the mullar.
Try everything, even the things that make you feel uncertain. The food is delicious!
Although, my advice is to pace yourself. The level of consumption was far too great for my body, so I spent a few hours over the weekend in the room laying down feeling sick/with a stomach ache.

9. Yelp!
Utilise the websites and apps that offer reviews, and review the places you visit. Be it Trip Advisor or Yelp!, or any other type of review website please get involved. By doing this you are far less likely to waste your time in an area with rude staff, crap food and smelly toilets. We found some absolute gems on Yelp! and Trip Advisor, and have tried to leave reviews for places to help other people have a fab time. Again, if you’d like to see some reviews for some of the places we visited just visit my Yelp! page.

10. Architecture
There is no way that I could write up a blog post about my trip to Paris without mentioning the stunning architecture. You obviously have the staple architectural visits: Eiffel Tower, Arc D’Triomphe, but the city offers stunning buildings that you may just past as you peruse the area. One aspect of the city that I really loved was the structure of the houses and shops: the colours, the width and the romantic windows. Please don’t experience Paris without really taking in the architecture, it is stunning.
Whilst on the subject, I’d like to recommend lunch at the Eiffel Tower. The staff are charming and the food is beautiful! You will need to book in advance and on the day we went, they closed one of the lifts so there was some unorganised chaos getting to the restaurant but it really is worth it. It also gives you access to the entire floor to see the views and visit the shops. I couldn’t recommend it enough!

So, here are my top 10 tips! Get booking and enjoy the city of love, you will love it!

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Placement 2: Ward Based: Surgical

My second placement was during winter 2015! It was a five week placement on a surgical ward, which was a specialised Emergency Trauma Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery ward.

When I first visited, I was in awe of the ward. I was used to a very old ward where my previous placement had been and this was in a new hospital, with new facilities and a million rooms (well perhaps not a million, but about 10). I visited prior to my placement as I sadly had two funerals I had to go to, one being a good friend; so I had to enquire whether I could choose these days to be off-duty days so I wasn’t missing out on any hours. Luckily the nurse in charge was great and understood my situation and granted me the leave.

I feel that due to the things in my personal life, I started my placement in the wrong frame of mind. The staff were amazing, I especially bonded with the ward clerk (mainly over our love of animals) and the patients were so grateful for my help – but I just wasn’t enjoying my time there. By the time the fourth week arrived I started to shift into a more positive mindset and loved it, but sadly the placement was almost over. It is such a shame that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy myself throughout, but I learned so much during my five weeks.

Being a surgical ward, there were a variety of stories behind my patients. Some elderly people who had fallen at home, some injured during a road traffic collision, some being caught in the cross fire of gang warfare and some who had attempted suicide, with no avail for them. Whilst I gained skills in removing stitches and staples, changing many types of dressings and gaining knowledge of medication, I gained a lot of confidence in listening to peoples stories and not worrying about my reply, facial expression or approach. I learned that a motor bike accident for a 23 year old lad would be sometimes far more traumatic, than the same incident with a 50 year old. I have always understood that people react in different ways, but this placement showed me that it really is the case, and that listening is sometimes the most effect medicine.

This was my first placement as a second year student nurse and by the end I could see massive improvements in my work. My fundamental nursing skills (personal care, etc) was vastly improving from my first year placement and I took pride in my work; always asking the patient if I could do anything differently.

On one occasion (mid-placement) another member of staff demanded I place a bedpan the opposite way that I had been doing so (and had been taught) as I would cause spillages. As she left, the patient who I was taking the bed pan to assured me that I had been doing fine and that the way I was placing the bedpan was perfect for her and she hadn’t had any spillages. To many, this may sound like a silly thing to mention, but as a student nurse I felt confident in my skill and my knowledge. Sometimes advice from staff is not the best teacher, patients advice is.

I am currently constantly checking availabilities to work on that ward as a HCA whilst I study, but shifts there are few and far between – which is a reflection on how great the team is there. I loved being part of such a great team and felt genuinely gutted when they invited me to the Christmas party but I couldn’t go!

Placement 1: Ward Based: Medical

I wanted to write a blog post about my first placement, as a whole! I wrote a few diary-style entries and thought I’d collate them and post them on here. I don’t think anyone reads my blogs so it isn’t a huge deal, but I love looking back and this is something that I will look back on forever!

5th May 2015 to 31st July 2015!

My first placement is on the horizon. I start my placement in a London College for one week performing health checks on the students and teachers. This ranges from blood pressure, measuring their BMI – and also offering information on sexual health.

Following this week, I finally begin my 12 weeks stint in a hospital. I’ve been allocated a hospital in London, on a Gastrointestinal and Liver ward.

I cannot even begin to explain to you how excited I am. Being a nurse is my dream and I am finally tasting the career that will be my future. I can’t wait to be hands on, helping patients and learning everything I can.

It also keeps occurring to me that I will never forget this placement, this feeling that I am experiencing, and the speciality of ward I am working on. Who knows, this could be the introduction to a specialism that I may want to cater my career to.

This page on my blog will be solely based around my first placements: both the college and the hospital. I think not only will this be a nice idea for other student nurses, but for me to look back on as I grow and develop as a nurse.

So keep updated, comment and enjoy the ride with me – wish me luck!

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Hackney Community Project
This first week of our placement was basically to ease us into person to person care. We were expected to conduct health screenings on teachers and students from a local college. It was a little strange as it was the first time that I was the person in control of the situation. I wasn’t taking someone’s blood pressure who also knew how to take blood pressure too, these people were relying on the information I gave them – which felt amazing! We could finally use all of the information and theory we had learnt since September last year.

So I arrived at 8:45 dressed smartly, ready to advice people to exercise, eat well and use contraception. Yep, it was warts and everything.

I really enjoyed the day! Especially as me and my friend snuck off to a restaurant for a celebratory cocktail and burger. I love finally executing the role that I’ve waited so long to do!

07.06.15
Apologies that this update has not been posted sooner, but it has taken me a long time to get into the swing of placement. I am very lucky; the people are great and the patients are everything to me. But the long hours with no minute to spare causes extreme exhaustion on my days off.

So here’s a little bit of a back story up till now..
My first day, I was terrified! I have no previous hands on experience in health care. The morning of my first day, as soon as I woke up I had the realisation that if I wasn’t able to handle the sights and smells, this journey would be over. Everything I want, my dream would be finished. This thought made my nerves even worse. I was a mess on my first morning. My lovely boyfriend drove me in and was so supportive.
One little side note, if you’re reading my blog for an idea of what being a student nurse is like, and you’re in a relationship, it will test it. It will test you’re strength as a couple as it is a really difficult time in your life. My boyfriend has shown me nothing but support and has been my rock throughout the tears and stress of my course.

As I arrived at the hospital, I walked through the doors after a very long cuddle (I didn’t want to let Tom go). I stopped at my turning and walked up the two flights of stairs to my ward. I got to the top of the stairs and on the left is my ward and the right, is the female ward. For a few seconds, I couldn’t breathe. I really don’t want this to sound dramatic but when something means this much to you, your body takes over. I felt sick, and I felt my anxiety returning. I had to take a deep breath, and calm myself down before entering the ward.
Being on a GI and Liver ward, the smells can be off-putting, especially for someone as green to the world of hospitals as me. It was a shock to the system, but I carried on. I got changed, and waited for hand over.

Hand over happens at the beginning of every shift, where the nurses, doctors and healthcare support workers sit down and discuss each patient’s care. This ranges from information about their medical history, current symptoms, medications and even if they’ve had a bad nights sleep and seem a little moody. My first hand over I will never forget, I was clueless! You’re taught never to abbreviate and as soon as you enter the real world, everything is abbreviated!

Once hand over is finished you begin your shift, which is where the fun begins! Since starting placement I have really gained confidence in personal care. I am so proud of myself, as I feel a nurses greatest skill is the ability to care physically for the cleanliness, dignity and emotion of their patient. If you’re about to start placement and have no experience, my advice is take every second in and take it slowly. The smells are shocking and the first genitals you see – you’re not too sure where to look. Bums everywhere and (depending where you are), dentures flying across the room. Take it in, see it for what it is and carry on. I am four weeks in and I cannot explain how much I’ve learnt, and more importantly – how much my confidence has grown.

For those who are interested in actual procedures I have done/witnessed. I have removed cannulas, executed injections, catheter and stoma care, medication’s, personal care and many other things. I’ve observed the insertion of a catheter, cannula, ascitic drain, heart echo, chest x-ray, bladder scan and other things too!

I am due back tomorrow for more fun and antics. We have 23 beds, which means 23 people who will never leave my heart. It’s hard work and it is draining, but I wouldn’t swap my experience for the world. I get to care and help people for a career, I am the luckiest girl in the world!

28.09.15
So two things I must remember next time I’m on placement. Be you and be bold. And to blog more regularly!

I’ve finally finished and I had the most amazing experience. I’ve learnt so much and have gained skills that I will use for the rest of my career. It is nice to have my life back but I do miss the ward.

A few things I learnt whilst on the ward not only consist of skill and emotion, but also about how you carry yourself.

1. Emotional Barriers
On our first day of university, our lecturer Anne told us that throughout our career we’d have to learn how to put up a barrier emotionally – whether that is when you are upset, angry or frustrated. No matter what the emotion – you’re a healthcare professional (professional being the key word)

Now on my placement, I saw vomit, all types of poo, urine (with blood in it), urine (with worms in it), urine (in general), death, life, dementia, cancer, insides on the outside – you name it, I’ve likely seen it. However when you ‘see’ it – sometimes your heart drops and you feel like your gut is going to fall out of your behind. But you can’t portray that with a giggle, or with a scream. That patient (or sometimes their relative) is feeling what your feeling, on steroids. They are feeling 150% more upset, 150% more disgusted or 150% more embarrassed.

I am a very emotional person, so I was worried about this aspect of my job. I cry very easily and if I’m very upset find it hard to stop. But my best advice is to remember, as soon as you put on your uniform – your barrier is there. This idea works, and when faced with some very heartbreaking deaths and very unpleasant smells, I was able to keep my cool, offer a hand to hold and a face that didn’t judge the situation.

2. If you’re in an uncomfortable position – confront it
This is a difficult one, for me personally. I’ve had to deal with more unreasonable idiots than I’d like to. Which makes dealing with confrontation difficult.

I was faced with a situation that made me extremely uncomfortable and despite knowing I needed to confront it, I felt I couldn’t. The person made it apparent that they felt that they knew everyone, was friends with everyone – and very much made me feel like I was an outsider trying to work my way in. In addition, the person was overpowering and patronising. When I am patronised, it is the one situation where I genuinely see red. I’ve never been good at being treated like an imbecile, just due to the fact that I am not one, therefore I have to remove myself from the situation.

Anyway, long story short – it wasn’t until my last week that I told my mentor about my experience with this person. I only felt the confidence to tell my mentor as another student was experiencing the same problem, with the same person. Rightly so, the person has been given the relevant discipline and after speaking to our Ward Manager and Matron, when asked if we wanted to take it further we said no. We felt that being aware of the their behaviour, they would have the decency to not repeat the same mistake again.

Unfortunately now, when I return to work on this ward as agency staff, I will feel anxious to see the person. Despite the team taking me under their wing and the majority making me feel like part of the family (we all went out after work, etc) – he’s actions and the way it was left is now awkward.

Next time, for my benefit I will be confronting the situation. I was trying to do the right thing to not cause tension on the ward, but my actions meant that I made everyone else comfortable except myself.

I’ve been lucky because the Ward Manager and Matron are aware and are very much supporting myself and the other student, and the nurses and sisters are aware and supporting us. The team I worked with almost adopted me to their team and want me to come back and work there. But if I didn’t grow as close to the team, and dealt with it in this way – it would jeopardise my opportunity to work on that ward.

Life lesson: think, confront, move on.

3. Be on time!!
Nothing is more unprofessional than a bad timekeeper. When you are sitting in hand over and you’re already being interrupted by the consultants coming in at 7:45, the phlebotomists coming in between 7:30-8:00 (our handover time), you don’t want or need anymore interruptions. I can honestly say I was always 30 minutes early, that way I could change, grab a coffee and be in the nurses office by 7:20 with a seat, the hand over sheet ready to learn about my patients.

4. Make a good impression.
Yes, you’re trying to cope with all of these new smells, new people, new experiences. But please remember your placement is also your job interview. You have an allotted time to make an impression. Graft, ask questions, get your hands dirty. I promise, once you have to handle bodily fluids once, you can do it again – the worse is over.

5. Be grateful.
I was lucky enough to have the near perfect placement (it would’ve been perfect if I wasn’t faced with that uncomfortable situation), but not everyone does. What I’d recommend to do is always come home and think about two good aspects of your day, for every bad aspect.

If your placement is 100% torture for you, and you aren’t able to move wards/hospitals. Then be strong, there is a huge community of other nursing students in your place of study, in your placement area and online. Gain support from your peers and finish. When you do finish, thank them for their support, smile and leave. You can go home and celebrate it being over, and they can’t say a bad word about you to any future employers.

Learning to be a nurse isn’t easy, its long hours and physical. Just take each day for what it is. Have dreams and be ambitious – but remember you are not yet qualified.

Feet up, I passed year one of nursing school!

I’ve officially finished my first placement. I’ve passed all of my exams. I’ve passed all of my coursework. I guess you could say, I’m in my second year of nursing.

That feels very surreal

I feel really sad that my placement is over, but at the same time I am very glad for the well earned break. What people forget, is although you are a university student during your nurse training – you aren’t blessed with the same holiday times as a normal university student. As large chunks of our year are spent on placement, our exams and coursework are crammed into a smaller amount of time – meaning no time to chill.
We are given two breaks (of 2-3 weeks) during term time. The first, Christmas. We were given three weeks off to celebrate Christmas, and also to finish off two pieces of course work and revise for an exam the first week back. The second break, Easter. Only problem was that it was a two week break where we needed to revise for a biology exam, two essays and also an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination)! Not to mention our biology and OSCE being double booked, so our biology being brought back (giving us a week less to revise)..

So a cheeky glass of wine in the garden whilst I debate what to have for my lunch is a well needed lifestyle change for the next few weeks. Also working on the wards every now and again – will be bliss.

Weekend bliss!

This weekend was one of my free full weekends. With family things, seeing friends and sometimes working a Saturday or Sunday, a weekend just to ourselves can be a rarity. So we decided to make the most of it!

Saturday we took a drive up to Camber and spent the day at the beach. Camber is very special to Tom as this was his favourite childhood holiday destination. He went on a break with friends there as a kid but as grown up’s we can explore properly and enjoy the things he’s always wanted to do as an adult. Camber is beautiful. It offers you seaside fun, cheesy chips, stunning sand dunes and if you leave the beach – a few classy restaurants. We opted for lunch in a small place just outside the beach.

Once 5-6pm struck, we slid down the sand dunes, brushed ourselves off and headed for dinner. Tom drove us to Rye, another place he loved as a kid. We had dinner in a quaint little pub and just enjoyed each other’s company. Nothing can beat just having a relaxing day with the man you love, who is also your best friend!

I really enjoyed our Saturday. I love seeing Tom’s face light up as I see him reminisce about childhood memories. I also loved it as Camber and Rye are places I’ve visited a few times with Tom (and his family) and we’ve begun to make our own memories too.

Sunday, we had big ideas of driving into Kent to visit Botany Bay, but that rain though! So plan b – CINEMA!

Off we went to Romford, and saw Spy. Spy is an action/comedy about a girl (Melissa McCarthy) who is part of the intelligence team at MI5. When her partner in crime gets killed she demands to work in the field to get justice for her friend! *NO SPOILERS* It was fantastic! Absolutely hilarious, with real action and emotion.

We then ate in Zizzi’s (with my 40% off student discount mini fist pump) & spent the whole evening laughing, holding hands and talking over a bottle of wine.

Although it isn’t the most glamorous of weekends, I loved every single second. Spending time together as a couple always reminds me why we are together. We are best friends, who can’t keep each other’s hands off of each other-  who also just genuinely love the bones of one another.

You can’t ask for much else!

Placement 1: A little so far.

Being a student nurse is bitter sweet, you experience every inch of caring and nursing – except anything to do with blood. You’re not allowed to administer IV medication, nor are you allowed to take blood or insert a cannula. Whilst this is something I’d love to have the opportunity to do, there is more than enough to keep my inquisitive mind perfectly occupied.
I everyday experience the rewarding nursing skill of personal care, which allows me to know that my patients are comfortable, clean and washed everyday. Being given the opportunity to partake in executing personal care allows me to bathe and dress them how I’d expect to be helped if I were a patient. To parallel, I also am heavily involved with medication and injections – which is something I really enjoy.

There is no denying, training to be a nurse is very difficult! There are more abbreviations than NHS staff, the work-load:staff ratio is not equal and whilst struggling physically during your 12 hour shifts, your brain is working overdrive to take in as much information as possible. Oh, and did I mention that my 40 hour weeks are voluntary. For many, this is a huge deciding factor in applying for and completing the three years of nurse training, and I completely understand.
My personal life was not in a place for me to easily decide to attend university, again. I was in a full-time, rewarding job with a good wage and savings. I’d finished my stint of education and had a degree to show for it. I was (and still am) in a very healthy, exciting and loving relationship and was starting to save for our own home with my partner, Tom.  It was Tom who said to me that I had to go for it. I’d wanted to be a nurse for so long and had no other real career aspirations – other than to carry on progressing where I was currently working. After a long haul of trying to decide whether returning to education was right for me (for us), Tom told me that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. He promised to support me, help me and stand by me so I could reach my goal and be in a job that I’d dreamed of – and he has stuck to his work ever since. I have no regrets about my life choice. Yes, it has put a few things on hold but I know it is right for me. It is important when your in a relationship to see it for what it is, not what it is now. I have days where I wish we had our own place, and that maybe I should’ve trained after we moved but when I sit there and think about the chance I’m giving myself, and our future stability – it is worth it.

My advice for anyone considering training to be a nurse would be to go for it. I cannot explain how rewarding it is. I cannot believe that on the condition that I pass the rest of my course, my job isn’t work. It is hard work and at times draining, but I don’t feel like I am working for payment (which yes, I know I’m not being paid right now). It is a pleasure to not only nurse patients, but for those who are more unwell – being there at the end of their life. Not many people are offered an opportunity where you can hold someones hand, calm them down and make them smile at the end of their life, and that is always going to be my favourite thing about my job.