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OPINION

'A "cog" in the massive wheel that is healthcare'

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Student nurse Helen Farmer observes that overcoming barriers with calmness and communication is vital.

As the pressure on the ward mounted, the need for effective teamwork was essential.

On the women’s health ward, the phone was ringing, people were asking to have patients admitted, patients were waiting to be discharged and theatre were asking for patients to be collected. I was imagining if I was in charge, the pressure I would feel I was under as I wondered where to start. I had one of those ‘student wobble’ moments as I began to doubt my capacity to deal with so many things at one time. It appeared that sprouting an extra pair of arms was the only solution, but as this was not a feasible option, our team managed as best as we could through keeping calm and prioritising our work with a plan.

With the pressure on these departments, it was easy to see how the emotions of staff could become elevated and the potential for communication breakdown was evident. Fortunately for our patients, all departments worked together to get patients discharged safely and make room for new admissions, as well as collect theatre patients. Although a stressful shift, I felt quite proud of our team that not only had the goal been achieved but it was executed professionally and inter-departmentmental relationships were preserved for the future, which was also a valuable asset.

This was a valuable learning experience, as I realised that my own clinical area was a ‘cog’ in the massive wheel that is healthcare. I now realise that when you are having a bad day, you can reflect upon the fact that what you do as an individual makes a huge difference to the patient - even if they never realise it. I will try to hold this thought close when my team are challenged with multiple complex tasks at the same time in the future.

Helen Farmer is a student nurse at University of Worcester, currently on placement on a Women’s Health Unit.

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