You're sitting visiting someone in hospital and you overhear the most ridiculous questions being asked by another patient's visitor. Of course you can't come right out and tell them the answer to the question because then you have to admit that you've been listening in on their conversation.
That's when your quiet sarcastic voice makes her self known and you realise that you're that catty nurse you didn't want to be. So when the patient says that they are waiting for their gas to pass and their visitor asks why can't they just put a needle in and extract it manually you have to stop yourself from telling them how stupid they're being. Because this would puncture the gut and increase the risk of infection.
Yep that's the catty sarcastic nurse from the ward placement right there.
So, while I've been on placement I've had the chance to see the whole admissions process from a nurse's perspective and now it's time to see it from the patient's perspective.
No, it's not me who is the patient but my mum. Once again her abdominal ulcer has ruptured and I estimate she lost about 2-3 pints of blood at least before she got to the hospital (possibly more). So now I'm sitting in the waiting room of a hospital ward while the nursing staff try and stabilise my mum's SpO2 levels, which aren't for usually all that good to begin with.
It's strange being on this side of the folder this time, especially since it's a different NHS board so I don't know what questions are in the nursing admission. The whole time I'm sitting here I feel like saying "just tell me what questions you need answers to and I'll fill them all in for you, and I'll man your phone as well". Hey, I can be useful while sitting here feeling useless.
Being a Learning Disabilities student in the world of nursing students means that I was placed within the community for my first two placements, which covered the space of 9 weeks in total. However, at my institute (at least) means I have been placed within an acute setting this time around for my 8-week placement, this allows for the final year students be given priority for LD specific placements so that they can be signed off for their qualification.
I was initially wary about entering this type of environment having spent so much time in the hospital with my mum over the past two years, but I have been wrong in judging all hospital wards being like this. I have found that in the past 9 shifts on this ward I am seeing what I always pictured myself as a nurse in myself. I am being trusted with more tasks and being trusted to work more independently.
I understand that a 3-week placement and a 6-week placement with 1 university day a week does not measure up to the fast pace of a ward where there may be a high turnover of patients, but I have settled in more in the space of 9 days than I ever did with my previous placements. Yes, placement 1 was my introduction to what is expected of an LD nurse within the community and I did get to sit in on a lot of meetings and visit clients,. This prepared me for the work expected of me in my second placement, but when I was there I was treated like I was starting over again and I felt useless, but I think it may have just been due to a conflicting personality with my mentor as I felt I was trusted with more tasks in the week she was on annual leave. Now I am only 3 weeks into my final placement of my first year and although there have been the challenging patients, there are also the ones who really need to be in the hospital and are extremely apologetic. These are the patients that make me want to be a nurse, they are making me see that perhaps my place is in an acute setting, in a ward and not in the community like many in my specialty end up.
It’s true what they say, you’ll always remember your firsts; first love, first kiss, first day at work. But what they don’t tell you is when you enter nursing that one of the firsts you’ll remember will be your first death.
I’m currently on my final placement of my first year, and due to my choice of specializing in LD nursing, this is my first time being on a ward. Of course, hospital wards mean you are more structured and are expected to wear your uniform, which I was looking forward to, but it also means you need to expect the worst. The worst may not always be what you expect it to be; being slammed with admissions while you are short staffed while carrying out hourly obs may seem like the hardest thing in the world, but when you get into the swing of things you’ll find time will fly.
This past weekend saw me on my first three shifts on a ward and they were night shifts, which I love, but they also saw TRNSMT Festival happening so were on alert just in case we were slammed, but luckily the festival-goers were well behaved. The ward I was on also had a palliative care patient, and unfortunately, on my last shift of the weekend, he died. Having worked in a care home previously I had experienced death to some extent, but I had not prepared or wrapped the body following said death, so this was an experience. I was asked to help one of the ward auxiliaries in the process, and I will be eternally grateful for this experience. He talked me through everything, explaining that although we wash the body as if we are giving a bed bath, we do not soak it to the same extent. We also put a fresh hospital gown on the body and showed me the proper way to prepare the sheets on the bed so that the family, should they wish to see their loved one one last time before they are taken to the morgue, cannot tell that the two sheets will soon be wrapped around the body to transport it to the morgue in dignity. All the while, we talked to the body, much like Ducky does in NCIS, and this made me feel more at ease.
This is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life whether I end up working on a ward, in the community or somewhere completely different and I am glad that I have got to experience it early on in my nursing career and not several years down the line, where I do not have the excuse of being a “little innocent firsty” were I to show emotion.