End of year 1!

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I can now officially say that I am a second year student nurse! There have been times throughout this first year that I thought I would never be able to say that, I haven’t found the assignments to be particularly challenging but I have doubted myself in every way possible this year. Is my writing good enough? Am I good enough on placement? Will I ever have the right amount of knowledge to qualify?

I’m sure these are thoughts that a lot of us have had and will have again throughout the next 2 years of our journeys!

I am excited to get started with year 2 and get some more assignments, it seems like forever since I had anything to research and write about 😂 Although I may not be saying that once I get the dreaded research assignment!

My first placement of year 2 will be on ITU/HDU for 6 weeks, with 2 weeks annual leave in between. However, I won’t be off for the 2 weeks as I will be working at my bank job. I do have a visit to Harry Potter Studios to look forward to on the 6th April though!

I have so many expectations for second year, mainly due to what other students have said and things I have read on Internet forums. I am worried about the year 2 blues (although I worry about everything as you will know if you follow me on twitter, so that is nothing new 😂). I know I have a fantastic support network around me to get me through if the year 2 blues do hit.

I doubted myself so much at the beginning of the course and I still do now,  it’s a confidence thing and I think I’ll always be the same. I’m not the kind of person to admit to feeling like I’m good at something and would always rather play my skills down instead of shouting about them. Despite some amazing feedback from both my year 1 placements, I still have doubts about my abilities. I can see how much I have grown throughout this first year though and hope to continue to grow throughout year two.

In year 1, I achieved grades between 70-98% and would love to keep this high standard up throughout year 2 now that the grades start to count towards my final degree classification. I make no secret of the fact that ideally I want to qualify with a first so I need to keep focused on that goal.

During first year, my future focus has shifted from ward work as I now feel this is not where I can see myself in the future. I still have a passion for cardiology though so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a placement on the cardiology ward at my placement hospital. My next placement is something completely different to my year 1 placements and I am excited to get started on there.

Let me know how you found year 2 and if you have any tips for me 😊

Love,

T x

First placement begins!

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Rewind back to May 21st. I woke up to loads of messages telling me to check placement allocations as they had been uploaded. I went on to find I had been allocated a ward in a community hospital as my hub placement for year one. This means I will return here three times throughout the year around spoke placements and university. I did a google search of the ward and found out it was an elderly rehab ward. My first feeling was disappointment. I bank in a residential care home and thought it was going to be exactly like work, I had wanted something really different and interesting.

Everyone was excited for their placements and I was feeling deflated. I had already formed an idea in my mind that it would be boring and that I wouldn’t be able to learn much. The week before I was due to start, nerves were building and I was worrying that I wouldn’t know anything and that I would just be in the way all the time. I visited the ward and a third year student nurse showed me round. She was lovely and answered all my questions. She really put me at ease about starting the following Monday. I felt more excited about starting after I’d been so I would definitely recommend visiting your placement area before starting. Already knowing the drive and where I would park took some of the worries away as well.

I arrived on the Monday morning and went into handover. The handover sheets have everything about the patient on, including past medical history which I found really useful. The sheets have lots of abbreviations on so I wrote them all down and went through them with my mentor so I knew what they meant ready for the next days handover. I was introduced to everyone and all the staff seemed friendly. I was on shift with one of my mentors and the third year student who had shown me round the week before. She was on her management placement and she really helped me get settled into the routine of the ward in my first week. She was always willing to answer questions and allowed me to ‘get stuck in’ pretty much straight away. I spent the first day getting to know the ward routine and spending time with the patients.

Over the first week, I completed my initial interview with my mentor and we discussed what I would like to learn whilst I was there. I decided that I would like to improve my manual blood pressure taking, my placement area is perfect for that as they only take manual blood pressures. My confidence in taking manual blood pressures has increased already. At first I was worried the patients wouldn’t want a student doing it but they have all been more than willing to let me.

I am in my second week and I have already learnt so much! I have learnt how to fill out admittance and discharge paperwork, completed care plans, taken bm’s, administered enoxaparin sodium injections (these are subcutaneous injections), redressed wounds, applied leg bandages, completed district nurse referrals, continence assessments and removed a female catheter. I think it’s been a big advantage already having care experience as it meant I could go straight into shadowing my mentor, instead of spending a few weeks learning personal care skills. I have still helped the HCA’s with personal care when needed but it wasn’t something I had to learn. The HCA’s on my ward are fantastic, they know so much about the patients and are really helpful. I was conscious that I was going into their working area and didn’t want to be an inconvenience to them but they have all made me feel so welcome. Don’t be scared to ask your mentor anything at all, I am constantly asking mine questions about patients and medication.

I can honestly say that my first thoughts about the ward were completely wrong. Sometimes it is slow, especially in the afternoons but if there hasn’t been anything to do with my mentor I have spent this time talking to the patients. They love telling you their stories and it’s great to see them excited when they know they are going to be discharged. It is hard to step out of the carer role from work and into the student nurse role but I think I’m getting to grips with it now. I haven’t found it boring at all and I feel like I’ve learnt lots already! Being on a quieter ward allows you more time with your mentor, more time to ask questions and longer patient interactions. I’m already looking forward to returning in October and I haven’t finished this placement block yet!

Let me know any good or bad placement experiences you have had 🙂

Love,
T x

 

 

The benefits of social media

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Social media is a fantastic way to interact with student nurses from different universities, who are at the same point in their journey as you or at an entirely different point. There are many platforms that can be used to network with student nurses and qualified healthcare professionals:

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Facebook – groups such as Student Nurse Journeys & Beyond or the Royal College of nursing students are great places to ask questions or find out information. Request to join them and then post a little bit about yourself including which university you are studying at and what year you are in. 

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Twitter – Create an account, upload a photo and update your bio with some interesting information about yourself. People then know who they are chatting with. As you progress through your degree you will be able to offer advice to people beginning as student nurses. Tweets are limited to 280 characters so you quickly learn to be concise about what you are trying to say. Start by following your lecturers and other classmates, then go on to look for other student nurses/midwives. Interesting accounts to follow are:

@WeNurses , @WeStudentNurse, @WeMidwives, @WeMHNurses, @NurChat , @theRCN , @nmcnews , @NHS , @NHSMillion and many others!

There are nursing tweet chats often held by @WeNurses, as well as #teabrief with @WeStudentNurse. You don’t need to tweet you can just observe the conversations but it’s a fab way to find other student nurses, find up-to-date news for your field of nursing and share information about your experiences. If you include the # on your tweets, everyone following the # can see them. There is also #StNProject and #WeStNs for us student nurses 😊

You can also access journals, they will post a synopsis of the journal article which helps you to decide which ones to read instead of having to look through lots of articles. 

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Instagram – Instagram is a photo sharing site, people often use # on their pictures and by clicking on one of these you can find all the photos using the #. I often have a look through the #studentnurse or the #adultnursing ones which allows me to find other student nurses on there and follow them.

Finding other people who are on the same journey as you allows you to build a great support network which can help in times where you may feel there is only you struggling with assignments/placement or any other worries you may have. Finding qualified nurses/other professionals who work in the areas you may be interested in also let’s you ask questions about these areas. 

You can also discover new ideas or developments in healthcare which you may be able to take into your placement areas. You could use them in your assignments if they are able to be used as sources of information. 

I hope you find this guide to social media useful and let me know any tips you have! You can follow me on twitter @flamingcopper

Love,

T x

Its official!

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I can now officially call myself a student nurse! I am in the March 2017 cohort so my academic year runs from March – February and I will hopefully qualify in March 2020. Here is a recap of my first week as a student nurse.

Monday – I won’t lie, Monday morning I was terrified. I’m not the best at meeting new people, I’m quite shy until you know me so I can come across as quiet. I probably have the same worries everyone else had: will people like me, will I make a fool of myself, can I even do this 😬 It’s handy that I’m starting with three friends but it has been a slight disadvantage too, as it meant I didn’t have to force myself to talk to other people because I already had someone to talk to. We did chat to a few ladies outside and we did an ice breaker where we had to speak to others that we didn’t know.

Tuesday – We spent the Tuesday morning session meeting some more lecturers and other people who work around the university. Four students from year 2 and year 3 came in for a quick chat so we were able to ask them questions about the course and placement, which was very helpful and allowed us to get a better perspective of the three years ahead. We attended the freshers fair in the afternoon, there were representatives from RCN and Unison amongst others. I would recommend attending yours as there are a few freebies to get your hands on. It’s a great way to ask questions and find lots of things out about the different organisations you can join too.

Wednesday – The morning consisted of a meeting with Occupational Health who explained the vaccination procedures and when we would be having these. In the afternoon, we enrolled! This is a very important part of the first week as this confirms you have attended the course so any bursary/student loan can be processed and paid 😊 This usually takes around 10 working days from university confirmation so try to save a little money before starting to get you through the first 2/3 weeks.

Thursday – Uniform fitting 😁 It still didn’t really feel real for me until I was trying the uniform on and I looked in the mirror. ‘Blimey, you’re actually here! You are actually going to be a student nurse’

Everyone that I have chatted to this week seems lovely and I think we are going to be a great cohort full of success stories! The actual fun starts next week when lectures begin, I am excited to start learning and revising for tests (Yes I know I’m a little bit strange 😂)

Let me know how your first weeks have been.

T x

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Hello!

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Welcome to my first blog post! I want to try and use this blog to capture my thoughts and feelings throughout my three years at university. I am so excited for the next three years but it is also the scariest thing I have ever decided to undertake.

So……a little bit about me. I am Toni and come from a little town in South Yorkshire called Doncaster. I am currently in the final weeks of an access course to enable me to gain the UCAS points needed for university applications. I applied to Derby university in June 2016 and was lucky enough to be offered a place at their Chesterfield campus, starting in March 2017. This is the last cohort able to use the NHS bursary before they are stopped in August 2017. I have three friends who applied with me and will be starting the same course at Chesterfield so we will all have a great support network already in place for when things get tough 😊

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I have around 6 years care experience which is broken into:

  • 8 months domiciliary care – supporting people in their own homes with meals, medication, shopping and personal care
  • 2.5 years in a residential care home – supporting people in the first stages of dementia with their everyday living, I was also promoted to senior carer here so had to deal with medication rounds including controlled drugs
  • 2 years in a nursing home – caring for people within the final stages of dementia, a lot were aggressive and I dealt with a lot of challenging behaviour. I was promoted to supervisor here as well, there was minimal medication work due to the presence of nurses but the role was to assist the nurse with the running of the shift and to delegate jobs to other staff members. I also experienced palliative care and developed an interest in how to make an individuals final days as comfortable and peaceful as possible
  • 1 year supporting people with learning disabilities – I assist with everyday tasks and help to to socialise with friends. This was something completely alien to me as I had no prior experience with young people and learning difficulties, and whilst I do not find it as challenging as dementia care, I thoroughly enjoy every day and sometimes it doesn’t even feel like a job!

I feel that I would like to specialise in cancer palliative care in my future career but this may change once I have completed a few placements, I could find an area that I feel I would be more suited to.

Thank you for joining me here and I hope you enjoy my journey as much as I am hoping to!

 

Love,

T x