I’m in my second year so I feel I’ve ’levelled up’ from first year - grown both in a professional and physical sense, the latter as a result of numerous boxes of Celebrations which seem to have been carelessly left laying around at this time of year
One thing that stood out in particular is that I have developed a massive aversion to saying ‘no’, to the point where my brain will turn into a twisting, curling mush of possible methods in which I can fit everything I need to do (plus extra) into the shift, whilst still being the perfect, helpful and amazing student that I expect myself to be.
As I am now a second-year my responsibilities have increased. I am currently on placement in a cardiac surgery ward. On most shifts I am given my own patients - a bay of six, for example - to look after under supervision.
”My desire to […] take in as much as possible means that I rarely say ‘no’ when another member of staff asks me for a favour”
This involves all the care and documentation that a registered nurse would provide as well as trying to create my own learning experiences such as observing specialised tests and procedures, following other members of the MDT and attending teaching seminars and student forums.
My desire to create my learning experiences and take in as much as possible means that I rarely say ‘no’ when another member of staff asks me for a favour or issues that immortal phrase ‘are you busy?’
”I need to come to terms with the fact that I cannot juggle my work and compromise the care of my patients because of my personal fear that people’s perception of me will decrease”
A common example would be to supervise a patient in X-ray, which often leads to spending a considerable amount of time off-ward with a sizeable chunk of my own work still left to complete. However, as a student, I never feel like I have the right to say ‘no’ to someone for fear staff will think I am lazy, unhelpful, ungrateful, uncaring or even worse, less than perfect.
I need to come to terms with the fact that I cannot juggle my work and compromise the care of my patients because of my personal fear that people’s perception of me will decrease. It will lead to burnout and I’ll end up sitting in a puddle of my own tears mourning the loss of my hairline.
Instead I am slowly learning to say ‘no’ guilt-free. Having the confidence to see myself as an inclusive staff member with something valuable to contribute, rather than at the very bottom of the ward hierarchy, has increased my self-assurance in saying ‘no’.
“Saying ‘no’ will always be a decision I have made autonomously with valid reasons and evidence to support me.”
Rather than seeing a refusal as an outright act of defiance towards the person asking - which could be taken personally and adversely affect my career - saying ‘no’ will always be a decision I have made autonomously with valid reasons and evidence to support me.
Saying ‘no’ with the right attitude makes all the difference to how other staff members respond to your decision. This has been essential in developing my new found professional assertiveness.
Know your value and limitations is the single best piece of advice that has been given to me on this placement and one that I will continue to build on throughout my professional life.
Chloe Marsh is a current student nurse.