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On the wards

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‘For once I felt in control’

Today I’m feeling good about myself. Why is this? This morning’s news has just told me that I have possibly increased both my children’s IQ by up to seven points as I breastfed them as babies. It’s great feeling good about oneself but it can be a rare occurrence. Work has a particular knack of leaving me feeling dissatisfied with myself. I feel bad about all the things I haven’t done and should have done.
However, one day last week I came home feeling good about the whole world of medical nursing. How could this be? One of my patients had died and two had terminal conditions, one just diagnosed that day.
I felt good because my patients had got the care they deserved, even though the first part of the day was particularly
busy. A number of factors came into play. The ward was well staffed. In fact, we were slightly above average with four qualified nurses and one nursing auxiliary instead of three qualified nurses and two auxiliaries. We also had one supernumerary new member of staff.
Also, all the nurses worked as a team helping each other. Everyone gave me support as I had one critically ill patient in addition to six others. When caring for a critically ill patient I find it is difficult to attend to the needs of other patients. However, on this day, everything got done thanks to my colleagues and I felt in control of the situation.
Being in control at work is important to me as at times when it is so busy, you just lose the plot. The nurses and doctors worked well together. We had a consultant to make decisions and two more helpful junior doctors you could not hope to find. When my patient died, soon after transfer to a high dependency area, there were no feelings of guilt about what we should have done. We had done everything we could. This makes death much easier to deal with.
The last factor is an uncontrollable one and just happened during the shift. I had a breathing space. As the day progressed things calmed down.
Someone went home and another person was transferred to another ward. I was left with only four patients. For the first time that I can remember there were no patients waiting for my precious beds in either A&E or the medical assessment unit. I was able to check the admission documentation and notes for my patients and filled in lots of blank spaces. While going through one lady’s activities of daily living, I had time to sit by her bed and just talk for 10 minutes. She was desperate to talk and I’m sure talking with her aided her recovery.
At the end of the day I went home feeling at peace with the world and more importantly feeling good about myself.

Gail Smith is a staff nurse in Cardiff

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