I am 18 months into my training as a Nursing Associate. This week I am halfway through my student placement in the Emergency Department. I have been on placement for 5 weeks and have a further 6 weeks to complete my placement.
My week consists of 2, 12.5 hour shifts in A&E and a 7-hour study day. The week begins with a long day in A&E. I wake up to the alarm at 5am. My drive to the hospital takes 30 minutes. I like to arrive early for my student placement in A&E. When I arrive at the department, I change into my student uniform and wait in the staffroom for handover. I spot my supervisor and we spend a short time chatting about what I would like to achieve in learning today. I have already made a plan and ask my supervisor if I can work in the pediatric department. I have limited experience with nursing children and felt that this would be a great opportunity to learn the challenges of providing nursing care to children and their families.
The department is quiet on arrival, so I am shown around the department and familiarized with the equipment, ward and staff. The nurse explains the process of what happens when a child presents into A&E and assures me, I will be able to get plenty of hands-on nursing experience with the children. It doesn’t take long before the department fills up, bustling with health care staff and patients. It is a noisy and busy environment. There are plenty of opportunities for interaction with the children, I soon realize communication is key to helping relax the children and family members. I take lots of observations, ECGs, weigh children, take samples, listen in on consultations, escort patients to X rays, help to clean and dress scrapes and assist with plaster casts. I am focusing on skills of communication helping to calm and relax a child. It is impossible to take a blood pressure on a terrified, screaming child!! I spend a long time looking after a young child suffering with croup. The child has a language barrier; however, we manage to communicate through simple sign language, smiles and thumbs up. The child is on oxygen and requires close monitoring, I feel a huge responsibility to ensure the child is kept safe and communicate any concerns with the doctors and nurses. By the end of the 12-hr. day I am shattered, my feet are throbbing!! But I’ve had a great day and learnt loads. The doctors and nurses were excellent and willing to share their expertise and knowledge with me.
Day off Tuesday and Wednesday, but with this course your mind is never far from studying. At the moment, I am halfway through a 5,000-word essay. The essay is going well but takes up a lot of my spare time. I wouldn’t say the academic standard is easy, it is certainly challenging and does require focus and application. My family are very understanding, it really helps to have plenty of support around you! The staff at the university are equally very supportive and if you feel you are struggling then there is always someone to listen and help!!
Every Thursday we have lectures which are held online at the moment. These are really valuable sessions, and it is a good time to catch up with other students, share concerns and learn together. Today we have a lecture on frailty. This provokes lots of discussion as we debate the ethics of elderly patients paying for social care.
Friday night and I have a night shift in ED. I sleep for a while during the day and am ready to start the shift at 7pm. I am in Resus tonight; we already have 4 critically sick patients. I am doing a patient pathway and have chosen to follow the care path of one patient tonight, learning in detail about the treatment and management of the patient. The care is complicated, there are lots of different conditions that the patient has and lots of nursing intervention to stabilize the patient. I am assisting the nurse with the care of the patient but am focusing on making decisions in patient care and using my initiative to implement care. I am applying lots of learnt clinical skills under observation of a trained staff member. When the shift is finished, I am proud of my input today, I have used initiative and the nurse gives me some lovely feedback. I have a spring in my step as I leave work in the morning. I sleep like a log and wake in the late afternoon. I have a day off tomorrow and am dedicating this to family time. It is really important to ensure you get the work life balance right and spend time with family and friends relaxing, ready for the next week ahead!!