I remember being a student nurse so vividly, it was only a few years ago but feels like a lifetime. On placement we would get asked what we wanted to get out of our time there, either the weeks we would spend there or just the next few hours. I never knew what to say, I was wanted to learn anything and everything. In hindsight, and now as a mentor, I can see how that’s a bit frustrating. If I had a student who wanted to do physical things, I’d be getting right on it to find it for them, plan our shift and see if we’re going to be doing it etc. It’s hard to know what you can do on a shift on a unit you don’t know much about, so I’ve started writing things down that students can observe and do on a paediatric intensive care unit.
These are all the ones I can think of at the moment, but I’m going to keep a log for any future thoughts I have and I’ll update it ☺️💕
It’s not a secret that when I started on intensive care I had a real dip in life, all relating to being a nurse and being at work. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, scared as to what patient I’d be allocated and how I would cope with the shift. I’d cry at home, and the whole journey there, wait outside the building until I could calm down and then go in. The nervousness of being responsible for a very poorly child was so overwhelming. These children are the whole world to their families, and I was responsible for them for 13 hours, it’s not something you can take lightly, and I still don’t, the thoughts would drown me and I hated coming into work. We’re also a very large unit, and there’s nurses everywhere, I felt like a small spec in this large ocean and whoever didn’t survive just slipped away. People would tell me that it got better, you just have to stick through the first few months but I didn’t believe them, I thought I was built for intensive care, not strong enough.
Fast forward 6 months and I slowly began to feel a little happier, a little more knowledgable about the basic things and didn’t cry as much (there are definitely still tears now though, it’s a tough job!). I want to share things that I did to help, to help anybody out there going through those feelings of dread at a shift, whether it’s a new job or a tough time in your current job, we’re all just in this together really.
⭐️ Talk: I didn’t tell anybody for quite a while at work how anxious I was coming into a shift, I just thought it didn’t matter, there were enough problems for the unit, I was a new nurse who could easily go somewhere else. But I started to chat to people I felt comfortable with, and they brought it up with some of the team leaders and then my nurse manager was made aware. She came in with one of the education team members, sat me down and asked how I was, and I cried. We chatted through things that made me most anxious, and I mentioned that being in a cubicle with a sick patient and being given an oscillator were top of my lists and they said that was fine, and for the following months o wasn’t given either. I appreciated it beyond belief, I wasn’t panicking about cubicles and knew I wouldn’t be given an oscillator. And then my nurse manager was on shift when I did have my first oscillator, she said she made sure it was open on the unit, they were pretty stable and there was a lot of support around. So thankful.
⭐️ Music: Cannot stress enough, get a playlist! I have one on my iPod specifically for when I get nervous on the way to work. Calming, motivational and builds me up. Whatever it is you need.
⭐️ Home: I know when your so anxious and nervous and think about work, you don’t want to do much else. I just wanted to distract myself with YouTube and things. But I would feel happier on shift if my house was tidy and organised, my bag was packed, uniform ironed and I was showered and ready.
⭐️ Food: Good food is for the soul. I promise you. Eat those fruit and veggies, and make sure to indulge once in a while. I tell myself I’ll be a better nurse if I fill my body with goodness, more brain food. But on those days off, I still make cookies, all the moderation.
⭐️ Days Off: I used to lie in bed until midday on my days off, do a few things and then bam, it’s evening time and I would be getting ready for work again. I liked it at the time, but at the end of the day I felt wasted. I wanted to do more with my life and I knew it had to change. I made a goal to get out of bed within 30 mins of waking up and I’ve loved it! I can still scroll through Instagram but I’m not there for hours. I write to do lists for my days off but I make sure to include loungey things too, having a bath or laying in the sun.
Any kind of nursing is hard and tough and we have those days where we wonder why we chose this job. But finding a life/work balance and supporting our mental health is so vital. Love to you all!
Being a nurse now for 3 years, and on ICU for 2, I see loads of things that I’ve learnt since being qualified. You learn a different set of skills once you’re actually the nurse taking responsibility for things. I remember being a student and praying for the day I was a qualified nurse, but sometimes now I think the student days were so dreamy. To help get the most out of those student shifts, I’ve got some thoughts that I wish I knew back when 🙂
I love having student nurses working with me, and I try and tell them these tips as soon as possible! 💕
Pretty much all of our patients come to intensive care for respiratory support, the ET tubes and ventilators is what makes it a 1:1 nursing unit. So it’s vital as a bedside nurse you understand the different machines used and the different settings within them. I’ve created these flashcards to do just that, and I hope they’re useful even if you use different machine names wherever you are ☺️💕
Every 3 years in the UK, us nurses and midwives have to revalidate to keep our pins. It sounds like a lot of work, and people do have a love for complaining about it, purely because its a new thing we all have to do but I actually completed mine within a few hours in one go. Once you get it figured out what you need to do, it's quite simple. I'm going to run through what you need to get done to be able to revalidate easily.
1. Practise Hours Log: This is the first section and it's to show you have done a minimum of 350 hours over the last 3 years. The template on the NMC website is perfect, (but you don't have to use it), you can just write where you have worked, and whether you've been full time or part time and add in how many hours that is a week. And that's it.
2. Continuing Professional Development: In this part, you have to show that you've done 35 hours of development, 20 hours of which have to be in groups with other people. This sounds like a lot to show, but with the template (optional) its actually small amounts of information for each one. And for example, I used the yearly PILS course, that was 7 hours, and counted as participatory. Along the side, you need to add, which day you did it, how many hours, and a brief overview of what it included, a couple of sentences.
3. Feedback: You have to show/talk about 5 bits of feedback you've received over the last 3 years. It doesn't have to be in physical form, you can write down what somebody has said to you. You could use a card thats been given to the whole ward, or anything from student nurses you've supported. There is a template for you to write a little piece on each feedback, the template is optional.
4. Reflections: You next need to write 5 reflections on anything that has happened during your nursing or midwifery career. These templates again on the NMC website, HAVE to be used for these reflections. You have space to talk about what the event was, how it has changed your practice, and how it links to the Code of Conduct. For the code section, all you need to do is find one header and write one sentence how it links to it. This was probably the most time consuming section.
5. Reflective Discussion: This section talks about going through your reflections with a colleague and for them to write a little comment and add their nursing PIN. I did this bit with my colleague who was looking over all of my revalidation folder anyway. I didn't have to add anything on this part until we were sitting together. The template online HAS to be used for this.
6. Health & Declaration: There is no separate section for this, but on the confirmation at the end, there is a few tick boxes to go through regarding your health and any disabilities.
7. Confirmation: This sheet is on the NMC website and HAS to be used. You have to go through it and your colleague who is responsible for checking through your revalidation has to add their address and pin.
And that's it. It sounds like a lot, but once you get a contents sheet and figure out what exactly you need to add, it's not too bad. Below is a just a quick guide to your contents page.
A lot of our patients come back from cardiac surgery with their chests open. Mostly, sternum open but skin closed, but sometimes theres a bit of dressing stitched between the 2 sides (cardiac surgeons will say its way more complex than that probably). We nurse them pretty flat while they're like this, and give them time to relax, letting the swelling chill out a bit. Then, routinely, the surgeons and theatre team, or sometimes our tech team, will come down to our unit, turn a few bed spaces into a mini theatre and close the patients chest. As bedside nurse, we have a few jobs to do. I've added them into my little flashcards so the next time I have a closure, I'll be a bit more on it.