Now I am at the end of my course I have had some time to sit and reflect on my journey as a student nurse.
I have had many experiences in the past years that I will never forget, many happy, some sad, but all of them experiences that enabled me to learn and develop. Here are just a few that I will remember throughout my career:
Graduation: My own graduation is of course coming up soon but this graduation was for a client that had completed his 18-week drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme. I met this person on their first day in detox and they were one of the first clients I was assigned to care for. On the day of admission this was a person that could take no more and desperately wanted to get well. Years of substance abuse had taken its toll, physically and mentally. They were frightened and broken and it was a privilege that I was given the opportunity to work with this client throughout their journey of recovery. On the day of graduation from the programme I don’t think I could have been prouder. I saw a transformed person in front of me, one who still had a long way to go, yes, but now filled with positivity and motivation and belief in a future without drugs and alcohol.
Witnessed resuscitation: Not every experience in nursing is a happy one; for one, my first attempt at CPR was one witnessed by the patient’s partner. This sticks in my mind because of the things the partner was saying whilst the CPR was being carried out, things that I think all of us would be saying to a loved one in that position, but they stuck with me. My role that day was to work with the team and perform CPR to the best of my ability, ensure that the patient was given the best chance possible. In my heart I believe that I did this. Although the partner was supported by another nurse I could still hear her distress and this was particularly difficult. I am only human; I know what it is to love and lose people. I aim never to lose compassion or empathy for patients or their relatives.
Musical memories: My fellow students and me put on a musical memories event for patients who have dementia. The event was designed to be fun and interactive and was particularly nice because we held it during the Christmas period. This is not a great time for anyone to be in hospital so we felt this may improve their experience, if only for a short time. The event was a huge success and the smile on the patients’ and their family members’ faces were well worth the effort. ‘Thank you’ one patient said in their feedback, ‘you made me feel like I have not been forgotten about’. For me, this is what nursing is all about, making a difference, and I am confident on that day our presence did make that difference for those patients.
Saying goodnight: Throughout my time as a HCA and student nurse I have sat with many patients as they have taken their last breath. We are privileged as nurses to be able to do this for people. Not all have family or sometimes people have not been able to make it in time to see their loved one before they die so I believe that we should give that comfort. We can perform last offices with the compassion and respect the person deserves. I take pride in doing this final act for my patients, and although it will be impossible for me to remember names of each patient that I will do this for throughout my career, I will always give my best to them.
Leanne Siekiera is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for adult branch