Before starting this rollercoaster of a degree, I had no idea of the hard work, dedication and pure exhaustion involved in nursing
Studying to become a nurse has truly been the most astonishing experience I have yet to encounter. I didn’t have much life experience before university in the grand scheme of things I now realise.
Yes I did some travelling in Australia and worked part-time in retail but I had never really experienced hard work and devotion to a vocation until now.
”I have experienced the consequences of high demands and hard work that can lead to mechanical- and routine-based care”
Despite this, as a student nurse I have experienced the consequences of high demands and hard work that can lead to mechanical- and routine-based care.
Picture this: your 5am alarm screams out after five hours of poor sleep.
This is a struggle for me as I am not a morning person. Coffee is needed, and some mornings I’d prefer continuous infusion.
You’ve finally got yourself ready and out of the house. The sun is rising. You have had continuous early starts with 12 hours on your feet during which you haven’t been hydrating and keep promising yourself after this patient you’ll go to the toilet. You can imagine the physical burnout your body will feel.
During my days off whilst on six-week placements I spent more time sleeping than my teenage brother averages.
“I’ve been on shifts where a patient has become ‘bay two, bed four’ and their care has become a list of abbreviations and tick boxes”
So after experiencing my fair share of nursing shifts I do have a better insight into how routine-based nursing can happen. And it does happen. I’ve been on shifts where a patient has become ‘bay two bed four’ and their care has become a list of abbreviations and tick boxes.
Bay two, bed four - MI, cath insitu, 4 hrly PAC, IVI running
Bay two, bed five - T2DM- BM BD, cat 3 right heel dressing due
Unfortunately, care can sometimes become hardened, as it appears sometimes that’s the only way to achieve all the tasks at hand when you’re physically and mentally exhausted. The list of jobs is ever-growing and there are a limited number of nurses available to deliver care. 12 hours may sound like a long time on your feet, but when time is against you it flies by.
As a student it can be easy to become engrossed in ward culture, to follow the particular set rules of said environment. However, remember the patient behind bay two, bed four.
“Step back every so often from the whirlwind of your ward or health care environment and remember why you wanted to be a nurse”
I wanted to become a nurse to offer individualised care to people. I want to care and improve an individual’s quality of life, whether that’s helping them to wash their hair or assist them in eating their evening meal. I want to reflect in practice what I have learnt in university - that patients are individuals who deserve humanised care to enhance rather than hinder them.
Step back every so often from the whirlwind of your ward or health care environment and remember why you wanted to be a nurse; not for the routines or checklists but for that individual sat in front of you. Don’t become hardened within the institution; keep true to your personal and professional values.
Make sure that by caring for others you don’t stop caring about you and lose your sense of self.
Danielle Tirel is a current second-year student nurse.