|Fresh, white uniform drying on the line|
My nursing course has reached a new stage. The teaching at University has now finished, and from now until I qualify at the end of December, I am out on placement (with a couple of holiday breaks in there too). I have three stripes on my epaulettes, and the nurses I am working with expect much more from me now that I am in the final part of the course.
I didn't feel remotely ready to finish the teaching element of this course. In the last week at University I became less and less convinced that I could ever work as a nurse. The sheer enormity of what the job entails seemed overwhelming, and as we crammed in the last few bits of theory I felt derailed and uncertain that I could do this. But after just one week back on placement, this time working in the frenetic and dramatic environment of one of the UK's biggest and busiest emergency departments, I have regained my confidence.
Nursing is such a practical, hands-on job and when we are out on placement we are constantly doing - washing, giving medication, carrying out procedures and observations, documenting, assessing, making comfortable, feeding, communicating, soothing and investigating. Since I started back in September 2012, I have learnt how to do all these practical skills, and become gradually more competent in them without even realising.
The theory is crucial too - medicine always needs to be based on the best available evidence, and without the theory to underpin the practice we are in danger of carrying out tasks ritualistically and unthinkingly. We need the teaching and critical thinking skills that the University element of our course has given us, but on their own they're not much use. I love placement for bringing the theory and the practice together, and I think that is ultimately what I love most about nursing - I get to use the academic side of my brain, whilst also doing something that is completely hands-on and practical.
Working in A&E is fascinating. You see every possible type of person and condition you could ever imagine, along with things you never even thought possible or wanted to see. I have never known a 12 and a half hour shift pass so quickly, and even three weekend nightshifts in a row didn't wipe me out as much as I thought they might. At 4:30am, on the third night I cleaned and dressed a massive cavity wound in the foot of an elderly homeless patient who amazingly slept through the whole procedure and then woke up at the end to inspect the quality of my bandaging, say thank you and give me one of the broadest grins I have ever seen. We had a laugh and a quick chat, which left me on a high for the rest of the shift, and I thought to myself, I can totally do this job.
|Arriving at work for the start of Saturday's nightshift|
|Leaving work on Sunday morning, and heading home to bed|