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Comfy shoes and coffee


Nursing Times blogger Verity Worthington wonders where do nurses get all their energy from?

Everyone told me I would be tired, yet I never realised just how tired I would be. At 28 I don’t consider myself too aged, yet since beginning the postgraduate diploma in adult nursing last month, I’ve begun to wonder.

Last week I went to a graduate social event, was home by 11 [drank diet coke all night] and spent the next day struggling to keep my eyes open in lectures. I was in my PJs by 7pm and fast asleep by 9pm. And we haven’t even got to the wards yet.

My undergraduate degree was in archaeology [no particular reason for this; it was at the top of the university A-Z list] - so this marks quite a career change. I’ve been to more lectures in the past three weeks than I did in my entire three year degree at Cambridge.

Since graduating in 2007, I’ve worked in a street clinic in Kolkata [I went to India to catalogue terracotta, but got exasperated with the corruption in antiquities, so turned my hand to something more challenging] with very fierce nuns who rise at 4.30am every morning [and don’t understand Sharps bins]. I thought I was hardened to gruelling days, but London is exhausting - and I never knew hand washing was such a complex issue.

I moved to London fresh from a summer battling a stubborn intestinal parasite caught in India. I found a very tiny room in a shared house; fondly referred to as the Shoebox (my copy of “Clinical Nursing Procedures” practically fills it). My housemates have been somewhat bemused at my excessive “practice” hand washing ready for the assessment. They think I have OCD. I’m sure I’ll mess it up. I’ll probably forget the soap.

It has become the joke among my fellow students that my fear of being late results in my arriving ridiculously early for lectures. Georgaphy has never been my strong point and it’s nothing short of miraculous that I have located and presented myself at specified locations on three different campuses.

London is quite big, isn’t it? I am yet to get used to the crowded morning trains, where my head usually finds itself embedded in a stranger’s chest, or worse still, axilla. I’m tired and flustered before I’ve arrived anywhere.

That said, there is a real buzz of excitement (despite the tirednes) among the students about our first placement next month and everything we have to do before then. I can’t wait to get into my uniform and onto the wards with “proper” (rather than pretend) patients.

All I need now is some sensible shoes and another cup of coffee.

About the author

Verity Worthington has just begun a postgraduate diploma in adult nursing at Kings College London


Readers' comments (4)

  • debra fretwell

    Your article made me giggle verity, if you think its bad now wait until you get into your second year we have lectures 4 days out of five and 9 week-long placements!

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  • Oh no no no Debra.... Verity, it is even worse. We had 5 out of 5 days and 12 week-long placements!!! Aha!


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  • make sure you get your coffee before going on duty. I started nursing when I was 29. to my surprise and consternation I was severely reprimanded by the night sister for replying to her, when asked how I was getting on on my first night of night duty, that everything was fine and the senior student nurse had kindly made me a cup of coffee. I had always assumed, and still do, that coffee was a basic physiologcal need, and esp. on nights.

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  • Yay, KCL Nurses! My secret weapon for combating shift work and commuting was Jaffa Cakes. You can eat them no matter how early or late it is, and I'm sure the orange bit counts towards your 5 a day. Good luck from a King's nurse

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