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'I know I can only be a portion of a real nurse if I do not become a team player'

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Student nurse Claire Aubrey realises that’s it great to be independent but nursing is also about teamwork

While on my last placement I was walking an elderly patient to the toilet when my mentor asked if someone would go through neuro-obs on a patient who had suffered a recent fall with a sharp bang to the head.

Scanning the room, I quickly realised that I was the only available competent member of staff in the room to complete the task. I decided that the best thing was to swap duties with someone else and so, quite innocently, I asked if anyone would be willing to take over for me. Well, I might as well have asked them to jump off a cliff, the reaction I got. Complete silence with a somewhat awkward undertone of no one wanting to speak first. Why? What on earth was going on? Was I being unreasonable? Was I being bossy?

Of course, I did what any sensible, well-rounded person would have done - I panicked. Unsure of whether no one had heard me or whether I was just being ignored I launched into a garbled nonsense about needing someone to help this person while I had to do that and that I didn’t mind taking patients to the toilet, it’s just that my mentor had asked and it was time and they needed doing frequently and blah, blah, blah. If I had been worried about not making a good enough impression to delegate before my speech, it certainly provided the proverbial icing on the cake of shame.

Someone did come to my rescue eventually but it really got me thinking about why the whole thing came about. It was mortifying to suddenly realise you are a very solitary and isolated worker but whose fault is that?

While I did not think it was right that no one came to help me sooner, I can not help but think I had set myself up for that kind of fall.

I do get on with people but I am and always have been a very independent person. Perhaps it was time to realise that I had little-to-no rapport with anyone at that moment because I am the kind of person who gets a job done, who infrequently asks for help (never at the risk of a patient’s safety, of course) but basically if I can go off and get on with it, I will.

However, where does this leave me as a team member and how can I possibly expect people to assist me when I ask them if they barely recognise my face?

It reminded me of a time when I broke down in the office with my mentor on the same placement. She was wonderfully supportive but it occurred to us both during that chat that it had long been established that I went about my duties and she went about hers. I was flattered. Being given such responsibility and freedom to make choices is truly complementary.

However, I know I can only be a portion of a real nurse if I do not become a real part of the team and collaborate with my peers on a new, undiscovered level. I will always be independent and I will always value my times of isolation but I want to be the best nurse I can be and become a part of things for patient care and for myself.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It is important to reflect on our practice both as student nurses and registered nurses to see how we can improve/change how we work. There is however, another possible reason why no-one responded to your request to look after the lady who needed taking to the toilet. Another possible reason is that some (and I do mean some, not all) HCA's do not like responding to requests from students. Whilst I was a student it was not unheard off for the HCA's to 'disapper' for a whole, or most of, the shift off the bays/areas which had students on or for them to suddenly be very busy if a student asked them to help a patient to the toilet. This behaviour was often commented on by the registered staff too so this is not 'just an observation by a student' or 'student attitude' or 'student communication'.

    When reflecting you need to look at other possible reasons for the outcome of a situation other than choosing to blame yourself. Sometimes will be your action/in action that causes the outcome but sometimes it is others actions or in actions that cause the situation (or a combination of the two).

    Good luck with the rest of your placements.

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  • Appreciate your comment - it's given me a lot of food for thought. I'm writing my next reflection about this incident and so this has given me an extra angle - thanks again! :)

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