Hannah found she experienced a different emotion every hour while on placement at a nursing home
I was excited when I found out my first placement was in a nursing home.
I naively thought of a nursing home as a pleasant, settled place, where I would have lots of time to familiarise myself with patients, and put into practice everything I had learnt at university.
That was the first thing I would have to change, they weren’t called patients, it was “residents” from now on.
As my first day fast approached, I realised I had a few niggling worries. What if I became fond of someone and they passed away? What if somebody tells me they don’t want to be there, how do I respond? I suddenly felt underprepared mentally.
I sometimes see nurses in situations I know I would find difficult to deal with, yet they always remain professional. Is it because nurses become naturally desensitised I wonder, or are they holding back until later?
“In no other job have I experienced such a range of emotions in such a short space of time”
In healthcare, we are not only dealing with our own emotions, but with others more vulnerable than ourselves, potentially looking to us for reassurance and stability. So how do nurses provide that support while maintaining poise and professionalism?
I was to find out within the first few weeks of my placement. The term ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ I feel epitomises this experience.
In no other job have I experienced such a range of emotions in such a short space of time. It began with nerves on my first day, that was until I met the staff and residents and became more at ease. I was excited about each new skill I learnt and about the prospect of putting theory into practice.
But I couldn’t help questioning myself. What if I don’t do it right? What if I hurt the person? My excitement turned quickly to fear of failure. Shortly afterwards (nine times out of 10) I would then feel relief at successfully completing the task, followed by frustration at the amount of paperwork that had to be filled out repeatedly over and over….
“What if I don’t do it right? What if I hurt the person?”
During a shift I could quickly find myself changing from calm whilst being taught how to knit by a resident, to anxious sitting by a resident’s bed who was experiencing heart problems.
From the rush of adrenaline at the start of a busy shift, to those last few tired hours, where time slows down.
From clowning around with the care team on a night shift, to sharing someone’s pain.
From the happiness of watching someone improve, to the grief of seeing someone pass away.
From pleased, to unhappy, laughing to crying, the ultimate emotion I felt, however, was content.
This is the career for me.
Nursing can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows, as is life. But we do it from our desire to help and support people in need. I learnt it is okay to show your emotions and okay to take a private moment to let the emotions out. It helps to have family and friends around you and to have the right work-life balance.
It’s a rollercoaster I look forward to riding.
Hannah Fox is in her first year studying Adult Nursing at Bournemouth University