Life Of A Student Nurse

The look you give when a Doctor states something you already know.

Life of a student nurse is something many and yet, so few can state they have lived and experienced.  In my case, I just so happen to be someone who can proudly state I have lived, experienced and breathed and slept through many of the ups and downs.  Ups and downs that are all part and parcel of being known as a college and nursing student.

If you have been following ‘Keeping Up With Scarlett’ otherwise known as Instagram or if not, I have been currently attending to many patients on my ward as I have dove head first into my placement.

I had originally thought I would be thrown into the deep end of the dark coloured water of the ocean and left to swim on my own but after discovering I have floaties attached to my arm; I have essentially carried on with the bumping road of swimming for my college degree.

For those who do not know as you have accidentally stumbled across my blog, I am a nursing student and I am current on placement for my degree.  As part of my placement, I am expected to complete 160 hours (not including lunch breaks) that will go towards me registering and completing my degree.

Having just said that, as of midnight tonight I have exactly four days left of my placement for the summer of 2015.

Before I know it, I shall be welcoming in the new year for 2016 along with the thrilling and shocking New Year’s Resolutions that I simply cannot wait to share with you.  Along with the many other factors I have been keeping a secret from you but for now, it shall remain that.

A secret!

With welcoming the New Year and New Year’s Resolutions, I shall be participating in my last placement for my degree of nursing while soaking in the much required and needed information.  All the while deciding the most hardest and lengthiest decision which is: where shall I go for post-grad year?

This of course shall be discussed at greater length no doubt come next year as I toss and turn the decision as to where I shall plant my feet for a year or for the greater good.  As I no doubt document, discuss and ask questions about the exciting and highly stressful and competitive side of nursing shall prevail as I fight against those for a graduate program come the end of 2016 when I officially graduate.

But like many before me on the journey of a lifetime, I am simply enjoying the fact I am a nursing student undertaking a life altering moment and I am living the life of one.

Tonight, I have just completed and finished an eight and a half hour shift at my disclosed location.  I can say after three weeks of placement, I am spending a few minutes down winding and enjoying the silence of not hearing BiPap machines gurgling, IV machines beeping as they have completed their job.

Although having just said that, I am not exactly hearing the sound of The Son’s of Anarchy playing softly in the background for I am hearing something completely different. What I am currently hearing go off inside the realms of my head is the sound of buzzers, but not just any type of old buzzers.  For the buzzers I am hearing are telemetry buzzers.

I know some of you will be sitting here having a good laugh or two while wondering ‘how is it possible?’ when clearly I am sitting in my lounge room and not within the white walls of a hospital.

Ah my Dearest Reader, I have the answer for you.

Spending eight hours each day introducing and reintroducing yourself, telling your patients to press their buzzers for assistance like a broken record, you fall into a certain pattern. A pattern allowing your body to gain certain knowledge as to when a patient is going to press their little button of joy, what room/bay needs you and who needs more attention than others.

In a sense, I have formed a sixth sense as to what is going to happening, what is happening and who is going to require assistance within the next 7 and a half hours.

This sixth sense has allowed me to walk to corridors of a hospital ward gaining a feeling as to who will be coming and going.  Particularly when it comes to patients who appear fine one minute and the next, I am climbing on top of them to perform CPR while ordering someone to press the emergency button.

Which is similar to an episode of Meredith or Cristina climbing on top of a patient in Grey’s Anatomy.  Except in my case I do not have Meredith or Cristina standing next to me, helping me understand where to put the guide wires for an ECG to be performed.  

Rather, I have exasperated looking doctors staring at me like I am incompetent of doing a simple ECG while they stand around transcribing what it being said or what is happening to the patient.  

For that, God help you if you put the RA (right arm) on the left leg and the LL (left leg) on the right arm because you will not only get your head ripped off but you will also get shoved out of the way.  Trust me, I have seen students being shoved to the side by a junior doctor while being screamed at because they asked for assistance to attach an ECG lead onto a patient.

In this case like a revolving door, the art of nursing and act of taking care of people/person from all walks of life never truly gets old.

I believe this to be true for I have seen so many things within the last three weeks that would make others scratch their head, tilt their nose up into the air or hurl into the closet rubbish bin.

For this purpose, I believe just for the art of nursing and taking care of someone outside of your immediate family is something that requires both talent, determination and a compassionate look on life and death.

Unfortunately like many circumstances both you and I have faced on a daily basis, I have come across those who have lacked a certain something.  Whether it be the talent and determination to pick a patient up from the floor, dust them off or offer a shoulder to a family member grieving over the loss of their family member; it has resulted in the nursing staff member to come across bitter and twisted.

Bitter and twisted to both the patient, their family member/s and fellow staff.  This of course makes you sit there and wonder out loud, “are you here for the patients or simply for the money?  If it is for the money, you need to get out of the health care industry”.

Although like many of the shit times and shit staff members you are going to encounter, there are members of the staff and within the health care industry that are simply one of a kind.

Like the woman for instance who opted to sit next to my Mother, Lois after she decided to get a little too trigger happy with the morphine and decided to overdose herself.  This woman decided or rather elected to sit bedside my Mother’s bedside for the entire duration of the night, just to make sure she was still breathing when the morning staff took over cares.

I for one have come across those who have told me within the past, present and no doubt future that I “possess a certain strength to not only carry the world on my shoulders.  But also possess an old wisdom that can be relayed back to having excellent bedside manners”.

Not that the same can be stated for some of the doctors I have across my ward.

It can be stated I have experienced a few times of being rudely and roughly shoved aside by a doctor while attending to a patient.  This of course was followed by having a hand thrusted in my face while being spoken down upon like I wasn’t allowed to think for my own nor was I of adequate status.

Like many times, I simply stood there blanking staring at the dip shit of a doctor who thought he was God and only those could address him as such (God complexion much?).  It also made me rethink about my skills when addressing patients, fellow colleagues and those when I was told I was “just a nurse” and not to attend a patient in my care.

Also it has brought awareness of how I must pick and choose my battles against those who can potentially ruin and destroy my not-so-there career as a Registered Nurse.  

For instance, this other night I decided to throw caution to the wind and stand up for myself.  Not only to protect my beliefs I hold as a person and nurse but as I was shutting down the brow beaten, robotic doctor who told me to leave my patient.  Simply for the slightly factor of my patient was dying.

It was that moment of wondering why doctors thought it was appropriate to be emotional robots, I gathered my big girl, Bridget style panties and leaped.

I didn’t step into my role but rather I leaped into the role of advocating for my patient and their family members.  I told the robotic doctor who demanded I simply stop attending to my patient and not worry about cares, I told the I was going to attend more cares to the patient until the family asked us to stop all cares.

As I stood there with my hands on my hips and an expression that made the doctor visibly flinch, I stated it was within my care and duty as a nurse to provide all comfort and cares to any patient within my care. This meant to both the patient but also the family member’s of said patient, during a time that would and can bring any strong person to their knees.

The doctor stood there looking at me as I glared at them like they had no right to order me around like a lost puppy and telling me what I could and couldn’t do.

It wasn’t until the doctor realised they weren’t going to win this battle that they spun around on their heel and I watched them walk away while hearing the sounds of hands clapping in the back of my mind.

I was about to turn around and head back to my living patients, I caught the doctor look at me again over their shoulder and a glint of admiration twinkle in their eye before watching the blank and non-emotional glaze come back over their face.

That was the day I was told the patient I had provided care too after fighting, passed away surrounded by family members.

It was also the day I discovered I had a pair of titanium steel balls sitting underneath my skirt and I was more than willing to advocate for mine and my patient’s rights to having care with emotion attached.

I also discovered in the moment, the art of nursing and taking care of someone cannot be undertaken by someone who isn’t willing to stand up to those who think they are superior because of two letters at the end of their name.

Also, the art of nursing cannot be undertaken by someone with a weak stomach and lack of personal drive and initiative.

For nursing and the act of nursing needs and requires someone who can handle the sight of a carving knife or chainsaw embedded into a patient’s head.  You need to stand there and tell them in a calm voice, “everything is going to be okay.  I need you to take slow, deep breathes for me”.

While inside you are standing there thinking as you take in the site before you, ‘how did this person survive? how the hell are they still alive and talking normally to me?’.

I have learnt from personal experience both in and off the ward, nursing needs a strong stomach.  Particularly when it comes to seeing someone’s spine through sores caused by extensive pressure being applied to one specific area.

Over the last three and a half years, not to mention the last three weeks, I have discovered how incredibly strong my stomach and subconscious is.  I mean today I was standing in the hallway and got my leg splashed in faeces.

Most people I know would stand there either in horror or start screaming.  Instead, I calmly grabbed a tuffy and wiped down my leg before carrying on with my care.

Yes in the back of my mind I was screaming and yelling in disgust but at the end of the day, the patient hadn’t moved their bowels in 3 days and today of all days it decided to open.  Just so happened to land on my leg partly but at least we didn’t have to worry.

With that, I have four days to go before I leave my placement on my disclosed ward and hospital.

As much as I sat there freaking out over the fact I had failed my online medication quiz and therefore I wouldn’t be able to calculate nor administer medications of any form; I have not only gotten over my fear of subcut injections of giving them to a patient.  But I have also administered so many pills that I dream and see all various types of medications.

At the end of the day, I admit to having seriously doubted myself and what for?

I have learnt my incredibly strong lesson of how I can walk onto a ward and automatically pick up what needs to be done, who is going to die and needs that little bit of extra help or care.  Who is going to be discharged and who I shall form that special bond with that when it comes time to them leaving, they leave going “I had this student nurse who….”

At the end of the day I have grown in so many ways that I cannot simply list them because I personally do not know what they all are.  I do know I have grown so much confident in myself as a person and student nurse that I haven’t resorted to hysterically crying in a hallway at the hospital and I have only called Lois in tears, once.

I think that is a major improvement if I may say so.

With that, thank you for continuing to support me by reading my blogs, sending messages and for simply taking the journey alongside me.  Because without you, I simply wouldn’t be able to experience the things I do on a daily basis and I wouldn’t have anyone to tell.

You are truly an amazing and most Dearest Reader.

Until next time,

Cheers xx.

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