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'What amazing things have you witnessed while on placement?'

On placement the other day I witnessed a practical procedure that left me feeling truly astonished.

It was a procedure called ‘cardioversion’. When a patient’s heart is beating out of rhythm and the symptoms are severe enough to warrant the risk of a general anaesthetic they are connected to a defibrillator and shocked. The hope is that this process will restart the heart’s natural rhythm and alleviate any symptoms.

I was genuinely amazed that this process even existed. It’s one of the amazing things about being a student nurse, you can turn up one day and be introduced to something you may never have considered before.

So while I was pushing the resuscitation trolly out of the recovery unit towards the theatre in preparation for the cardioversions, I started thinking about other things that have amazed me while on placement.

There was the time when I came back from work after spending a day in the x-ray department. I told my wife that I had seen the most amazing procedure to date. Under the guidance of x-ray, a doctor had inserted wire into a patient’s groin up one leg and down the other and inflated a balloon to allow blood to flow through the vein. Then just to make sure, he inserted a stent (a little tube to keep the vein open).

It was one of those occasions that really made me marvel at technology.

I want to know what procedures or treatments you have come into contact with through your training that have left you lost for words.

What are some of your wow moments?

Readers' comments (65)

  • Iain Collingwood

    Hi Adam, I am not actually on placement yet as I start my course in September but have personal experience! After 42 years I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and underwent two separate operations on my brain at Addenbrookes.

    I am in awe of the surgeon, how does one learn to perform such operations? If you would be interested in more detail let me know!

    Kind regards,

    Iain Collingwood

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  • Anonymous

    watching open heart surgery (with Mozart playing gently in the background) from the observation gallery of a London teaching hospital.

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  • Anonymous

    Whilst working as a HCA in a palliative oncology setting before starting my training, I was about to assist a patient with a bed bath when she had a stroke right in front of me. Another time, I was actually in the room when a lady in her 30's passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer.
    Whilst neither of these were enjoyable, they were both truly amazing, and I feel privaledged to have been able to care for them at such a vulnerable time in their lives. The memories of both experiences will stay with me forever, remind me of the fragility of human life, the power of nature, and help me to put things into perspective when I am struggling.
    After all, birth and ultimately death are the only inevitable things in life. The opportunity to be able to holistically care for another life at it's most vulnerable is a truly amazing experience in itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 28-May-2012 7:04 pm

    you write an excellent post. After a long career I realise that in hospital you see patients who are sick without having seen them beforehand when they are well and it is the situation that one accepts in one's job of caring for them.

    It wasn't until my Mum died suddenly and at an unexpected moment in front of my eyes I realised how truly fragile life can be and how it can be drained out of somebody in a matter of seconds. Here with you one minute, and gone never to return the next.
    I have never again looked at anybody's life, and especially my own, in the same light after such an experience but it is strange that many patients who look as though they cannot survive may suddenly bounce back and yet some who seem to have a relatively good chance of survival can so suddenly pass away which is why through so many experiences I am opposed to the 'end of life' label until the very last two to three hours when it appears inevitable.

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  • Anonymous

    Mr Roxby

    Did you proof read your contribution ? Are you comfortable with your use of English?

    Whilst you seem to have been "amazed" what have you learnt?

    I am truly "amazed " how did a "wire" inserted in a patients groin then manage to then go up one leg and down the other? I am also amazed that "wires" also have balloons !

    To witness a cardioversion for the first time may be "amazing" but I do not recognise what you call "beating out of rhythm" as a diagnosis which would lead to cardioversion being undertaken.

    So what abnormality of cardiac rhythm was the patient suffering? Would you recognise the same rhythm again? Is cardioversion the only treatment for this rhythm? What level of defibrillator energy was used to effect the conversion? Did you find out if the defibrillator was a biphasic model or a different type ?

    Was the patient really given a "general anaesthetic"?

    Did you discover what contraindications there might be to cardioversion.

    Finally please do not think of me as being critical of you. What I am doing is hopefully assisting you to reflect on what you have learnt and how that is going to help you care for your patients !

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  • Dear JRT,

    I consider your response to Adam to be excessive and bordering on the offensive. He is trying to stimulate discussion of placement experiences that stand out in the mind - not providing an exegesis of their technical aspects. I agree that he over-uses "amazing" but tant pis or so what?

    I'm glad that you (partly) ID'd yourself; I wish contributors would put their names to their contributions rather than hiding behind anonymity. I apply the same principle to anonymous complaints. We should not be reluctant to ID ourselves, in my view. Perhaps someone could explain to me the rationale behind this cloak of secrecy.

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  • Anonymous

    "Perhaps someone could explain to me the rationale behind this cloak of secrecy."

    it is an option offered here by NT and it is thus the right of every commentator to exercise this choice if that is what they feel most comfortable with. If you wish to challenge it address your complaints to NT instead of taking out on those who have chosen this label.

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  • Hi, I wrote the post that starts 'Whilst working as a HCA in a palliative oncology setting...' and I would like to explain why I posted it anonymously.
    I was worried that my comment would not be viewed as constructive by some people who have different views on death and mortality to me. Whilst I believe as nurses we should be accountable for our own judgements and professional rationale, on a personal level, our opinions and beliefs can often be misinterpreted. On a forum such as this, where there is a fine line between personal and professional accountability, I did not want to be misinterpreted and prompt angry, personal comments. Since the mood seems fair and I dont seem to have offended anyone (yet), I am happy to be accountable for my comment; whether you agree or disagree with my view; and any constructive discussion that may arise from it :)

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  • Anonymous

    Laura Wyles | 29-May-2012 9:38 am

    the anon option is provided by NT to be used for fairly obvious reasons and you do not have to justify why you chose it to anybody.

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  • I did not feel I had to justify my actions, rather offer an explanation as to why someone might choose to use the 'anonymous' option when posting a comment :)

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