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


  1. I'm glad it's going so well Nancy, you're an inspiration indeed. Your patients are lucky to have you. CJ xx

  2. I'm so pleased you're enjoying your new job. It's interesting to hear how things are done differently in your new hospital. Part of my work has looked at how healthcare professionals learn at work especially at the point of transitioning to new responsibility (for example when you're newly qualified) so it's really interesting for me when I meet this sort of reflection when I'm not in that working mode.

  3. You are obviously already a wonderful nurse and will grow to be even better as time goes on! Anyone would be lucky to have someone as obviously caring as you as their nurse! Congratulations on your new job and I hope that you find it satisfying and interesting! xx

  4. Well done and keep up the good work. I am a sister on a chemo unit and still regularly have those moments lol. They keep you grounded as a nurse, make you keep learning and not complacent and eternally grateful for excellent colleagues. You can never know everything!

  5. Gosh Nancy, I've never wanted to be a nurse except for the times when I read your posts about it! Now all we need to do is get the NHS to start human cloning and then make lots of Nancy Nurses so every hospital can have some!

  6. I've been a nurse (and a midwife too) for over 30 years (that makes me sound really old yikes!) and am currently a practice nurse. Some things never change but lots of things do and I feel I am constantly learning too. Keep up the good work. I think mature students are better equipped rather than the naive 18 year old I was when I started. You will have loads to bring to the job just from your life experience. And your patients experience will be all the richer for it.

  7. Ahh this is great to read. I've 18 months of qualifying as a midwife, sometimes I'm terrified, others excited. So glad you are enjoying it, you sound like a fabulous nurse

  8. Hi Nancy, just dropped by as I often to to see if you're around. I hope that all is well with you, and that real life is treating you well (I mean real life as contrasted with blog land). I've read and enjoyed your blog for a while and always found it so interesting and well written. Hope you decide to come back some time, but maybe you just feel you've run your course with it, in which case, thanks again.
    All good wishes, Deborah

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