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!

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