I’ve been thinking about how all the weird and mostly wonderful places I’ve worked are shaping the nurse I will become
Before starting my course, I had no real idea of exactly where I wanted to end up, other than it would hopefully be somewhere big and exciting, with new things to learn and challenges to face every day. Somewhere where I didn’t know what was coming through the door from one day to the next.
“Although many of my colleagues have done the exact same placements, each experience has pushed me further down a path that is uniquely my own”
I didn’t realise just how different each aspect of children’s nursing really is, and how different personalities really do suit different fields better.
Like most students, I’ve done placements all over, from respite care to A&E, mental health to maternity. I’ve found that although many of my colleagues have done the exact same placements, each experience has pushed me further down a path that is uniquely my own.
I did a palliative placement a few months back, and had the honour of caring for a young infant and her family in her last few days of life.
Lots to learn there, and certainly challenging, but definitely not what you might call exciting.
There were no dramas, no emergencies, I pretty much knew what was behind that door when I walked through it every morning.
And yet, I loved it. I loved working one-to-one, slowly, gently, helping to guide the family through an experience which would change their lives forever.
I came out of that placement thinking that I was pretty sure that palliative was where I wanted to go.
But, little niggly doubts have started creeping in lately about whether it would be ‘exciting’ enough, fuelled mainly, I think, by the fact I’d got an A&E placement to look forward to - you don’t get much more exciting than that!
“I’m pretty sure I would have got it all wrong if I’d had to make a decision before my training”
I’ve just finished my A&E placement, and although I enjoyed it and learnt loads with a fantastic mentor, I really didn’t like it as a setting.
This surprised me given my desire for exciting challenges, but I found I really missed the longer-term nature of care, the ability to form a solid relationship with a family and see them through.
What I saw was swift, ‘see and treat’ interactions, with either a discharge or transfer to ward within four hours - all positive and full of great care, but something I found deeply unrewarding.
I worked alongside an excellent set of nurses, all of whom clearly loved what they do, and thank goodness that they do love it, because there is obviously a need for nurses working in A&E. But I’m pretty sure I will never be one.
I realised afterwards, that not only does each placement teach me things that are relevant to my course and make sense of all the theory, but I am slowly learning about myself, what I want from my life and my career, and where I want to head for when I’m qualified.
We are so lucky to have all of these experiences, both good and bad, because I’m pretty sure I would have got it all wrong if I’d had to make a decision before my training.
Rachael Starkey is Student Nursing Times’ editor for child branch.