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'Seeing the patients forge friendships and share stories is fantastic'

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My little girl has learnt two valuable lessons this week. The first was discovering that oxo cubes are not chocolates. The second was concerning death.

Her Granddad’s dog died earlier in the week so her Daddy tried to explain the concept of death, dying and not being there anymore to her. She found it very distressing.

My little boy is still too young to understand death, he is only aware that his granddad is sad. I think he perhaps thinks that his granddad’s dog is lost somewhere and will come back soon. I think he’s basing this on the fact he lost his favourite toy last week at nursery and it was found again yesterday. To him his granddad’s dog is just lost.

I believe the way people view death depends on their age, life experience, religious views and are all subjective to the individual. 

There is a brilliant feel of camaraderie about the ward as the patients all chat together and share experiences.

I am currently on placement on a male cardio-thoracic ward. Most of the patients are admitted for open heart surgery. For the majority of them, the surgery is a massive wake up call. There is a brilliant feel of camaraderie about the ward as the patients all chat together and share experiences. The pre-op patients often share bays with post-op patients and they seem to find it hugely re-assuring seeing people who have experienced open-heart surgery up and about just days after the operation. The majority of patients care about each other and as soon as they realise that someone who they met 2 days ago is back on the ward after their surgery, they go and catch up with them. Seeing these men forge friendships, sharing stories, laughing and generally just being thrilled that they are alive is fantastic. Most patients leave the ward determined to make the most of life, to exercise more, stop smoking and eat healthier. The thank you cards that are sent to the ward are beautiful to read.

Once again I can’t believe how lucky I am to be having such a positive experience as a student nurse. The staff are all fantastic, I have been given 3 mentors and all the qualified staff are happy to work with me and share their knowledge. One of the doctors has even taken the time to sit down with me and explain things that I was struggling to understand. 

I can’t decide if it’s the positive attitude of the staff, the positive attitude of the patients or more likely a combination of both that is making this ward in particular such a wonderful learning experience for me. Whatever it is, I am enjoying it thoroughly.

  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • I'm a 2nd year adult student nurse and I'm halfway through my 3 year course and currently completing my fifth placement.

    I have learnt (during my first year in particular) that your experiences as a student nurse very much influence your views, expectations and ambitions. A horrendous six week stint on my first placement on a respiratory ward in my first year almost had me decide to quit. The reason? Negative staff who didn't have time for students, a miserable environment and patients who for some of them, actually didn't want to be living all made for a massively demotivating experience.

    Things however did improve over the course of the first year with each placement improving on the previous one. I had become more interested in the patient's story, the relationship that I had not only with the patients but also with the staff and now I'm enjoying my fifth placement but safe in the knowledge that there's much more to come during my final 18 months.

    One great day's training can equal nine awful days and somehow, out of the littlest of gestures, the tiniest level of appreciation and the twinkle in a patient's eye can have me remember why it was way back in 2003 that I decided to become a student nurse in the first place.

    I agree with you Katy, positive experiences can spur you on to greater heights and reignite a passion that you felt before you started out on this long and winding road.

    When asked what I do for a living, I proudly reply; "I'm a Student Nurse".

    Enough said I think.

    Melvin (UCLan, Preston)

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  • Anonymous

    Our job as nurses now often requires us to provide education about the dying process.
    Times have changed since death was a very public part of life and the dead were viewed in peoples homes.
    Many have never witnessed a person dying. In such cases we are needed to assist them through this first confrontation with death.

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  • Anonymous

    I am on final final placement now and to be honest all the placements I've had throughout the course has been tough with long distance travellings which can be quite draining but I try to make good use of everything, both good and bad. Lost a bit of confidence in my mentor but just hanging in there.

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