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Does ‘Bedpans and Bandages’ give nurses and student nurses the respect they deserve?

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24 February, 2014

Last week ITV aired the first of its new series looking into the lives of student nurses. The producers say ‘Student Nurses: Bedpans and Bandages’ will offer “insight into what it takes to become a nurse in the 21st century”.

What a huge responsibility for the group of student nurses featured, not to mention their tutors and the teams they’re working with. They’ve been given a unique opportunity to challenge the negative stereotypes about nursing and nurse training that have emerged in recent years, and I hope the producers allow them to do this.

When we asked student nurses on Twitter back in August what they would like to see included in a documentary about their training, the overwhelming response was that they wanted people to realise and appreciate just how much work they do and the role they play as members of the multidisciplinary team. Many voiced that they feel the general public think nursing is an easy degree, requiring little academic input.

The title “Bedpans and Bandages” does little to challenge this stereotype. Although, arguably, calling it “Coursework and Exams” would do even less for the cause as no one would watch it.

My worry was that the programme would be edited for entertainment, and feature a set of larger-than-life characters whose lives appear to alternate between embarrassing moments and heartbreaking scenarios that cause them to question themselves and grow as a person in the 10 minutes they are being filmed.

The first programme, however, felt accurate. Yes, there was motivating music, tears and spilt urine samples. But it also showed the levels of responsibility students are exposed to, it showed their need to be personable and the high levels of intelligence and initiative that are essential to becoming a nurse.

It featured an incredibly likeable student nurse sat at a desk voicing her surprise about how much work the course entailed, accompanied by close-ups of her crowded timetable. Nurses were shown leading healthcare, making quick decisions and challenging anyone who dares suggest the profession lacks compassion.

 

Have you been watching? What do you think?

Readers' comments (15)

  • I believe the title for the programme came from a focus group activity. Originally it was to be called 'Nurse to Be' but this then changed. So this is a good example of the public perception of nursing rather than a production companies view. I am sure as the series goes on it will show far more than bedpans and bandages and will highlight the dedication of our students and their sheer hard work. Well done to everyone in the programme and to all student nurses up and down the country currently undertaking their training. :-)

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  • tinkerbell

    I enjoy watching it. Think they're a lovely lot of students.

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  • i enjoyed the program but found it unrealistic.

    the mentors are obviously on their best behavior and very aware of the cameras.

    most student's experiences of mentors are much more lack luster, many are not interested in mentoring, and even the good mentors do not have enough time.

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  • Moira McLoughlin

    Thank you for highlighting the behind the scenes work that went into the production of this documentary. I was involved for just over a year supporting the film crew in the Salford university setting, liaising with the Trusts and being involved in the final edits. The students however are the real stars of this production displaying warmth, honesty and the desire to do well in their chosen profession. The viewing figures have increased this week from just under 3.5 million to 4.5 million and we were trending on twitter on Friday night, a testament in a small way of the interest the programme has generated. However, despite what some TV critics have written about the lack of interesting characters, this is about the reality of learning to do a job day in and day out in the NHS and balancing that with coursework for undergraduate degree study. Big Brother it ain't..... Real world it is and only a snapshot at that. Please bear with them and applaud the when they finally join the workforce.

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  • I believe the title for the programme came from a focus group activity. Originally it was to be called 'Nurse to Be' but this then changed. So this is a good example of the public perception of nursing rather than a production companies view. I am sure as the series goes on it will show far more than bedpans and bandages and will highlight the dedication of our students and their sheer hard work. Well done to everyone in the programme and to all student nurses up and down the country currently undertaking their training. :-)

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  • I've only seen one episode, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like Tinkerbell says, the students seemed a lovely bunch and I think the programme presents nursing in a positive light and demonstrates just how hard the students have to work in order to qualify.

    'Bedpans and bandages' seems a good title to me, what should they have called it: 'bed crisis, no break'?

    I think you forget once qualifying, just how interesting and exciting it all was when you first started out and this programme brought it all back to me.

    I hope they all do well a find jobs etc.

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  • tinkerbell

    'bed crisis, no break'?


    Made me chuckle:)

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  • 'bed crisis, no break'?

    made me chuckle too, but more suitable to once qualified.

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  • I laughed at the title - thought it was a bit of fun!! Loving the programme although some staff are clearly aware of the cameras. Good on the programme makers and the people taking part - hope this runs for a while

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  • Nothing wrong with the title and I would suspect that the public want to know that 'bedpans & bandages' are just as important as the academic work that the hard working students have to submit. Well done to all involved.

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  • I am really enjoying this so far. I would have liked a more 'fly on the wall' type documentary though to show the real way in which students have to push to gain their clinical skills whilst being used as an extra pair of hands

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  • Myself as a 2 second year Bsc (hons) mental health nursing student enjoy the program, although do think to myself that it is a arrow look into Nursing. This being that it seems to only focus on the adult Nursing field with no representation of Learning Disability or Mental Health student Nurses?
    As much as I understand that Adult Nursing is what the general public see as Nursing, I would really love to see more programs out there that take a look at all fields of Nursing to widen the publics view of 21st century nursing.

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  • Another series on " General Nurses " wouldnt it be great for the Public to see Psychiatric Nurse Students for once. It appears yet again that Mental Health and Learning Disability are not represented. This is not a go at the general nurses because you guys do a fantastic job, but am frustrated that my profession is hidden away from the public who have very little understanding what Registered Mental Nurses do or Learning Disability Nurses.

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  • Graeme Baker | 4-Mar-2014 4:22 am

    there is a great opportunity for you.

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  • It's not on in Scotland :-( I don't know if it's going to be shown later?
    (Have tried ITV Player, but not on TV version, and crashes my phone)

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