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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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!

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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!

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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.

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.

The long await for placement…

I have been in a whirl wind of theory, simulated practice and lectures since September last year. When you speak to student nurses studying at other universities, they have completed their first placement and some are even on to their second.
Myself on the other hand? I still have another 7 weeks (and a bit) left to wait until I can proudly put my uniform on and get my hands dirty (more than likely, literally).

The whole idea of becoming a nurse was obviously to do the job. I’ve loved university, and till this day I am so happy I chose the university I did. I also can see the logic in the university making their first year students complete 8 months of theory before going on the wards. Comparing a first year student nurse who has studied for 8 months, with another who has studied for 8 weeks – you will notice two very different people.
I relish the fact that we will be a little more equip to judge the care and methods of our mentors, we won’t be too absorbent to copy mistakes.

However I am absolutely desperate now to get my uniform on and be a student nurse. I want to do someones blood pressure and see something other than a normal range, and find out how to stabilise that. I want to measure someone’s peak flow, who isn’t doing the task before I have finished explaining it. My study group have grown incredibly close since September, but where we are all becoming so comfortable with each other – we just do what we do, and thats that.

Since starting university I have met a lot of new people, but I am looking forward to meeting new people and being able to introduce myself as a ‘student nurse’ who is on shift that day. I am fully aware I will encounter patients who don’t feel comfortable with me caring for them because I am a only a student, but that is okay. If I put myself in that position this time last year, before finding out how in depth a nursing degree is, and also how much you learn in a little amount of time – I would be the same.

So the wait carries on, I should in the next few weeks be finding out what hospital from my trust I am allocated for this placement, and also what ward. I will keep you updated as much as I can!

Results day!

 

I received a 2:1 for all of my assignments. One of my assignments even graded three marks from a First, so I was on cloud nine. I suffer very badly with nerves and I clearly didn’t let them get the better of me. However, going through my feedback forms I have realised how harshly my university mark, so this has given me even more drive to go on and get that First!

Obviously it has been quite a while since I have blogged, nursing is a tough degree. Although if you do your research (via blogs and Instagram) before you start, you will see various student nurses saying the same thing. One piece of advice I would give is to time manage. It’s incredibly tough, and time consuming – but if you manage your time it will be doable, still stressful but doable.

Another piece of advice, is enjoy your friendships. Now I will not sugar coat it – don’t think your future nursing degree endeavour will consist of freshers week fun and alcohol. Yes, you will let of steam, but unlike your fellow student body – you will actually be letting off genuine steam. No disrespect to any other degrees and I cannot speak for them all, but my current degree in comparison to my first degree (BA Advertising, Public Relations and Media) – this is full time.

So let off steam with your friends – at the end of exams we hopped on the tube and spent an evening with a few too many drinks and dinner down Covent Garden. Those three years go so quickly so enjoy those who are experiencing the ride with you!

I have more essays, presentations and coursework to get done so I will give you an update soon of my life as a student nurse.

Take care – and remember, every day your one step closer to receiving your pin!

Finally, the weekend!

Afternoon bloggers!

Last week was a very intense week for me so I’ve been quiet on the blogging front.

I had two assignments due on Monday and my first exam on Friday. I can’t explain how much pressure I have been putting on myself lately to keep healthy, revise and have time for my friends, family and boyfriend! But it is finally over, and boy am I glad!

Another reason why this weekend has been so long awaited is that this weekend was my first full weekend off of work for over half a year!

Friday after our exam finished, my friends and I took ourselves out for lunch! Our campus is in Angel (in London), so the city is our oyster! Following our big lunch, we took a shopping trip to Camden & made our way home!

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Saturday was then spent with my family. It was my uncles birthday so we all met up for a meal & catch up in Chelmsford. We’ve had a lot to deal with over the last few years as a family, so a few hours really means the world. Also, with 4 kiddies (and another on the way), the youngest generation of our family make it all even better!

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We then speeded back from Chelmsford as I had a girly night in awaiting with all of the work girls, and Tom was due to go to the pub with he’s friends too! So a quick freshen up and off we went! I wasn’t drinking so I offered to be designated driver for both Tom and I!

My girly night was needed! I have never had such close girl friends before. Many women are normally fake, bitches or your friend for their own agenda. It is different for us, because we have boy banter. By that, I mean that the bitching and back stabbing doesn’t exist. We take the piss out of each other and are straight to the point – which makes it work! I love them girls to the moon and back and just wish we all met sooner!

Then off I went to pick up Tom and ended up as an honorary lad till 3am whilst we played Monopoly and had a laugh which was nice. I’ve always felt really comfortable around men so it was really nice – even though I lost at Monopoly!

Today, a very well deserved lay in, followed by our weekly shop and time for me to cook up a Sunday storm in the kitchen. But not before egg and bacon with a twist for breakfast..

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So yes, my beef Sunday roast is almost ready and I am in comfy clothes, cosying up to my man. Not a bad weekend for my first one off of work!

Have a good week!

Being a baby nurse is really hard!

I am biggest blogger fail in the world!

Yes, I will admit that my idea to return to blogging was all with good intentions, but the crazy life of being a student nurse has just had to take a front seat.

As I always say, I will try to blog more it’s just the past few months have been hectic and if I’m honest, I’m still getting used to this university vs life balance.

So enough blog-grovelling..

Being a student nurse is amazing. I am learning so much about myself and the human body in general that I never knew! I got my nurses uniform (scroll down for a photograph) and I couldn’t be happier.
This has been a dream for me a for a long time and I can’t begin to explain how amazing it feels finally taking these steps.

But, I won’t sugar coat it – it is hard.

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If time management isn’t your forte, like myself, you really have to buckle down and learn how to time manage.

I finish my exams this coming Friday then it is time for simulated practice. Basically me (in my uniform) with my pals (in their uniform) playing hospital. Let’s just say if you want to apply for a university course where you get very close to your friends very quickly, it is nursing.

But I am absolutely pumped for it! Finally a chance for me to have a whole day of practical and not 2 hour slots like we normally do!

I am so excited to just do my thing and make a difference. My shifts on the ambulance have opened my eyes – you need a career that rewards you, not just a job that pays you.

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Hello, my name is Emma and I am a..

So it’s been a year, I can only apologise. Nothing drastic has happened, I am still very happily living my life and am still living and travelling lots! Time to return to blogging but now there has been a big change in my life.

So let’s start from the beginning..

My name is Emma, I am 23 and have just begun my journey in becoming a qualified nurse. I have worked for the NHS since graduating university in 2012, but I want to go further in the NHS and I want to be saving lives. For those who anyone who trained to be a nurse a while back, they’d have trained on the job. But now it has changed. Today, nurses are required to have evidence behind their robust knowledge – in the form of a degree.

Now I thought long and hard, but this career meant too much to me to just pass me by and become a regret in my 40s. So I bit the bullet, and signed up.

Now, it is nearing the end of my first term and I am absolutely loving it. I have met some great friends, and already learnt so much. But during my time writing this blog – you will no doubt listen to the crazy tales of coursework, exams placements and everything in between.

What also will be in between will be me blogging but other things I like; because you should never be just your job. Be it travel, evenings out, or whatever I particularly fancy writing about!

So sit back, relax and comment below. You’re in this with me 🙂

I got a promotion!

So as you may, or may not know I have worked for my company now since December 2012. Since starting I have completed lots of different training schemes and gained qualifications whilst being there. Working for the company that I do is the best move I have ever made, as it has gone from being a job – to a career.

Within 9 months of working for them, I have now received a promotion which I am over the moon about! I have gone from training up on my job, to now training new employee’s to do my job. In less than a year I have made a complete turn around and I am so so happy about it.
I saw the opportunity and thought I would apply to that and another promotion below it and see if I got either. To my surprise I received an email from our project manager to invite me to an interview for the higher of the two positions. I was blown away.

And now, the rest is history. An interview and presentation later, I am now awaiting to attend my training this week and gain this promotion.

I am so proud of myself, I really am not the most confident of people when it comes to judging my own ability, and since working for this company and in particular since this promotion I am starting to believe in myself!

Hard work and graft apparently really does pay off!

Work hard, play harder!