Student Nurse Helen Farmer’s fourth placement on a Women’s Health Unit starts with building relationships with her new team and confronting her fears.
The week began with the usual flurry of nerves that accompany a new placement. This time, I planned to be a little calmer and not pressurise myself into trying to pass all of my competencies within the first week! As placements have passed, I have learned that building relationships with the team is extremely important if you want to get the best outcome for your patients and also for your learning. So, I introduced myself with a smile to some of the doctors, cleaners, nurses, and clerical staff to name but a few, so as to show them that I was there to help and learn.
My efforts paid off during the day, when at some point or another I needed every one of them in order to help me find drinks for patients, access documents and discuss a patient’s plan of care.
My placement has several mentors and some people who are working towards gaining mentorship status. I found this reassuring as I assume from this they like helping students! I plan to provide them with evidence for their mentorship programme too; a real partnership.
My biggest fear has been an unpleasant one - and maybe one that students do not openly admit to. I knew by going to a women’s health unit I would see women who may have gone through a miscarriage or abortion and I was worried about how to support these women and those that they had shared this information with. I was also concerned about seeing ‘pregnancy products’ - a term that felt strange to me. I shared my worries with my lecturer before starting placement and even shed a tear.
I asked to see ‘pregnancy products’ at my first opportunity because I wanted to overcome my fear. I felt rather blank seeing a little glass jar, with ‘products’ in it. My emotions then turned towards the women that needed my help, now. Some felt relieved that it was all over, some grieving for their loss. One woman - who had clearly been crying - asked me to walk with her to the toilet. Upon our return she looked into my eyes as if wanting me to do something. I said: ‘We are here for much more than taking you to the toilet you know’. She held up her arms for a hug and began to cry. I could not take all of her emotional pain away, but I offered comfort and compassion - maybe the beginnings of the healing process?
Helen Farmer is a student nurse at University of Worcester, currently on placement on a Women’s Health Unit.