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Friday, 24 March 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Student Nurse

As some of you may or may not know I am a student children's nurse. Lot's of people are not sure what goes into this course. Firstly, it's a degree and professional qualification. Student nurses balance theory and practical work, working 12 hour shifts and doing essays at the same time - it's difficult but worth it in the end. I thought I would give you a run down of a typical shift during the day - we work nights and weekends too, to give you an insight into our crazy lives... Enjoy!

5.30 am
It's still dark outside. The rest of your nursing housemates aren't on shift today so it's deadly quiet. Your alarm goes off and after not much sleep from your 12 hour shift yesterday you hesitantly get out of bed to start another long day. All the while dreaming of when you can get back into your cosy warm bed. That'll be in about 16 hours you think to yourself.
Dragging yourself to put on minimal makeup and roughly tie your hair up, you make sure you've got everything you need. Usually including uniform, lunch, sign off documents and most importantly pens! You scoff as much food at your body will allow at 6.00am and head out the door onto 2 buses (because it's the cheapest route), and travel an hour and 15 minutes to the hospital you've been allocated.

7.30 am
Arriving on the ward is strange. Most the patients are still asleep, sometimes there's a faint cry of a baby. The lights are off and you see the tired looking night staff wandering around. Handover from the night nurses starts at 7.30am, where you get a run down of all the patients on the ward and what needs doing today. You are allocated some patients with your mentor and as a second year are given 2-3 of your own to care for. For the next 12 hours you'll be their main port of communication with other doctors and nurses, as well as the reassuring and friendly voice that helps them when they need it most.

11.00 am
After a busy morning, of organising when medications, and observations and various other things need to be done you take a 15 minute break. Being a student is lucky because you can take breaks because you are supernumerary (extra to actual staff) whereas another staff nurse might have to eat on the go or not at all because she's got too much to do. After your break, you get back to writing the morning notes on each of your patients, making sure everything is written legibly and worrying that you may have forgot to mention something. Each time you go to write a sentence, a phone call, a worried parent or an emergency arises and you must see to it. 

15.00 pm
The afternoon has been extremely busy, your mentor has given you many things to do, including liaising with dietitians and speech therapists on the phone, even taking over some of their patients needs whilst they go on break, all the while keeping on top of the growing list of patient's needs and trying to learn as much as you can from everyone. But in the end once your jobs are done for now, you are allowed to go on your lunch for an hour. It feels odd, you can't stop thinking about what needs to be done after you return. What if something happens whilst I'm here and I'm out of the loop, you think. Then remembering you're only a student and the staff nurses are more than capable you can relax slightly.

18.00 pm
By 6pm, some of my patients have deteriorated, and some have improved. More calls to the doctors to urgently come and assess them. Patient's returning from operations need extra attention. Observations every 15 minutes means you barely have time to do anything else. Rushing around fetching water, clean linen, food and snacks, and tending to basic needs. Taking phone calls, when you mention you are a student nurse, they say they will only talk to a qualified or 'actual' nurse. Trying to find that 'actual' nurse is harder than it seems and you feel bad about interrupting them. You hope your mentor, who's been watching you all day and questioning you about theory you learnt months ago, doesn't hate you and will hopefully sign of your documents at the end of the day. You worry you are being 'annoying' asking questions and not knowing where or what a certain thing is. Before you know it, it's time to write the evening notes about how your patients were, which ones went home or got worse, what needs doing and what you got done. Before thinking about going home you hunt down your mentor to co-sign everything you've written and documented throughout the day, and finally they sign off your hours for today - 11.5 in total.

20.00 pm
Finally leaving the ward for the day, you think about everything that happened today. The good and the bad, and how you felt about certain things that had happened. How you were pushed to your limits but you know it's for a good reason. Sometimes leaving the ward you feel extremely happy because a certain nurse said you'd done a good job today and they thanked you. All you can think is, you did your best, your exhausted and your feet feel like falling off, and it was all worth it. Trying not to think about the 2 essays you need to complete you make your long journey home again, all to do it all again in 7 hours.

Hope you enjoyed that recount of what a day on shift is like for me, being a student nurse is difficult and stressful, but we still do it because in the end we want to care for people (specifically children in my case) when they are in such dire need of it, and no matter how tired and stressed nurses are, they will always look after you. #savetheNHS

Thanks for reading!
Em x 
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