Well here we are, we have come to the end of my first year. I have a mixed bag of emotions going on, of happiness, excited and sadness. The first year has been so jam packed, non stop, full of fun, laughter and tears. Let’s have an overview of my whole year… brace yourselves….
At the start I had the confusion of when my start date was which initially made me feel on edge of what was to come from the university itself. I had missed my induction week and all the goodies that came with it, I had missed making friends, I panicked that everyone was well ahead of me and had already formed their groups. I went into slight panic mode at the start. My first day, first lecture and I sat on my own, like a little mouse with it’s cheese in a corner. There was so many people! I was so nervous, I didn’t know where to look, where to go for break etc. Everything was so daunting. But boy did everything change… I was quite fortunate that during a break, one of the girls came and asked if I wanted to sit with them! Yay I had friends! Which I then followed around for the rest of the year haha. But we have all became good friends 🙂
During my first half of the year, the lectures weren’t sinking in at all, I found myself getting home and wondering what I had just learnt. I think the whole getting used to university, finding your rooms, making friends, it is all quite scary at the start so your mind is elsewhere. Some lecturers were fantastic and funny, made the lessons so interesting which really helps! Then my first placement came along, I had a mini melt down the night before my shift due to overthinking it all. My first placement gave me a lot of experience with surgical wards. I saw the basic routine of wards, the layout, the multi-disiplinary team, the different bands in nursing, putting my wound management skills to use, professional values all played a huge role in the care I gave to my patients so I was putting my theory into practice. I also sadly learnt how communcation changes between staff and patients when there is a barrier at play (which I did a whole blog on and something I’d like to correct at some point, make a change somehow).
Then there came a turning point, a turning point for me personally but I think a few others in my group also. We had a half way point, a motivation day / comedian was booked out for us by Robert Mapp. This was a fantastic day, and for me, it really DID motivate me. Something the comedian said:
‘Do you want to get to the end of your 3 years and regret not doing enough, not making the most of every second at university?”
This REALLY stuck with me. It made me reflect back on the first half of the year and wonder what had I done to make the most of this? Nothing… I hadn’t done anything other than panic about who to talk to, how I will pass my assignment etc… So I decided to something about it, I wanted to be part of the university and students as much as possible. I wanted to conquer my fears head on! I want to come out of univeristy a changed woman and a better nurse. I want to be able to speak in public without going red with embarrassment. I started this off by signing up to the RCN as a student information officer. I put myself forward to do the stall at university and pushed myself to talk to students. The next step I took was doing the students talk with Robert Mapp and other students. I stood in front of a whole group of the new first year students and talked to them about university and what to expect and where to go if they needed help. I did this twice in a week, the first one was initially scary and I felt terrified but the second talk went really well and I had fun doing it. This was one of the biggest accomplishments for me. The next step I took was signing up to be a student academic leader for the student union, I have only just recently signed up and I will be looking to help students where I can. I have a few more things in the pipe line but that’s for another blog at a later date 🙂
Second half of university, I REALLY enjoyed to the fullest. I feel I have really improved academically and growing into the person I want to be for myself and for my patients. The module was my favourite so far (Nursing Practice and Health in Society), not to say I disliked the other modules, I did, I enjoyed it all. But these modules for me, I had fun with. I enjoyed revising, I enjoyed writing my assignment as it was something I loved. I went from getting 55% on my first assignment to getting 75% on my last assignment! I smashed my goals. Everything has started to sink in, make sense and link together beautifully. Luckily my last placement of the year was the stroke ward, and this was part of my module, so it all made sense and I learnt so much from it. As much as I am not keen on ward work (personal preference, and I feel so guilty for saying it, my heart is in the community) I enjoyed this ward, the nurses all came together as a team, it gave me faith that there are nurses out there that genuinely care about patients and working in the NHS still. It was such a busy ward, staff sickness, people on holiday etc, bank staff were called in, nurses were struggling, but they kept smiling, they gave the patients the best care possible with what they had. It was great to see that the ward manager and sister both came out to help wash and dress patients during the tough times. Lovely ward for any student to be on. Despite my dislike for ward work, not one person would ever guess this. I never have and will never show this. I have always given my 100% maximum in everything I do. When I have spoken to staff about not wanting to work on the ward when I qualify, I’d like to go into community based care, they have been so surprised by this. One HCA told me I looked like I really loved working the wards and how good I was, this is a bonus! I would never let my personal feelings ever affect the care of my patients. I am there for the patients and no one else. Now I have finished and passed my last placement, I am a little sad. Mainly because there were long stay patients that I adored, I adored caring for, I got used to them, I got to know them and they got to know me, we had laughs and I hope I made their stay that little bit better with the care I gave to them. I’m sad because I won’t see them again. I will never know what happened to those patients, where they went afterwards or if they are doing well still. Some patients will stay with me for life. I was blessed to have had the time to care for them.
So for the next couple of months I shall be working bank shifts to get my money in ready for second year and completing the CAP week work for the university. I shall be going over all of my notes, slides and medication guidelines, to keep my memory fresh for second year. But I shall also be taking some days off to recharge my batteries and relax. Which is much needed after the hard work of this first year. For now, it’s time to put away the white tunic… until next time.