Yesterday was my first day on placement - and it rather went to pot.
“That’s okay” I hear you cry. It’s alright to mess up catastrophically on the first day of your first placement. But this wasn’t my first day on my first placement; I’m now on my fourth.
By now I should be a dab hand at making first impressions, quickly assessing the ward routine and slotting in without a fuss. Alas, that just isn’t me. I can’t picture I time when nerves haven’t led me to say something daft or just plain trip over in front of everyone.
“Then it went wrong. I got nervous. I became tongue-tied.”
2.2 is the placement proceeding entry to third year. It should be the one where things slot into place and you start to function with some confidence.
It started well with a welcoming mentor and instructions to shadow the nurse in charge that day.
Then it went wrong. I got nervous. I became tongue-tied.
On my first drug round since my first placement (I’ve had no ward based placements for an age now) she asked me what Enoxaparin was used for and I proceeded to say “um” for an eternity.
“I felt a complete failure and as though the nurses were all grateful I wasn’t their student.”
I know what the drug is. I’ve administered it so many times. It’s even on the exam I’m currently procrastinating over. I can tell you what it does, how it does it and on a good day, even the dose.
But this first day was just not meant to be one of those good days.
The day continued in a similar fashion. I tripped over (those shiny clean floors seem to catch my shoes), I missed a buzzer and I accidently said a bit of an innuendo that made those around me laugh and caused my face to blush.
I tried to feel a pulse on a man without a pulse (he was still alive, don’t worry) and I had to ask how to put together the most complicated commode of my life. When did we start having to build these? What happened to simple commodes that you just sit on?
“At the end of that day, that patient knew my name. I did (in the end) manage to do something useful.”
All in all, the day was pants. I felt a complete failure and as though the nurses were all grateful I wasn’t their student.
However, there was a little bit of light at the end of this grim tunnel.
A patient took a bit of a turn and I wasn’t altogether useless. Yes I didn’t do the medical bit. But I did hold her hand and speak to her calmly throughout.
At the end of that day, that patient knew my name. She thanked me. She told her daughter about me and she also said thanks. I did (in the end) manage to do something useful.
I may have forgotten how to do some things and that’s fine. Those skills will drift back to me with practice. And in the meantime I do still have the ability to reassure a patient, keep them calm and be a nurse they can trust.
Vicki Abrahams is Student Nursing Times’ adult branch student editor