Saturday, 14 February 2015


I hadn't expected to find being a qualified nurse so different from being a student nurse.  But as well as qualifying, I also moved hospital; and so many things are done differently at this hospital to the ones I trained at (often done in a better way, too).  

These past six weeks have been an exercise in humility as I have had to re-learn how to do some of the simplest things that I assumed I'd already mastered as a student:
  • a new type of catheter bag that empties with a tap not a valve;
  • beds that have completely different controls (and that work reliably, unlike the ones at my last hospital);
  • a macerator rather than a bedpan washer (infinitely nicer and more hygienic);
  • completely different cardiac montitors that have integrated ECG machines - no more going hunting for a portable ECG machine, wheeling it back to your patient, plugging it in, connecting it all up and then finding that it has run out of paper - here I just press 'print' on the monitor;
  • a whole different system of ordering food for my patients;
  • completely new prescription charts, fluid charts, nursing notes and observation charts;
  • wound dressings that I've never come across before;
  • cleaning everything with old-fashioned chlorinated water, rather than anti-bac wipes. 
My new colleagues have been so friendly and supportive.  It didn't take me long to feel a part of the team.  However, I still do a double-take when I catch sight of myself in the mirror and I am wearing the royal blue scrubs of a Staff Nurse, not the grubby white tunic of a student.  Sometimes I feel like a capable, qualified nurse, and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I know what to do and sometimes I don't.  I work much more slowly than the other nurses, and that is another lesson in humility, because in order to be safe, I have to ask for help more often than others.

New uniform

I have at least one moment in every shift where something suddenly happens, an alarm goes off, my patient deteriorates, and I mentally shriek to myself "Fuuuuucccckkkk!!!".  But either it is something I can quickly fix myself, or I need to call for help and another nurse is by my side in moments showing me what to do.  I learn more each day than I ever thought possible.

And that's the joy in this new job.  Intensive Care is a stressful place to work, but its also so very interesting and fulfilling.  Patients are at their most vulnerable and at their most sick, and it is deeply satisfying to be able to nurse them one-on-one and give them really good quality care for thirteen hours at a time.  I am using my brain as well as my heart, and I love that.

On my way home #joysofcommuting #London