Lauren’s Student Nursing Experience

On Wednesday 2nd September (8pm-9pm UK time) @EBNursingBMJ is co-hosting a twitter chat on student nursing and midwifery with @RCNStudents 

To celebrate the contributions our student nurses/midwives make – we are sharing blogs of their experiences in practice.  Today’s blog is from Lauren James a second year student nurse from Birmingham City University

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Hello! I’m Lauren. I am 20 years old, and just about to start my second year of paediatric nursing at Birmingham City University. My road to nursing is pretty normal, I decided I wanted to nurse due to having a number of illnesses growing up, also most of my family are in some sort of medical profession. For me there was no question to which field of nursing I wanted to do. I have always loved being around and caring for children. I have 4 siblings and they all have been such a massive influence on me and how I wanted to make every child better and help every child when they felt their worst. I also went to Africa and saw the children and visited a few African hospitals, it broke my heart – I couldn’t bare to listen to cries of pain without wanting to cuddle them and make it all better for the children, their parents and carers.

I started my nursing journey last September. I was accepted into BCU after thinking I’d majorly messed up the interview. I moved cities from a little farmer town to Birmingham (a massive shock) and had to adjust to living in halls away from my family, boyfriend and friends. The main thing for me this year was my confidence. I threw myself into university life, tried to make sure I had a good circle of ‘uni’ friends and got on with working.  This year I’ve completed two placements on top of my academic work. I’ve been placed in a medical observation ward and then a surgical ward – both in a children’s hospital.

This year has taught me more about myself than I could have possibly learnt in ten years on my own. As much as I tried you can’t do everything. If I wasn’t revising or learning for tests, I was doing assignments, or preparing for practical’s, ironing my uniform or sorting out how I was going to spend time with my friends whilst working 13 hour shifts… at one point it just got way too much and I had to step back and say actually tonight I’m not going to spend 6 hours reading I’m going to go see my friend then do it tomorrow. IT WORKED!

I have to say, and I wish someone had told me, NOTHING will prepare you for that first day walking into a ward in a uniform. No matter what colour your uniform is – patients assume you are a qualified nurse of some sort. It is terrifying to say the least! I didn’t want to do anything wrong, and even the slightest thing I didn’t know or did wrong I beat myself up about… and really I shouldn’t have. It’s so easy to forget when you are on ward for 10 weeks and you aren’t qualified! You have so much to learn but you never really stop learning anyway.

This year has really taught me just how blessed I am. This year not only have I been touched by every patient I have been in contact with but their families are going to be imprinted on my life forever. Working in the field of paediatrics really touches the heart of so many people, you see these children who are poorly and you know they deserve your 100% best effort to help them and their families.

When I started this journey I thought that just meant the best medical care. I had to have as much knowledge as possible, I must be the best at every assignment and exam but no, actually most patients and their family don’t really care what grade or classification that you have, they want you to be empathetic, be with them and explain what is going on.

At points it meant being there for parents whilst they explain to their child about an operation they must have and the complications that may occur, to just comforting a child that hadn’t stayed in hospital before. It’s important to remember it’s not just the children we work for, the parents sometimes need you more than the child does. Countless times I have spent time with parents who are waiting for their child to come out of theatre and there has been a complication, we don’t know why or what has happened and all we can do is talk about the weather until we get the call  to go and see their child.

I know this blog is different to the other ones that have been written on EBN over the last few days, but I’m so thankful for what I’ve learnt and the people who have been there for me this year and I really wanted to be ‘that person’ for even one new starter this year. This year has been hard, and yes I know the next two are going to be even harder, but I’m lucky. I have an incredible family who love me unconditionally and always have my back. I have friends both at home and in Birmingham who understand I can’t be a normal university student, but that meeting for breakfast at 8am IS totally normal after a night shift. My cohort is filled with such amazing people who I really wouldn’t change for the world – there have been people who have left to do other things but still are the most amazing people and forever will be part of my nursing life. I have a boyfriend who loves me and listens when I come home crying about a patients journey that’s touched me. Mostly however, I have my patients. Those who have touched my heart in a way that I will never forget and those I haven’t met yet. WE are all in this together. Every paediatric nurse is in the same boat and at time it feels lonely, but reach out – you’ll be surprised how many people are there ready to catch you! You can do this, We can do this!

Lauren James


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