My primary emotions when stepping onto the ward of a new placement are curiosity and tension as I wonder if I will live up to expectations of my peers.
I always strive to please other people, but as I get older I realise more and more this is just not possible to achieve all the time.
My most recent placement in theatres has been delightful and shown me a completely different side to nursing care. It is strange to not have handovers and morning ward rounds but no two days are the same, which is what I enjoy.
“I always strive to please other people, but this is just not possible to achieve all the time”
My second week into recovery I started to find my feet and feel more confident with what, as a third-year, I should be doing. I had just recovered a patient and came back into the recovery room. Whilst I was talking to a member of staff another nurse walked in and explained to the nurse there was an operation that was going to take longer than expected due to unforeseen complications.
“The situation wasn’t looking good and the staff who were involved were doing all they could to help save the patient’s life”
The atmosphere changed in an instant but all the staff remained calm and in-control. However, as time went on it was clear that the situation wasn’t looking good and the staff who were involved were doing all they could to help save the patient’s life.
“A fellow student and I were eager to see the events unfold from the sidelines”
Another student and I were eager to see the events unfold from the sidelines, without being a burden or getting in the way of course.
I could see one of the staff nurses performing CPR. There was a large amount of blood and instruments strewn all over the place. It did look like a scene from a film. I have never seen anything quite as hard-hitting and traumatic as this before and it all became too much. All I could think about was the man’s family and that his chance of survival was looking increasingly limited.
When a traumatic case is unfolding and the team are in the midst of it they must subconsciously suppress their emotions and deal with the problem head-on, remain professional and hold it together as it were.
“All I could think about was the man’s family and that his chance of survival was looking increasingly limited”
Although I was not in the room with the patient I cried and let emotion overcome me. A colleague, seeing my state, came up to me and proceeded to tell me this may not be the area of care I am suited to. I had not seen anything as traumatic so far in my nursing career as what I had just witnessed and the reaction of this colleague to my distress certainly did not help me regain my composure.
“I would rather do what comes naturally to me and have a patient’s family know I care”
Some nurses say to me that I should try to detach myself from the situation, but after feeling the nurses didn’t show enough compassion towards my family when my grandma unexpectedly passed away a couple of months ago, I would rather do what comes naturally to me and have a patient’s family know I care than have them conclude that to me, this was just another patient.
Later on, the team took a small break to drink some tea, gather their thoughts and speak to anyone if they needed to do so. I was sent home as it had clearly been a trying day for me.
“If I am to be remembered by patients it would much rather be as the nurse who showed compassion and kindness than one who was cold and unsympathetic”
When I got home I spoke to my mum. She is always there for me to offload onto and as a shoulder to cry on, and she can often empathise with my situation as she is also a nurse.
I told her about the colleague who had suggested that to show my emotions was problematic. She told me flatly to ignore it, carry on being who I am and the fact that I cared would strengthen my nursing practice. And she is right. There needs to be a balance, yes, but if I am to be remembered by patients it would much rather be as the nurse who showed compassion and kindness than one who was cold and unsympathetic.
Rachel Feather is a current student nurse