Posts Tagged ‘nursing’


final year

September 17, 2008

Starting tomorrow at 9am through till 4pm. Wonder what’s in tomorrow’s timetable?

When I decided to give up my job two years ago to go back to full-time study and a nursing degree I’m sure there were those who wondered what the heck I was doing. But here we are, two years down the line, all exams and placements passed and with less than a year to go it still seems a little unreal and unnerving. It scares me sometimes when I think how quickly it’s all gone and the learning expected during that time.

A joy? Everything I’d hoped for? Wonderful people doing wonderful things? There have been moments … let’s see what tomorrow and thereafter brings before I come to any conclusion.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Day

July 1, 2008

It seems comedy is the Community Psychiatric Nurse’s companion and for that I’m truly grateful otherwise the time with my mentor would have been far less entertaining! My adventure today involved chasing a patient’s dog around the street trying to get it back into the house because the dog likes adventure you see and sometimes if it gets out it stays out all night and it really needs to come in because I’m going out and what will it do if it comes back and I’m not in (the patient says). Immediately I feel sorry for (a) the elderly patient because she’s getting distressed and the dog’s too fast for her (actually the dog’s too fast for me too) and (b) the dog who’ll be left wandering around all day because no-one’s home. I was thinking this could all end in tears. Probably mine if I catch it and it bites me!

From the window I spotted the slippery menace and darted back outside … a woman with a mission! But we all know what dogs are like. They wait till you’re almost beside them then run away again. I lost count of how many times it did that. The man up the road started to chase it too and the Council refuse collectors seemed to enjoy the show.

I saw the dog was running out of steam and shouted one last time. Maybe he heard the desperation in my voice because he came bounding up to me. This dog whose name had been changed recently (long story), a friendly wee thing who realised he was in for the sharp end of his owner’s tongue. With his tail between his legs he made his way into the house and I was the heroine of the day!

Back inside we heard stories about the bingo (that made me smile), going for walks, hearing aids, dial a bus, the naughty dog eating sausages, learning to read and write at 70, her auntie (who must be about a 100) and a wee trip to the seaside. Nice lady!


Monday’s Bingo

July 1, 2008

Yippee! I’ve passed and second year is still almost over!

I find it a little strange sometimes that I can get such good results. I’m sure someone is going to contact me to say there’s been a blunder, a huge mistake, a bit of a mix-up but so far it appears not so I smile. Now those who know me know that I hate boasting and am more inclined to understate my achievements than to shout about them from the rooftops. This is my way even though I wish I was different sometimes. Maybe it’s the result of a Presbyterian upbringing and the fact that praise was always hard to come by in our household or maybe it’s just a personality thing. Who knows and it’s not important. What’s important is I felt really good about myself and am pleased that the hard work is continuing to pay off. I’m sure family and friends believe that I’m taking the phrase ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ to the extreme. No? Thanks for your help and support anyway x

Then I had an odd afternoon when I dropped in on a drop-in group specifically for people recovering from mental ill-health. Nothing odd in that you might say, especially for a student nurse specialising in mental health and you’d be right. In essence it’s not odd at all. But when the bingo started I was transported to a certain scene in a certain film. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry quite frankly and left feeling a bit deflated by the whole experience even though the participants were very nice, staff extremely welcoming and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Nothing wrong with bingo you might think and, again, you’d be right. What am I getting at? I’m not really sure. I spoke to my mentor about it today and questioned the appropriateness of my reaction in a conscientious reflective student kind-of-a-way. Contrary to my thinking she understood what I meant, asking if I saw it as a step backwards instead of forwards. I’m sure that’s what I saw – something from the past – a stereotypical collection of people doing a stereotypical type thing in a stark hall absent of any warmth and I guess that shocked me slightly in 2008. I wondered if this is the best we can do?  I’m not sure what I think.

What I know is they enjoy it, it’s not about me is it, it’s about those that turn up week after week because it’s bingo. Good for them.

Enough said. Move on.



June 26, 2008

I’ve been a bit off colour this week and more than a little bored. Maybe my present fed-up-ness is the result of what seems like a rather long second year and, with only two weeks to go in placement, it’s all becoming a long, drawn out affair.   

Practice placements are always difficult no matter how good they are. This isn’t a contradiction. It’s like starting a new job every ten weeks so by the time you’re starting to settle in you find it’s time for another academic block before another placement… and the cycle begins all over again.

Overall my placement experiences have been fairly positive and I’ve learned a lot even when there appears little to learn. The patients have been great (mostly) and I’ve found most staff, especially my mentors, to be supportive. There have been a few highs and lows especially during the first placement when I found myself (several times) at the point of tears and ending up greetin in the ladies toilet wondering what the heck I was doing. Over the two years I’ve had to bite my tongue on more than a couple of occasions and turn a deaf ear to what was clearly none of my business. I have tried to remain impartial at all times and resist the temptation to get involved in any gossip. No mean feat I can tell you! Not getting drawn into staffing disputes and bitchiness has become a bit of an art and if I’m glad I’m managing to get through unscathed. It’s a mad world.

This week I’ve been wondering where the last two years have gone and can’t believe the amount of new stuff my brain has absorbed in that time.  I’ve also questioned over and over if my skills are really transferrable or is it all a myth. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me, my brain is full to the point of bursting due to new stuff going in and an over analysis of what’s already there. Maybe I just need to stop thinking for a while.

Sometimes I miss sitting at a desk where I organised, managed, arranged, problem solved and ok controlled certain things around me.  I guess I was happy knowing I was good at what I did.  But that was then. Only this week have I realised what I miss most: creativity, vision, hope and passion and I’m not really sure what to do with that knowledge except take it into a third year with me. 

So here I am, waiting for three results and hoping that tomorrow I’ll be feeling more like myself, more motivated, more engaged and more enlightened.


to be human

February 28, 2008

‘Perspectives on the Human Experience through the Arts’ is my chosen options module this semester and it’s a challenging one. This module is based on the belief that for health professionals to learn what it is to be human they need compassion and appreciation of the uniqueness of individuals. Studying the arts and humanities helps us do just that and though it may sound like the easy option in an otherwise heavy academic year or ‘time out’ to some, it isn’t. Seriously.

By exploring a range of materials, including individual pieces of work created by survivors, we are encouraged to enter into their world and by doing so recognise the things that make us human: vulnerability, individuality, personality, imagination, passion, spirit, breath …

We explore the many different experiences found in childhood through adolescence to old age and end of life issues and discuss the difficulties people face and the reasons why they do what they do in a world that has become too harsh for them to bear.

Reality shocks and not for the first time my awareness is heightened. Most of the material isn’t an easy read and with or without the compassionate heart, one cannot help but be affected.

This poem is from The Memory Bird (1996) Edited by Caroline Malone, Linda Farthing and Lorraine Marce. Published by Virago.

As I watch blood ooze from my vein
Slowly the droplets anaesthetise my brain
The screaming in my head gently subsides
Calmed and sedated, almost mesmerised.

I am losing the struggle to survive
I have to bleed to know I’m alive
The tramlines of war scar my skin
The only sign of battle within.

My life drips on to the barren floor
Tears flow in rivulets under the door
Numbness spreads right through my core
Where is my energy to fight for more?

But these are not for death but life
Do not be alarmed at the way I strive
Marks on my body are a small price to pay
For freedom from Hell and a new dawning each day.


tittle tattle

February 24, 2008

A can’t wait to tell B she was told by C that he overheard D making comment and discussing her late arrival in class (how disruptive and rude it was etc etc etc).  Things at the moment are somewhat strained between A and D therefore this news doesn’t bode well for future interaction.  Now B knows this story couldn’t possibly be true because (1) C was sitting on the far side of the room and would need to be able to hear the grass grow to hear their conversations and (2) B was sitting next to D at the time and would have heard her if she’d made such a comment.  B explains this to A who refuses to accept the explanation, choosing instead to believe C’s story because she couldn’t see him ‘making up such a thing, I mean why?’ (why indeed?).  B also can’t believe that she’s listening to this tittle tattle! 

Knowing the tension between these two people and seeing the efforts of the mischief maker (C) for what they are, B is in a bit of a pickle because she is friendly with both A and D.  Should she:

(a)  Allow A to continue to think the worst of D?

(b) Allow C to enjoy the fallout, menace that he is?

(c) Keep D in the dark … ignorance is bliss?

(d) Leave well alone, it’ll sort itself out?

To those of you who have made it this far in the story I apologise for its long-windedness BUT I’m fed up with tittle tattle!  A, B, C and D are all mature students for goodness sake who ought to know better!   

Being a listener is supposed to be a good thing, isn’t it?  Is it?  I have this friend who can, at times, be a great listener but has also developed the ability to ‘switch off’ over the years.  Wish I could sometimes, I really do!  Or I could just shout, jump up and down, throw a tantrum and tell them I’m not speaking to them EVER again!!!  Probably wouldn’t even notice!  


who’d have thought

February 12, 2008

Yesterday I began semester 4 after a three week break and I’m a little worried. I don’t feel particularly full of energy and vitality nor indeed do I feel bursting with enthusiasm, ready to tackle whatever is thrown at me next. What I feel is a quiet calm and optimism about the whole thing and while I’m thinking this is probably a much more realistic (and me) approach to be going on with, it’s still a little worrying and unnerving.

I could analyse this response to death but won’t. Suffice to say that it’s probably built on a rather successful semester 3 which I enjoyed immensely, both academically and in practice, and I find myself looking forward at last.

Optimism, belief and hope are back and they are truly welcome, believe me.

There have been times during the last eighteen months when I’ve doubted myself and my intentions especially when faced with the complexities, vulnerability and fragility of life.

Feeling ill-equipped I cared for patients who were not far from death. Sitting with them in the stillness and witnessing first hand the fear some experienced while others found peace and acceptance. Life and death questions are profound and I was very lucky to have a compassionate mentor who demonstrated what it is to care. I’ll never forget the example she set in ensuring that no-one was left to die alone.

In contrast, I laughed uncontrollably with 86 year old Lizzie (not her real name) till my face hurt as she reminisced about her Scottish country dancing days and, putting the walking frame aside, she was only too happy to demonstrate her skills to an unsuspecting audience. I’m sure, no matter where she is, that she’s entertaining those around her with random outbursts of song and dance and good humour. She was a joy even when she wasn’t having a good day.

Practice placements have not been without their difficulties and I’ve had to face many fears: challenging behaviour and feeling frightened and apprehensive because I wasn’t in control; my first time showering someone unable to move or communicate other than through sight; taking blood; suicide intervention training and hoping I may never need to use it; trying desperately to show someone I cared when the tears they shed seemed way too much for me; building relationships; questioning the integrity and professionalism of others; realising the powerlessness experienced by patients with mental illness; not believing I was up to the task; exploring those deeply held values and beliefs that make me who I am when they seemed at odds with things around me.

With eighteen months to go I’m not sure if I’ll make a good mental health nurse or not for there’s much to be done. But I’m learning.

Like you, I appreciate feeling valued and being able to make a worthwhile contribution to the world around me. It’s our right, isn’t it? I read somewhere recently that this involves two main ingredients, hope and opportunity but that hope is unsustainable without opportunity. Some of us don’t have a problem being hopeful nor do we have difficulty in identifying opportunities as they arise. Unfortunately there are those who suffer because they see neither.

Being granted permission to be part of someone’s journey, helping them discover the possibilities that can lead to recovery is undoubtedly hard work but what an amazing and rewarding thing to do.

Don’t think anyone has to convince me further. I’m in the right place. For now.


ethics now

October 30, 2007

Semester 3 and it feels like I just float (not the right word because floating suggests something tranquil which I’m not but I’m all out of words) from essay to test to exam to reflection to placement to uni and then it all begins again. Oh big long sentence!  It could be compared to the nursing process … a continuous cyclical and systematic approach except my approach, while certainly continuous, seems to be neither systematic nor methodical and there in lies the problem! 

Time to focus and move on.  This time to ethics.

Today we had lecture (4) of 6 on medical ethics. I’m fascinated and intrigued.  That is until I have to consider four fictional scenarios and write about one of them to demonstrate sound evidence of ethical rules and principles applicable to clinical practice.  Now I’m a wee bit confused.

So what does ethics mean? I read somewhere that it’s the rightness or wrongness of human actions.

If this is true then surely we all face ethical decisions on a daily basis and the consequences of those decisions.  We’ve all had to make uncomfortable decisions at times but the life and death questions don’t often come into our daily experience.

I wouldn’t call me a fence sitter. But in discussion and conversation I don’t often find it that difficult to see things from someone else’s point of view. The problem is that in the very real world of patient care there is no luxury of opting out and it’s only now that I’m beginning to realise that.


my future …

October 25, 2007

it’s all so clear now.  genius!

[From a post by Spirit Of 1976]

On Friday we’ll be having a visit from the NHS trust, begging us to take a job with them when we fail qualify in six months time.

Those about to qualify as RGNs rather than RMNs will be directed here.

I’ve had a brief look at the list of vacancies available. Here’s a sneak preview of my options.

Acute Inpatient

Our trust is currently recruiting for a Band 5 RMN who’s decided they don’t like talking to patients after all, and would rather just be an office monkey. Key skills include doing cool trick shots off the ward pool table, rolling a ciggie while simultaneously talking on the phone to the consultant, and the ability to say “I’ll be with you in a minute” without making it sound too much like a bare-faced lie. Our recent adoption of the Care Programme Approach will provide you with vast reams of paperwork to fill out, thus sparing you the horror of ever having to interact with filthy unwashed patients.

Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit

We have a vacancy for a built-like-a-brick-shithouse rugby player. Our client group will give you the unique opportunity to be a CIA agent, somebody’s dead Auntie Doris and the Voice of Lucifer simultaneously.

Elderly Mentally Infirm

Are you unencumbered by professional self-esteem? Are you happy to work in a job where RGNs will tell you that mental health nursing is “not proper nursing” and RMNs tell you that EMI nursing is “not proper mental health nursing” while both ignore the fact that you do the work of an RGN and an RMN combined? This role will also provide excellent opportunities to be covered with body fluids from every conceivable orifice. You will be required to have an in-depth knowledge of manual handling regulations, so you can flout them on a daily basis.

Community Mental Health Team

In this post, you will work with people who have stared into the very abyss of despair. People who’s lives have no meaning, and have nothing the but the hell of the past, the futility of the present, and the yawning horror of the future. Your role will be to prevent these poor, benighted souls from finally giving up completely and ending it all. These pitiful wretches are otherwise known as social workers.

As part of the selection process, you will be required to drink a cup of tea from a mug caked in thick layers of tannin and grease, in the home of somebody who hasn’t washed or tidied their house for six months, and look like you’re enjoying the tea. You may wish to demonstrate additional skills in discretely tipping the tea into a plant pot while the client is out of the room.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Our CAMHS team has a number of vacancies for dynamic individuals with a detailed knowledge of emo, goth and mosher bands. This post offers unrivalled opportunities to work with parents who want to blame their poor parenting on ADHD, and adolescents so mentally disordered that they think My Chemical Romance are actually challenging.

More experienced individuals may wish to apply for the following roles.

Aspergers Syndrome Nurse Practitioner

To apply for this post, please fill in the form leaving a margin of exactly 1.32cm around each paragraph, and attach a voluminous collection of railway timetables to the application form. The application should be delivered to the main reception desk between 2.30pm and 2.31pm, while avoiding walking on any of the cracks in the floor tiling.

Clinical Nurse Specialist in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

To apply, please complete a

Drug and Alcohol Services

Our drugs and alcohol team requires an RMN with an extensive collection of psychedelia, reggae and stoner rock CDs. Dress code requires staff to dress in tie-dye, kaftan and beads, like a STINKING DIRTY HIPPY! I mean honestly, the 60s were over 37 years ago! Have you really not got over it yet, you filthy hippy? Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix are dead! Got that? Dead! Hippy! Car driver required


It’s not easy …

September 13, 2007

Ever think that?  That it’s not easy being you?  Too many things to do and think about that you’re certain your head will explode in the next five seconds!?  Never enough time to cram it all in?  Running around, getting stressed and worrying? 

I’ve found the last five weeks in study hard going.  Tired and sluggish one day and excited and motivated the next (eh?).  There seems to be no set pattern nor indeed any real cause.  It’s just the way of it.  But it needs to stop and I need to take control in an assertive fashion!

Stewart is disorganised but learning to be organised.  I’m a worrier but need to learn NOT to be so I’m working on it!  Still think there’s more chance of me becoming ‘laid back’ than him being organised mind you!  (obviously kidding!) 

Here I am, it’s Thursday afternoon and I have a long weekend ahead … have decided to take the opportunity and relax for a few days.  Gather myself together a bit in preparation for the new placement beginning on Monday for five weeks.  How do I feel?  Oh, the usual: bit tired; bit anxious; bit worried; bit positive; bit excited!

Ah life.  Bit of a rollercoaster ride really!

Time for coffee or maybe I should avoid caffeine or is that ok as long as I don’t have something chocolately …