Thursday, 23 August 2012

Placement Perils

I recently completed my end-of-first-year, two and a half month placement, and you may recall from the unapologetic outpouring of my last post that I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Enjoyment and enlightenment aside however, by the end of those seemingly never-ending ten weeks I was more than ready for some much-needed R&R.

I have had three placements to date, and it seems to me that no matter how many placements you have under your belt, or where you are in your training, it’s always a struggle trying to maintain some semblance of physical and mental stability whilst out in practice. So with this in mind, I’ve decided to make a shortlist of some of the regular pitfalls I encounter on a placement-to-placement basis. In no particular order, here are my top six.

  • Healing hands?! - Whilst I like to think that my red, flaky, tired-looking hands are testament to my well-developed and effective hand-washing technique, it would be nice if they didn’t look ten years older than the rest of me! As the lovely Sarah Morbey once advised, having a small tube of hand cream on you at all times is a must!
  • Sleepless in Studentnurseville - Random shift patterns combined with frequent periods of insomnia leads to a semi-permanent state of sleep deprivation, as well as an uncanny likeness to an extra from The Walking Dead!
  • Excessive caffeine consumption - I love coffee, but the effects of my aforementioned sleep deficits often call for something stronger, and before I know it I’ve gone though two packs of ProPlus in a week - NOT something I recommend. Fortunately I learned my lesson during my last placement where I earned the nickname Taz, and have swapped the tachycardia-inducing tabs for a much-healthier morning bowl of museli instead.
  • Thirst aid - Most healthcare professionals struggle with drinking enough whilst on shift, yet we manage perfectly well when it comes to monitoring and maintaining the fluid balance of our patients. It’s not uncommon for me to finish a shift suffering with a belting headache, and convinced that I have the beginnings of what must be a UTI.
  • Thank-you treats - I’d be lying if I said my healthyish lifestyle doesn’t take a bit of a battering whilst I’m on placement, and the constant provision of biscuits and choccies combined with few and far between gym visits pretty much ensures that I’ll finish placement at least two pounds heavier than when I started. It’s a hard life!
  • Illness - There reaches a point on every placement when the combination of all of the above leaves me feeling weary and rundown, and prone to picking up a head cold or two along the way. Fortunately these are usually fleeting and I’m back to being nursing fit within only a few days.

Two weeks into my annual leave and 5am get-ups and endless uniform-ironing stints are but a distant memory, no sooner will I be back at university and into my usual uni routine than it will be time to go back out into practice and do it all over again, and I'm too happy to oblige.


  1. Its lovely to here your first long placement be so positive for you- I'm counting down the hours until mine is over and done with! ;-)

  2. It's not my first long placement so at least I knew what to expect this time, not that it helped!

    I know that feeling. Have you enjoyed it though?

  3. I just discovered your blog via twitter. I do the social media and online stuff for the maternal health charity Life for African Mothers.

    I really like your blog. I have been qualified for over 6 years now and wish I had done something like this. What really surprised me is the encouraging and positive things I have read on some of your posts. I'm so pleased you enjoyed your first year. Keep at it year 2 is a tough one and year 3 is the 'I'm so close year!'

    I love your other blog recommendations and I think other students will really benefit from your blog.

    Keep up the great work and well done for finding the time to do it.

    @sarahgev @Life4AM

    1. Thanks for the lovely feedback, Sarah :) It's always nice to know that people both enjoy and find the blog useful - plus it spurs me on to do more and I sometimes need a kick up the you know what!

      I decided from the start that I didn't want to focus too much on any negative aspects; everyone's experience is unique and subjective, so my experience and feelings would not be true for most people.

      I've had a look at your website, and I think it's wonderful what you're involved in. I've linked to the site, and will be making a donation as soon as my bursary comes through next month.

      Good luck with everything and let me know if there's anything I can do to help.