21 May, 09 | by John Offen
Tomorrow I start my new placement at the local hospital. For the next eight weeks I will be nursing student in residence in the ‘Day Unit’, and am looking forward to getting stuck in to some practical nursing after all the essays and course work. I am also planning to try to put into practice some of what we have been learning about evidence based practice at university. I feel a little aggrieved that once more I do not have a ward placement. Half way through my course, and my tally is two nursing homes, an outpatient department, and one seven week placement on a surgical ward. I know that nursing is becoming less and less about hospital wards, but I am starting to dread meeting my fellow students and hearing them talk so knowledgeably about things I have barely heard of. I console myself with the thought that we probably all feel the same, each suspecting that others are getting better experience than we are. Still it’s scary to imagine qualifying and being let loose as a ‘real’ nurse any time soon! I have heard nurses saying that it all comes together in the third year – I hope so.
I must say I enjoyed my first day. It involved managing a list which consisted of three gentlemen for vascular surgery. I struck up a good relationship with all three, relieved after my previous placement in outpatients to spend more than a few moments with each patient. Managing the list seems to involve admitting the patients, taking them down to the day theatre when called for, collecting them afterwards, and monitoring them during their recovery through to discharge. It does not seem too difficult.
My first clinic was not representative. This is hard work. I fondly remember the coffee breaks and business meetings of my previous career in IT as I shift my weight from one aching foot to the other. What possessed me to throw away a good salary and a nine to five job for this?
I had my initial interview with my mentor today. She oozes calmness and experience, and tells me I am doing well. I am not so sure. I am in awe of the staff nurses’ multitasking abilities. In my previous career I kept a ‘to do’ list which I reckoned was a pretty reliable and efficient way of organising myself, but this is different; there are hundreds of things to do every day, and they all seem important. I realise that you are not remembered for the ninety nine things you remember to do, but for the one that you plain forgot about. I have had decent results in my exams and assignments at university, but sometimes I just don’t feel clever enough to be a nurse. The experienced nurses manage it all so effortlessly. How will I ever be able to do that?