Nursing Times blogger Stuart Young reflects on his final week of clinical placement and what his time in theatres has taught him.
What an eye opening and enjoyable experience my critical care placement in theatres has been!
This week saw the end of my high dependency module clinical practice placement, and from it I will take away several new skills and a greater respect for the work of those in theatres.
During my placement, I saw patients arriving in theatre with nervous looks on their faces and experienced first-hand the skills used by nurses to relax and comfort them. Indeed, the airway management skills I had learned from the anaesthetists during my time in the anaesthetics room were consistently put into practice during my last week.
In the main theatre I learned to scrub and the importance of the sterile field that is vital to the work in surgery. I was able to experience being a second scrub nurse for a couple of major operations; it is an amazing feeling to be assisting with something that is changing a patient’s life.
I spent the majority of my placement in recovery with one of the most knowledgeable and patient-centred nurses I have ever had the fortune to work with. I thank them profusely for sharing their knowledge and experiences with me. I learned the importance of arterial line management and discussed at length the significance of a detailed handover, a change in my personal practice highlighted in last week’s blog - a direct result of the impact the RCN Emergency Care Conference had on me.
During my final week of placement, I was able to follow one patient right through from their entry into theatre to anaesthetics, watching and circulating during their procedure before taking them into recovery myself, where I monitored their condition and completed the recovery documentation. Then, I returned the patient to their ward and gave a full and comprehensive handover to the nurse taking over from me. I found it very rewarding to have the chance to be with this patient from beginning to end, the patient expressing that they too found it a comfort to have someone looking after their recovery that they had met before the anaesthetic.
I am looking forward to being back in university this week and attending the official launch of the RCN students group, as well as saying goodbye to the RCN bus, as its project - like my placement – draws to a close.
The RCN Foundation is looking for applications for the annual awards for recent RCN student activists, sponsored by a grant from Professor Dame Betty Kershaw and her family, to acknowledge the value of the work undertaken by student activists and to support their continuing professional development.
Activists should apply within three years of gaining their nursing qualification. The closing date is 15 November 2010.