Night shifts are an inevitable part of life as an ICU nurse and I find it so hard to figure out how to eat. I want to make sure I'm being healthy, but also happy, full and energised my shifts. A few colleagues bring breakfast type foods, and others bring large dinners, but I don't really feel like either. Sometimes I crave carbs, or chocolate or fruit, so I try to bring a selection of snacks, some healthy and others treats to allow for any night time cravings. I've got some ideas of things I've taken on night shifts I've done..
Marmite sandwiches, blueberries, grapes & cherries, spinach, carrot and cucumber, belvita bar, freddo, haribo, yougurt covered rice cakes.
Fruit tea, crumpet with butter & marmite, yogurt, cheese string, apple, smores goldfish
Belvita bar, crisps, satsuma, cucumber, carrot and hummus
Marmite sandwiches, pepper, spinach & carrot, hummus, nutella sticks, tomatoes & blueberries, belvita bar, apple, crisps
Apple, satuma, crumpet with butter & marmite, yogurt rice cakes, cheese string
These are just a few ideas, I'm still trying to create snacks and meals to keep me at my best for night shifts, would love suggestions! For more meal prep ideas, follow my instagram
Along with trying to understand peoples handwriting - unless you are one of the cool places that does things electronically - you also have to learn all these abbreviations. Every shift for a little while now, I've gone through notes and folders to see what the common abbreviations are for a paeds ICU. I will probably be making these posts again and again as I discover more!
I always thought that an intensive care unit might be what I would enjoy, and as a student nurse, I loved my PIC placement! But actually once I started as an actual real nurse on a PIC unit, I blooming hated it. It was big, scary, so many machines and people I didn't know. But I stuck it out, and can now see those reasons why I chose it, and why I persevered.
I remember being on placement at this PICU, and being in awe of my mentors and the nurses around me; their knowledge was out of this world, and I found it so inspiring. I would call my mum after every shift and tell her that I wanted to be that clever one day. It felt like knowledge of everything, anatomy, conditions, machines and emergency situations and I still dream to be like my old mentors.
When I worked on a ward and would have 4 or 5 patients (I know its a lot more for adult nurses, don't know how they do it!), I would just feel nervous leaving them alone. I liked seeing them, knowing what they were doing and what their observations were like. But with that many, you have to leave to check on the others. I was just constantly walking around haha. On a general ward, they didn't actually need watching all the time, but it just made me feel better. Thus on PIC, you do hang out with your patient alllll the time, so any little thing that changes, you know about it. I love it. You know everything, all the ins and outs of that one patient, and you've got it under control. Or ya hope.
I feel that people on an intensive care unit are all pretty motivated to get better and learn better ways to get things done (definitely not saying ward nurses aren't the same, but I know PIC nurses). I go to work, and become motivated from the staff around me to make sure our kids get the best care possible.
The Ones That Get Better
It is an incredible feeling seeing our patients leave to go to one of the wards after being so poorly a couple of days before. Sometimes you can't wrap your head around it but kids are just so resilient.
Although it's been a few years since I was a student nurse, I can vividly remember all my placements. I can remember being so nervous on the first day, feeling like a bit of a lemon trying to find my mentor, and sitting with patients chatting about life. In my first year I had 3 placements, 2 that I loved and 1 that I kinda disliked, but I learnt important lessons from each of them.
*All placements are paediatric specialties, I did no training or placements with adults.
Placement 1: I started off in an oncology and infectious diseases ward, and I looooooved it! After intensive care, oncology is where I would go, probably because of this placements. I remember my first ever day, my mentor had to nip out somewhere so put me with this newly qualified nurse, and it was her first shift in the numbers (kinda mean giving her a student too but she was good!). She showed me how to do all the basic ward observations, and I was so excited to do them by myself at the end of the shift. There were so many nurses there that I looked at and just dreamt of being as good as they were. I can remember being taught how to make a hospital bed, turning the corners properly. It was just such a nice place to start off my nursing life. I remember having a day off in the middle of 2 long days, and I was so sad to be at home, I just itched to be back learning something. Although oncology came with its sadness, and I felt my first death of a patient I had helped look after.
Placement 2: This was the one I didn't enjoy as much, purely because of my mentors. It was a general medical ward, and I actually loved the nursing side of things, I was starting to take my own patients and I remember parents teaching me so much about newborn babies and how to care for them. I spent more time with the patients than my mentors, and I think that gave me a love of people and just talking with them while there's not much else to do on a ward like that. My mentors weren't as chatty, and kinda ignored me a bit. I was a shy student, and didn't really talk up as much, I followed and asked nursing questions, but wasn't overly confident. I think of this placement every time I have students, I don't want to be a mentor like that, I want to be happy, open and encouraging.
Placement 3: Neuro and surgical ward, a very large and super busy ward. But man did I love neuro by the end of it, I could've worked there. The junior sister was so inspiring, she was constantly learning, she would want us to teach her things from university and so polite with every colleague, patient and family member. This placement started me thinking of intensive care though, I remember having a patient who had been in a car accident and was now brain injured because of it, they had been in intensive care for weeks before coming to the ward, and I was constantly wondering what those few weeks would've been like, how poorly were they when they first came in. I spent a lot of time with this patient, and another similar aged boy also in a car accident. When their families weren't there, I felt the need to sit with them, whether they knew I was there or not.
It's so weird to think back to being that student nurse, I've changed so much since then, and sometimes it's a bit cringey but I guess I have to embrace it. I wouldn't be where I am now without going through those amazing and horrible times. If you're about to embark on your nursing school life, don't be afraid of placement, seek out the nice nurses and ignore any of the rude ones. They make you better in the long run.