Monday, 25 February 2013

Wearing nail varnish again

Nail varnish and watch are back again 

I have finished the first placement of my nursing course - 10 weeks working on the wards, under the supervision of qualified nurses.  I've now done 450 of the 2,400 hours required to qualify as a nurse.  It feels like a milestone.  

Inevitably there were challenging moments, but I truly loved it all, and met some lovely patients and inspiring nurses along the way.  This week I am on study leave, writing an essay, before going back to University next week.  It's a strange shift of perspective after doing such practical, physical work for the last ten weeks.  I'll be at University until the middle of May, when I go out on placement again.  I think this mixture of classroom learning and practical learning is one of the strengths of nursing education in the UK today - it makes for a stimulating and interesting course, and I think it will produce nurses who are practical but also thoughtful.  That's the sort of nurse I would want looking after me or my family.

I feel slightly jet-lagged after working long shifts and getting up at 5:20am on my work days.  It's lovely to now be able to lounge in bed in the mornings, wear my hair down, put nail varnish and my watch on again, and not be constantly washing and folding uniform.  I miss the people though, and am wondering how the patients I was looking after last week are getting on - have they gone home yet?

At least my essay distraction techniques have not been forgotten while I've been on placement - so far this morning I've washed the kitchen bin, made a batch of yogurt and now I'm blogging.  Happy times.

Essay time again
Essay time again

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Nursing detritus

Removed from my uniform before I washed it this morning: 
  • 1 pen eye torch
  • 2 black biros
  • 1 upside down watch
  • 2 student epaulettes
  • 1 name badge
  • pot of lip balm
  • tube of lavender handcream
  • scissors
  • Royal College of Nursing student essentials guide
  • assorted hair grips
  • 1 small notebook
  • 2 rolls of surgical tape

Nursing detritus  

Thursday, 14 February 2013

10 things

  • I'm very tired, with dark smudges of sleeplessness under my eyes.
  • I went to Kew Gardens today, walked miles and made myself even more tired.  Then I took photos of myself against a wall of orchids.
 Blending in with the orchids at Kew  
  • My desk is a mess, which is very un-Nancy-like.
  • I made Graham an apple and almond crumble cake for his birthday today - it is very, very good.
  •  My laptop died.  I bought a new laptop as soon as I could because I have essays looming.  I find it scary spending that much money in one go; I'd be rubbish at being really rich.
  • All my iTunes playlists somehow got wiped when I moved iTunes over to my new laptop.  What I thought was a disaster has been rather liberating and I am enjoying wasting hours of my time putting together new playlists.
  • I've nearly finished my placement at hospital, and once this essay is handed in I go back to University for a few months.  I've loved working on the wards but I am looking forward to getting back to the lecture theatres and seeing all my friends again.  I can also use it as a legitimate excuse to buy new stationery.
  • Olivia's very long, dark, thick hair goes up in a bun for ballet twice a week.  I love her hair like this.  How many buns have I made in the last seven years she's been doing ballet?
 Her ballet hair
  • Cam is watching Big Bang Theory, via our Lovefilm subscription - he loves it.  I am getting sucked in, and love it too.
  • I made a loaf of raisin bread today.  Just because.  I shall take a couple of buttered slices with me to work tomorrow. 

    Sunset at Kew

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Day off

I have learnt since I started this work placement that days off are not actually days off - Graham calls them recovery days, which is more accurate.  If I work a couple of thirteen hour shifts in a row, then I spend most of the following day off napping and washing piles of uniform.  However, occasionally the shift pattern works in my favour and I have just one shift on, followed by a couple of recovery days .  Then the second one of those days becomes impressively full of possibilities as I am awake enough to leave the house, and do something interesting.

Today was one of those days.  I headed for the National Portrait Gallery, which always has new things to see, and is a delightful and not too busy treasure right in the middle of London.  I wanted to see the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait prize exhibition, which only has another 10 days or so left.  It was as good as I hoped it would be - the photo of Mo Farah was my favourite.

I prowled around the rest of the gallery, catching sight of the Kate portrait, swinging by the Tudors and the Stuarts and playing 'spot the women' in the Victorian galleries (other than Queen Victoria herself, there are not many).  One of the few I found was this one of Florence Nightingale.

After I was tired of wondering around, I retreated to the wonderful Digital Space on  a mezzanine in between the ground and first floors.  Here you can sit in comfy chairs and play with the gallery's Portrait Explorer software on large touch screens.  I had fun looking up the other portraits of Florence Nightingale, which the gallery holds but does not usually display.  There are 33 of them, and after looking through all of them I felt I had a much better idea of what Miss Nightingale looked like than I did after looking at just one portrait.  She had a very elegant, slim face, a determined mouth and rather captivating eyes.  I am not surprised she was a force to be reckoned with.

I left the National Portrait Gallery, and as I crossed the road heading for Embankment tube station I stopped to admire the large statue opposite me, which has long been one of my favourites in Central London. 

Edith Cavell's memorial, outside the NPG

The statue is of Edith Cavell, another nurse who should really be as famous as Florence Nightingale.  In most hospitals today, you will still find a ward called Cavell Ward, after this legendary figure.  She was a great nurse, and a pioneering teacher of nurses, who was executed by the Germans during World War I for helping British and French soldiers escape from the Red Cross Hospital she was matron of, in German-occupied Brussels.  The National Portrait Gallery holds four portraits of Edith Cavell, none of which are currently on display, but all of which can be seen on Portrait Explorer here.

As I the tube rattled me home, I even travelled past the hospital where I am doing my placement, and I reflected that even on my days off I don't seem able to stray too far from nursing.