Four Weeks on Nursing Placement
I aim to post at least weekly about my experiences, feelings and what I have learnt, or as they say – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Week Three – Nursing Placement
This week is technically the start of a new placement, however, I requested to be on the same ward so it’s not so new to me, but in all honesty this beginning is tinged with sadness…
Today I took new students to my ward and gave them an orientation since I was already familiar with how the ward worked and where certain things were. While I was on the ward I noticed the name of one of my patients was missing off the patient board… I didn’t want to acknowledge this at first but I knew exactly what it meant.
On Saturday I MET called John* for 02 sats in the high 60’s – low 70’s. It was shortly after this I was involved in another, 2 hour long MET call and later discovered that doctors had decided that palliation was not far away from my patient John.
John was a lovely man. He was so kind to me and I know he appreciated the care I gave him, even though he was considered a high level care patient, or what some nurses would call a ‘difficult patient’. I will never forget the day he had the strength to tell me about his cat, Tuppence, who had been living in a luxury cat home for the past year due to John’s ill health. That same day he said to me ‘Georgia, you are so patient. It is so nice to be actually cared for by someone’.
After I MET called him I checked on him later and he seemed comfortable but exhausted.
To discover today that he passed away on my only day off, after caring for him for so many days was a feeling I didn’t think I would encounter until later in my career.
The hardest part for me was that the only thing that worried him was where Tuppence would end up.
Rest in peace.
Week Four – Nursing Placement
My final week on nursing placement was busy as usual. I’ve come to learn that the ward I worked on has patients on each end of the spectrum – in for something minor or really, really sick.
This week I took a full patient load (4 patients) and didn’t find it as difficult as I thought I would. I remember in first and second year only taking one or two patients and thinking ‘how will I EVER be able to manage 4 patients?!’ But I did it which I am super proud of.
In this last week I also witnessed my first code blue in which a patient had gone into cardiac arrest and needed CPR. Seeing CPR for my first time was intense…. It was so different to seeing a MET call where the person is still conscious and able to answer questions about how they’re feeling, if they have pain etc. This was completely different.
There was a line of people taking turns in doing compression’s and one after the other would do their round of 30 then get off the bed and the next person would get on the bed and start again. All the while, doctors, ICU nurses, anesthetists (basically everyone you could think of) were trying to work out what had happened and why. There were also really hard decisions being made like if they would intubate the patient and when they would stop doing CPR. It was full on to say the least.
The person ended up ‘coming back to life’ and two days later he was back from ICU talking to the nurses who did CPR on him. He was so thankful, even though he didn’t remember any of the experience.
I had quite a few emergency experiences this week actually, and without sounding weird because someone was deteriorating, I LOVED them! I love how when it comes down to those situations everyone does exactly what needs to be done, as quickly as possible while still being calm.
So before I sign off on this Mini Series I wanted to say some take home messages I want other people to take away from these four weeks.
For the nursing students or anyone thinking about doing nursing the main things I want you to know is that even though you are a ‘student’ you are still an asset to the team and to patients so don’t talk yourself down or think less of yourself because you’re not as qualified as other people you will work with on placement. Following on from this is a cliche phrase that is SO relevant to placement – confidence is key. If you are about to do something for the first time (on a real person) and you look like you have no idea what you’re doing, you look scared and nervous as hell, everyone around you (patients included) will pick up on those vibes and make you feel worse. Just own it. This goes for when you speak to educators as well! They will drill you about what you know if you look like you have no idea what you’re doing/talking about.
To people who aren’t ‘nursing minded’ can I just say one thing – placement is not easy. We are expected to work full time hours for weeks at a time without being paid, PLUS our employers from casual jobs also want us to work on our ‘days off’ so we can end up working upwards of ten days in a row. This on top of regular uni work like assignments and exam prep takes a massive toll on every student. It is exhausting.
I am passionate about nursing and I hope this series has given you some insight into the life of a student nurse. As always I am always happy to answer questions or help out anyone that wants to know more about studying nursing so feel free to contact me here.
On that note, it’s time to end this series.
Thank you for coming along this roller-coaster of a journey with me.