*Book Review* Being a nurse by Lauren Philpott

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*DISCLAIMER* This book was gifted for me to review, I have previously worked with the publishers before which you can see here and here.

Lauren is a children’s nurse who qualified in 2014. Lauren runs a blog called Graduation to Revalidation which talks about how to survive your first 3 years as a qualified nurse and you can find her on twitter at @grad2revalnurse. Lauren wrote the book after looking for other books which described the way newly qualified nurses feel and finding there were none available.

Lauren writes in a way that is like talking to a friend or mentor, making you feel comfortable and supported. The book contains sections on how to cope with a bad day and first day nerves. As a third year student nurse, I worry about first day nerves especially as I am going to work in a trust that I haven’t had a placement in and this section of the book really resonated with me as I’m sure it will other third year student nurses.

The book is written in an informative way without using jargon and confusing language, containing hints and tips from Lauren herself on each section. My favourite section is how you know when you’re ready to progress, I have a career plan which I would like to stick to and this section was really interesting to read.

This is a book that would be good for all student nurses to read, especially third years who are close to qualifying or newly qualified nurses!

Love,

T x

*Book Review* Leadership for Nursing, Health and Social Care Students

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DISCLAIMER: This book was gifted to me to review. I have previously reviewed other books from the same publishers, which you can read here and here.

 

Beginning year 3 was daunting for me, especially after talking to my mentor on my last placement of year 2 about developing my leadership skills ready for my management placement in the second half of year 3. I really looked forward to reading and reviewing this textbook as I wanted to see if I could gain some tips that would aid my leadership and delegation skills going through year 3. The book itself is part of a new series of books called Essentials and aims to provide an insight into the world of leadership.

The book has a number of chapters, all focusing on different areas regarding leadership. One chapter focuses on theories of leadership, with the next chapter focusing on the skills and qualities needed to be an effective leader.

 

In chapter one, the authors discuss what leadership is and why it is so important in health and social care. I find this chapter a good insight into what the whole book will discuss and would be useful to use in any leadership or management module as well.

Throughout the book, there are scenarios which allow you to explore your own thoughts and ideas around leadership and how you would approach different situations within practice.

At the end of the book, there are full references used within the book which students may find useful for further reading and as sources of information for leadership modules at university.

In chapter 7, the history of healthcare and social care within the UK is discussed. I found this chapter really interesting to see how healthcare has changed and developed over time. The chapter also describes why having knowledge of government policy is important in today’s healthcare environment and I would suggest this is a must-read section for any student nurse, especially third years preparing to qualify and take their first newly qualified post.

The learning outcomes before each chapter are recapped at the end, which allows anyone reading the book to utilise each chapter and ensure they have understood the information contained within the chapter. I believe this book will help me to develop my leadership skills and give me a background knowledge on how leadership can be influenced by other factors and the skills needed to be an effective leader within my own career, which I feel every student reading this book would benefit from.

The book is written in an easy-to-read way, whilst containing a good amount of knowledge and information for students in any year of a degree course.

Love,

T x

Nursing isn’t all about grades…

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‘Your grades do not define the kind of nurse you are’ and ‘You do not need a first class degree to be a good nurse’ are some of the things I see on twitter on a day-to-day basis.

You know what? They are correct.

Grades do not define the kind of nurse you are out in practice, in fact some people are very open about ‘struggling’ academically but thriving out on placement. We all have our strengths. You also do not need a first class degree to be a nurse, completing the degree is what ultimately matters not the classification.

BUT….here is where I harp on about my own opinion on this subject.

I often hear ‘you cannot be good academically and out on placement’. WRONG. You can be good at both, without blowing my own trumpet I am reasonably strong academically and receive fantastic feedback on placement, something which is similar with many student nurses I know. People need to stop pushing this narrative where you have to be good at one or the other. You can be both, please stop saying that people who are good academically make rubbish nurses. And yes I have seen this more than once. It is simply not true.

Grades do not define you as a nurse. BUT there is no shame in owning the fact that you want to achieve a first class degree. If you want this and you know that you are capable of it, do not let anyone shame you into thinking you should not be talking openly about this. For those of us who already have a future career plan mapped out, it is important for us to achieve the highest degree classification we can, just as I’m sure it’s important to many others. I will not be made to feel embarrassed about admitting this because I will have worked hard to gain whatever classification I receive. We should all be striving to achieve the best that we can do, not just aiming for 40% ‘as long as we pass’.

People all have different academic levels, I can write a good essay but that doesn’t mean that I am more intelligent or better than another student nurse. I often feel ‘inferior’ in lessons because there are members of my cohort who know more about the clinical side than I do, based purely on our different placement experiences. Someone may know lots about respiratory conditions, having spent 13 weeks on there. I know very little because my placements have not included that experience…however, give me a cardiac situation and I’ll be on it. We shouldn’t feel inferior to our other student nurse colleagues just because they received a ‘better’ grade or know more about a condition than we do, we should be sharing our knowledge and experiences with each other. Acknowledging each other’s strengths and pushing each other kicking and screaming to the end 😂

We shouldn’t be knocking people down who have a plan in mind and are honest about this. We should be supporting everyone around us, regardless of end goal or future plans.

Nursing isn’t defined by grades…but that won’t stop me being here striving for that first class honours degree 👍

Love,

T x

How to survive long shifts on placement

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Comfortable shoes – this would probably be my number 1 tip for placement! Most ward shifts will be 12+ hours and there is nothing worse than sore feet when you’re on shift. I have Clarks Unloops and find them to be very comfortable, I wear them for placement and 14 hour shifts at my care home job and my feet are always fine. Some people don’t like Unloops, it’s just about finding what shoes work for you. Others recommend Sketchers Go Walks.

Compression socks – standing up for most of a 12+ hour shift can cause achy calves and lower legs, wearing compression socks can really help to avoid this.

Plenty of water – keep a water bottle close by if you are able to do so. Some wards allow water bottles at the nurses station or in a cupboard out of sight. If you are not able to do so, you are allowed to use quiet times to quickly nip for a drink of water. It’s important to keep hydrated especially on long shifts.

A good nights sleep – this helps concentration and also helps you to feel ready for the day. Try to get an early night before a placement shift.

A good breakfast – being hungry doesn’t help concentration or mood (I find this anyway 😂). Try to have something filling such as porridge or toast, this will keep you going until you go on your first break.

Ask your mentor for 5 minutes if you need them, especially on your first placement your mentor will be understanding if you haven’t done long shifts before.

Prepare uniform, bag etc the night before to stop morning stress – you don’t want to be rushing around in the morning getting all your things together and running the risk of forgetting something, prepare your things the night before and you can take your time getting ready in the morning without the stress.

Baby wipes and deodorant – you can use these on your break to freshen up and wipe your face on a night shift if you are feeling tired. Wards can be warm and having deodorant in your bag can be useful for freshening up as well.

You do adjust quickly – after a few long shifts, your body will start to adjust to them and you will start to find them easier.

Don’t over-rely on caffeine – this applies more to night shifts. It can be easier to think that drinking caffeine all night will make it easier to stay awake, this is often not the case. You can ‘crash’ and feel more tired , try to keep hydrated with water and stop drinking caffeine around 4am to help you get to sleep when you get home.

Speak to your mentor if you are struggling – if you are finding the shifts difficult or struggling to cope with 2 or 3 in a row, talk to your mentor. They can split your shifts up (where possible) or possibly spilt a shift so you can do 2 1/2 shifts instead of long days all week. Most mentors will be understanding, especially if it’s your first placement and you are not used to doing long shifts. Ward shifts do tend to be 12+ hours but you do have plenty of placement time to adjust to them.

A long, relaxing bath – I find there is nothing better after a long shift than a red-hot bath with plenty of bubbles and a face mask! This might not work for everyone but find the one thing that helps you to unwind after a long shift.

Mints/chewing gum – I always keep these in my pocket just to freshen my breath after a break (not recommending that you chew gum on placement, just to freshen your breath and then dispose before returning from break). You can even take your toothbrush and toothpaste!

Utilising quiet time – I know this may be rare on some placements, but if you do get a quiet hour in an afternoon use the time wisely. I like to get the BNF out and make notes on common medications used in that placement area, or speak to a patient with a condition you don’t know much information about – patients will often be very knowledgeable about conditions they have managed for years.

Let me know if you have any other good tips!

Love,

T x