Have skills, will nurse
Nursing Times blogger Verity Worthington looks forward to her first placement as a student nurse.
The time has nearly arrived. On Monday morning I am allowed to put on my uniform (which is actually the wrong size) and set foot (in sensible shoes) on to a ward with proper patients and the upside-down watch.
I would have blogged before, only I’ve been too exhausted. I’d like to stress that I’m not normally so sleep-centred, it’s the result of just-shy-of two months in London.
Where did October go?
Since my last blog I have successfully learnt: how to wash my hands, how to perform a simple aseptic non-touch dressing (without squirting saline all over the assessor), how to bruise my friend’s arm trying to get a good BP reading, and how to have lots of fun with hoists. I have also grappled with nursing science and had a very graphic dream about phagocytes and macrophages. My pink polka-dot folder is crammed with information. I touch it every night before bed in the hope that the science gets where it needs to by the powers of osmosis (or something like that). I even changed my Facebook name to Polly Peptide - my scientific alter-ego.
Tonight, crammed into the usual rush hour train and whilst getting up close and personal with strangers, I suddenly realised that I was a little nervous about embarking on my first placement. There was a moment of sheer panic when I wanted to scream for Valium and/or a brown paper bag. I have got used to silent, plastic limbs on which to practice (“are you OK Annie?”), and fake scenarios in the skills centre setting. The thought of a real patient actually responding is quite terrifying. And what about the “proper” nurses who must surely be dreading having some ward-virgin to look after? I’m naturally clumsy; I’ll drop something, I know I will.
My first placement ward specialises in colorectal surgery. I got a book out of the library with rather disturbing pictures in it. I opened it on the train and got some very odd looks. It’s perfectly reasonable for children to wail and for adults to have loud conversations on their Blackberry - but get out a book entitled Colorectal Diseases and you’re viewed with utter disdain.
As I waited for the microwave to heat up some lentil soup - drastic measures are needed if this uniform is going to look anywhere near decent - I contemplated why I wanted to be a nurse. I concluded that I really rather like people, and providing care at a time when they’re vulnerable and making their stay in hospital more enjoyable, are key factors. I’m also rather intrigued by this body of ours and all the wonderful things it does, however difficult they are to understand.
I’m still quite scared.
If you happen to work in London and see someone in an ill-fitting uniform skipping along a ward looking confused, it’s probably me.