Placement 3: Acute Care!

Day 1 complete! 14 hours down, 248.5 to go. I wake up at 5:30am excited and exhausted, absolutely no idea what to expect. I arrive and ask about 3 people where I can find the acute care ward in this maze of corridors and eventually I’m stood at the door buzzing it to be let in. I settle and then I’m sat ready to meet the rest of the team. I try to create an air of confidence about me which I think works, but is soon to be taken away when I’m working the ward.

I’m assigned my mentor and we start with the morning drug round, at this point I’m feeling confident and cool. I observe the ward and try to make out what acute care really means and the people who are brought to us. I find that people are brought up to us from A&E, where we then continue to treat them until we  transfer them to other wards more suitable for their needs. In all honesty I was expecting critically ill patients, dying left, right and centre (as morbid as that sounds), but day one taught me otherwise. We (my mentor and I) looked after ‘A bay’, one of four bays, where we had only three patients on a six bedded  bay. Easy.  We gave medication, washes and I even dressed an infected leg ulcer, which I was later told was expected to be amputated… just to put my morning into perspective.

Fourteen hours on my feet, whilst trying to learn throughout  really tested me, with only three twenty minute breaks all day. I had to scoff food down me whilst walking back to the ward from a hospital shop to ensure I wouldn’t be late returning. At this point I’ve been told to give handover to anothtired-nurseer ward via a phone call. My palms are literally sweating and I’m asking “what do I say?”. “Just read from their documents” my mentors explains as she walks off to break. Luckily another nurse helped me out, but unintentionally made me feel incompetent by getting me to repeat after him and smiling ‘well done’ afterwards.

Anyway, I was faced with dementia, alcohol dependency, A LOT of chest complaints, infections and a possible diagnosis of lung cancer amongst my  bay. It was unusual to see people for such a short amount of time, until they were then wheeled off and replaced with another patient with whom we’d repeat our nursing duties. I’d build rapport, which would be turned into curiosity as to what happened to that person eventually.

Although I was expecting critically ill patients and death, I was faced with a lot of mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, alcohol addiction and neurological conditions and patients with conditions that you may find on specialist wards, all bundled in one. Day one, and I was making phone calls to different departments, that didn’t go quite to plan, and taking on admissions. This is where that air of confidence evaporated. It may be easy for those who have spent years in healthcare, but to me who came straight from A levels it was a challenge. My day consisted of asking the same questions over and over until I was confident I understood the task and umming and ahhing when I didn’t know something. Thankfully 9:15pm came along and all I could focus on then was bed!

All I can do is know things will get easier and everyone is running their own race, at their own speed. Yes, I may feel like I will never get there and yes, perhaps things may take more time for someone like me. I can’t knock myself for my persistence even when I feel like giving up and in all honesty, if I can get through it, anyone can. Really.



You’re not failing!

I’ve been busy on placement. I’ve finished my first one which lasted nine weeks, finished some assignments and I’m back on my second and final placement of the year. Wow.

I came straight from A-levels into nursing. I thought I could handle it seeing as I don’t mind blood, I love watching procedures and adore helping people. Absolute greatest privilege to me and I’ve also done a bit of work experience. However as I have started work on a ward with which I’m not familiar I feel as though I’m a hindrance to the workforce.

I constantly ask questions, which is better that endangering myself or a patient I know. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing at times and sometimes I’m pacing with nothing to do. Other times I kick myself for lacking initiative and I’ve been on the verge of crying. However, there is something I’d like to take from this and share.

Perhaps I’m not actually failing, I need to pull myself together and get a grip. I’m fretting to family and colleagues but of course how can I possibly have a rounded idea or grounded knowledge of something I’ve never done before? I’m learning, I’m growing, I learn from these silly mistakes. The patients really feel warmth and confidence from me and that’s the aim isn’t it? I’m trying to walk before I run and I think so many people do that to be the best too quick.

I know there are other students out there worrying and probably wanting to just let go of the whole nursing business because it is so so hard and draining. Hang in. Don’t give up. 2 years and your life, this amazing career begins. This is what I remind myself.

Although I’m young, possibly naive and feel like I’m failing, I’m learning and growing. Realisation hits when you’re told you’ve been training for five minutes and how can you know how to do something when you’ve never experienced it before, never been told or shown it.

I’ll be taking a five minute breather, reflecting and constantly referring back to my goals. I’ve got this. Anyone can do anything! Let’s go!

Self reward

Another diary entry to keep my thoughts and bay…

So I’m walking through a car park, talking to my brother in law envious of these brand new, sleek cars. I go on about having one to which my sisters partner rightly replies “not on a nurses salary”. And back down to Earth I come. I nudge him and tell him to shut up so my illusions of owning luxury aren’t shattered. I know this and I didn’t go into nursing expecting to own a holiday home but to expand my own values of being selfless and enjoying making the lives of the less fortunate just that little better.

The bigger picture being, however how my brother in law starts speaking in philosophical tongue. He exclaims that he came across an article in which it looked into people’s moral compass of selflessness and compassion, versus extreme money making (however not suggesting morals and economic success don’t go hand in hand, more the fact vocational occupations don’t earn high bucks.)

He discusses the motives and value of money in relation to the purpose of life. He explains how the article suggests that on one’s death bed people may contemplate the purpose and value of their several cars for example, or big homes or expensive material possessions, potentially thinking ‘I leave all this behind for what’. However very few will contemplate or regret the impact they’ve had on people’s lives and the thoughtful giving of their time, love and expertise.

I suppose at the moment I’m thinking what everyone does at some point in their life regarding their career ladder and although caring won’t earn me an extravagant yearly holiday, perhaps it’ll fulfil a deeper aspect of human need and want down the line.

So when I’m down in the dumps watching ’67 plate cars whizz by I reflect. I’m young, I have a lifetime ahead of me and at the age of 18 I’m already changing people’s lives. Now that is something I can’t say I’m upset about.

Am I in the wrong? Doctor’V’Nurse

So I’m in the waiting room to be seen by my GP. “Great, will he think I’m wasting his time?” “Will he think this is another petty problem that’s wasting time and money?”.  Anyway I’m waiting and then I’m called in, wiping my sweaty hands on my trousers. We’re chatting and then comes to light that I’m a student nurse on placement – que debate.

I talk about one of the many factors that concern me such as nhs staff being overworked after reading ‘Nurses are putting in over 200 hours of unpaid overtime etc. ’ – Mirror 2018. However, as I sit waiting for a reassuring statement I recieve this reply with a grin: “well I think I’m paid well and am I overworked?”. Pause.

Firstly, as a GP and being in practise for probably 40 plus years I’m sure his pay is satisfactory, as the role between a doctor and nurse is evidently different. Secondly, as I explain how I believe it to be harder for the new generation coming into nursing with undergoing seven unpaid placements, he states how he didn’t get paid. However I severely doubt he was whaked with a £45,000+ debt at the end of his training. Thirdly as a GP he is less likely to be overworked as he works within a clinic environment, which is closed on weekends and appointment based only.

Am I in the wrong to believe that our NHS is in trouble after last year, 33,000 nurses in England left the NHS – BBC news 2018. I’ve also listened to conversations amongst nurses in my own placement complaining about their workload and overwhelming amounts of paperwork, suggesting this to be another reason why so many are leaving.

A mutual agreement was that we are proud of our NHS and that the public expect too much from it as well. Unfortunately my doctor carried on this statement listing all the countries that require the public to pay for their healthcare, adding ours to the end of it for the near future, explaining how he sees no other option. Can anything be done?

It’s hard being a student nurse!

I suppose this is more of an outlet than informative because my hands are tied as to what I can do to change the situation. That being I’ve woken up exhausted on my day off of placement, only to soon return to a 40 hour work week without receiving a single penny. I shouldn’t moan because every other first year student is experiencing the same conditions, that being having to now pay for our course whilst essentially paying to work for the NHS. In the words of a year 3 student “If I had to pay for this course I wouldn’t bother because you don’t get what you need out of placement”. How do you react to that?

I want to nurse and always have done but it’s so obvious to understand why so many are dropping out or not applying at all! I’ve been intrigued to see other blog posts encouraging students to apply for nursing, but without reform surely we’re just fulfilling vacancies which our government needs to happen in order to still continue doing the bare minimum?

Overall, my upset lies with having a passion to improve the quality of patients lives and working my ass off to achieve where I am today. To be congratulated with a £45,000 debt (like all courses, but…) 7 unpaid placements, demoralising behaviour from senior healthcare professionals and a government who doesn’t give a s**t about nurses working conditions or wellbeing.

Although I complain, I’m not giving up on a career I’ve dreamt of. I’m not just going to be ‘plodding along’, it’s about somehow finding a way to compromise and improve our NHS and working conditions.

As a side note, I encourage anyone who wants to join the NHS to do so, but fight for what we have and don’t accept poor conditions for yourself or patients! Write to local MP’s, join nursing discussions and platforms, protest for working rights etc. Be passionate!

Introduction – Student Nurse

In summary, I feel it is topical and significantly important to highlight our current NHS service. I would like to point out as a first year nursing student the realities, expectations, disappointments, frustrations and honest opinions/experiences I have and will be facing. I would like to and will be documenting my experiences, as I have quickly realised nursing is not all what it seems. As a new generation into nursing, I would like to share an updated and perhaps different viewpoint on it.

I have wanted to work with people and in healthcare since early adolescence, I love the satisfaction of helping others and I just knew I wanted to Nurse. I took the necessary steps – GCSE’S, A Levels and then came results day and I was off to uni. I thought I knew what there was to know about helping people, the NHS and what to say and expect but naively, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This has been found through being in my fourth week of placement at a hospital where I have already experienced stereotypes, but have had my eyes opened and learnt things about myself, which ties in with my experience of stereotypes of hierarchal status in healthcare.

Firstly, why am I nursing after the bursary has been eradicated and the NHS is in despair and professionals are being slated left, right and centre, not to mention the governments help, or lack of it (not to start a political argument) .This is the question I have been asking my 18 year old self since beginning my training because is this really what I want to be involved in? However, I do think this is the right time as a young, fresh faced nursing student to start pointing out and bringing to light these conversations, trying to highlight and shape what I want my life long career to be revolved around, because yes this is what I want to do and no, I do not want to sit by and watch our National Health Service crumble.

Evolving on the point of what I want my career to be based around, I can say it is not to be told I am less academic for wanting to be a nurse or to be expected to make doctors their tea/coffee, in which the older generation of nurses say ‘You just have to’ (although this may well be an isolated incident), or to have to explain to the elderly that the transport to take them home won’t arrive for another six hours. Less focused on my personal experiences, I don’t want to tell patients that I don’t have time for them, that there aren’t any beds available or to be abused by the public for the lack of resources the NHS currently has. Above all I want to honestly highlight and document these current conversations to try and shape and alter views (for better or for worse) about the NHS and their staff to provide a better service for the future generations of nurses and the public.

Although this seems critical and negative, like most posts regarding the NHS and healthcare seem to be about, I merely want to demonstrate the need and want for a better future of healthcare and to diminish treatment and views of staff as well as talk about the behaviours of inter professional teams and my moral standpoint on how the public and hierarchies of staff treat one another. All in all, this is an introductory piece of a first year nursing students ideals of what is to come and what is to be expected as I journey through the NHS for the next three years.