Posts Tagged ‘placement’



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.


a new semester

March 21, 2008

Already one assignment is more or less complete and ready for submission, one is currently being worked on as we speak and the other two are simmering away nicely. It all sounds very calm and organised and I guess it is. Perhaps I’m finally getting into the swing of it or maybe I’m less anxious so dealing with it all better or could it be that I’m just having a good couple of weeks and it’ll all buckle under the strain of time restrictions and dreaded deadlines. Who knows. 

This week I began a new placement and have been out on some visits. My mentor seems nice, good at her job so lots I can learn and the team is friendly and welcoming. Full of stories: successful ones; funny ones; sad ones; poignant ones; frustrating ones; not so nice ones. I guess that’s the business of mental health. If I was naïve before beginning my training, I am no longer.

Looking forward to the next nine weeks.


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.


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 …


Palliative Care

April 13, 2007

“Palliative care is the active, total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment …” (WHO, 1990).

As part of my Family and Health placement I, along with another twenty nursing students, attended a talk on palliative care at The Haven in Blantyre today.  I found a very special, peaceful, hopeful place where people find support in helping them face life limiting illnesses that affect them such as cancer, MS, motor neurone disease and HIV/AIDS. 

At The Haven staff and volunteers strive to give the highest possible care that includes access to a specialist nurse advisory service, counselling, complementary therapies, child support service including bereavement support, physiotherapy (for MS client) and advice concerning hair loss through HeadStrong at Breast Cancer Care

After the presentation and tour I got the chance to talk to a a couple of the visitors over a cup of coffee.  We had a laugh while one told me about her experiences with student nurses trying to take blood and her ending up like a pin cushion.  You get used to it she said.

The Haven celebrates its fifth birthday this year and much has been accomplished in that time.  As with many charitable organisations it is highly dependent on volunteers to help with the ongoing work.  They are not only a valuable asset, they are the backbone.  The specialist nurse I spoke to today told me they simply couldn’t operate without them.  I admire greatly those who are willing to give of themselves and act at a local level in response to the needs of those around them.

The Haven believes it is the right for all patients to receive good palliative care.  It is their aim to provide support from diagnosis to the final stages for patients and families.

We discussed hospice care and how it is unfortunate that in 2007 many terminally ill people still fail to receive specialist intevention and continue to die in the corners of general wards or side rooms in hospitals where nurses are too busy and don’t have the specialist training but try their best anyway.  Sadly this is the experience of many patients and families.  I know, I was one of them.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die … ” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)


The real world …

March 27, 2007

I was lucky to spend time in a special needs primary school yesterday as part of my latest placement.  This experience would be very hands on and I was a little nervous.  The head teacher informed me that I would be working with a small group of children, seven in all, most of them unable to communicate verbally.  

When I arrived in class the children were already gathered in a circle accompanied by a few classroom assistants.  They were singing their ‘good morning’ song.  A seat had been left for me and the teacher signalled for me to join them.  After I’d taken my seat one of the children introduced me in his own unique fashion (I found out as the day went on what a character he is!).  I could do nothing but smile at being given such a warm welcome.  

I was amazed that my day passed so quickly and had been such fun!  Story time and role play; a lazy ladybird and pretend sleeping; a bouncy kangaroo and roaring tiger; time in soft play; massage; messy hands and faces at lunchtime; lights and a bubble machine and colours and noisy things; counting the birds as we walked to the shops.   The children had bowled me over with their affecton, happiness and curiosity.  Suddenly my own anxieties and stresses made no sense in this very open, real and loving world.

At home time we gathered in a circle again and the teacher sang ‘Celebrate’ as the children clapped in time.  A Christian song was the last thing I was expecting and I was happy to join in, smiling in God’s presence.  Then it was time for the ‘goodbye see you tomorrow’ song that gave me a lump in my throat.  

The teacher shared something I’m unlikely to forget … each child here has his or her own way of communicating … watch out for a light touch or look that happens in an instant … catch it or it will be lost forever.

God got my attention yesterday.

He speaks to us in whispers of love and frequently uses those who appear the weakest and most vulnerable.