OK then, to start off tell us what country/area you live in, how long you have been nursing for, what areas you have worked in and the specialty you currently work in.
Hello there, my name’s Tom. I live in the wonderous Oxford, glimmering spires and all that jazz. I’m a first year nursing student, although I’m not exactly new to nursing in the way that some in their first year of their training are. My first step into nursing was working as a health care assistant (auxilliary nurse/orderly/jack of all trades/spare set of hands) in a trauma and orthopaedic unit. My placements up to this point in my training have covered acute general medicine and neurosciences. Ideally I want to work in A&E at the end of my three years. That said, if I should find something that leaves a greater impression upon me then that is where I shall go.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
That’s a question you could ask me three times a day and get three totally different answers. There’s no one specific, cast iron reason that I can pin my choice of vocation to. I have spent most of my twenty one years under the care of diabetes specialist nurses which probably has some bearing upon the matter but it isn’t the main thing. I suppose ultimately I wanted to do something which made a real and tangible impact. I am very much a people person and I adore working with people so, after trying my hand at a different degree and the subsequent dropping out I chose nursing. It may be a bit of a cliche but I suppose I enjoy making that little bit of difference to a someone.
Did you find your training prepared you for what actually goes on at the bedside? What sort of things really opened your eyes when you first began working ‘on the floor’?
Well, given that my training is on going and I am only a first year I can’t say too much about it. Given that I’ve worked on a ward before I have a good idea of what is going on in a ward environment and much of my bedside manner has already been formed, if ever evolving to suit the situation and area I find myself in. Prior to my first placement we had practical skills training sessions which covered the essentials of nursing but were really learned on the wards. You can only take on so much in the class room and the best way to learn is getting stuck right in. Your training is very much what you make it. The opportunities are there and more fool you if you choose not to take the damn things when you can.
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your book of shifts.
This is from my first placement, on a very busy acute medical ward. We had a terminally ill cancer patient admitted to our ward and along with my mentor, took over his care one shift. I was obliged to put him in the well, unpleasant, hospital issue pyjamas until his family could bring the patient in some of his own. The patient was frequently incontinent and required much changing. His relatives were grateful for the way that I would keep him as comfortable as I could and kept him in his own clothing. This was much to the chagrin of my mentor for that shift who said I should have put him in a gown with incontinence pads to make my life a little bit easier. I’ll be damned if I’m going to make my life easier if what I am going to do will have an impact upon how someone spends their last few days. It later transpired that the patient sadly passed away a few days after admission. His family sent a card thanking the ward for our care. On the side they had left a little note “Tom, keep it up, you were fantastic.” That really touched me and it still does as I have a photocopy of that card for my portfolio. It is so very rewarding that I had a positive effect upon that patient and their relatives.
Not just a nurse: what about when you are not at work? What do you get up to in the rest of your life?
So not just a nurse… Yes, I have to admit that what I have chosen to become does spill into most aspects of my life. That said, I am not just a nurse, albeit a student nurse. When I’m not working up a sweat in my hideous polycotton white tunic I do many things. I am very much an armchair sportsman. I love watching rugby (union – nothing else will suffice) and sampling the many fine beers that the brewers of Oxfordshire have to offer up to my palate. I am a voracious reader and will read anything. I also have something of a love of listening to music. I can often be found on another planet whilst listening to Pink Floyd and others such as Iron Maiden.
Piss and Vinegar: name 3 things that really get under your skin, push your buttons, or generally irritate you at work or outside of work.
Things that irritate me… I could spend all day on this. Number one is poor communication from doctors. If you can snag me and tell me what you’ve just seen my patient about and what, if any, changes are to be made to their care I’d really love to know about it. If you can’t find me then leave a message with one of my colleagues. I am not issued with a crystal ball as well as a uniform. Number two is incompetence/ignorance, need I say more? We’ve all seen or will see our fair share of this. Number three is the severe case of arse glued to chair syndrome that many senior nurses develop when they have been promoted to the oxygen scarce heights of being a sister or charge nurse. Yes you may be given that responsibility because you are a good nurse. However, if you don’t separate your arse from your chair, prove that you are a good and capable nurse whilst leading by example then you lose my respect.
You’re meant to the gold standard for which we should all aim. Leadership is a case of “do as I do, not as I say”. Earning that position was not a sprint, you have to carry on putting in the effort and detatch yourself from the desk.
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the nurses or general public out there.
I apologise for the photo, it’s one of the more recent ones of myself that are fit for public consumption. It’s from when we were issued with our uniforms and all rushed home to try the bloody things on. I promise you they don’t look quite as good a few months on!