Happy New Year!
Welcome back to That Nurse Life's more consistent blogging :)
2018 was a good old year over here, I actually kept up with my nursing instagram for the whole year (I'm generally rubbish with keeping up with new ideas!) Other exciting things that happened last year..
Heres a little flick through of some highlights from my nursing + general life in 2018!
I'm not naive enough to think there's no bad parts to being a nurse, I spent my first year on PIC pretty much dreading every second. But I've made an aim to focus on the positive things, and to remember them for the moments I need them. I'm hoping to make this in a monthly post, all the beautiful things I've experienced at work that month. There's always something beautiful happening around us, you just have to find it.
When I started making my flashcards I wasn’t sure how to keep track of the medications I was giving, knowing what they were used for and the reactions and things. So I kinda didn’t do anything, but I started to have patients and parents ask me about drugs I was putting up and I didn’t know the answers. I felt so rubbish, and knew as part of our nursing code we should understand why we’re giving each drug! I decided to get a little notebook I could carry around and do it alphabetically. Essentially an address book but I just couldn’t find one I liked. I added stickers down the side every few pages and wrote the alphabet on each one.
I then tried to keep track of all the medications I was administering and wrote them into little pink post it notes on the matching pages. Whenever I get time I research a few of the medications and jot down what they are, what they’re used for and any things I need to remember. I find it so useful to write things down in basic language, rather than all the technical-medical language other places online and in the BNF use.
Every shift I use a shift planner to plan out all the things I need to get done. They're available on the unit, most people use them I think, but generally just for medications. Some will circle the times on the side when things are due and others jot them down. I kinda go into a bit more detail and I love it. I've created a version filled it in for a pretend patient to show you how I colour code and annotate it.
The top photo shows what our planners look like, pretty simple and lots of space. I use my 4 coloured pen (the one with cuter colours) and first add a few things to the sides. My general to-do list goes on the left, anything that isn't time specific but needs to be done on my shift. And on the right, my to-gets. We can't leave our bed spaces so I keep a tally of the things I need to grab, and when I go for break or someone close by is going that direction we can get them. I make the dotted line down the middle to split my tasks on the left, and things that happen during the shift on the right. You'll see what I mean further down.
First, I always start with medications. I go through the drug chart and write down all the things due, and what route. This is always done in purple. I also go through my infusions and write when they expire, I put them down in capitals and add it to my to-do list because I want these done at least 2 hours before they expire (for inotropes the general rule is to be made up and started to double pump with 4 hours spare).
Anything nutrition wise goes in blue, and these are things like if we're on hourly feeds, if the feeds are meant to be increased at certain points, when to aspirate the NG tube and if we need to do our PN.
I then add in any normal day-to-day things and paperwork. So the safety checks (although I've already done them, I still like to add it so I can tick it off), patient assessment, tissue viability scoring, 4 hourly cares, completing my chart, any chest drain readings, EVD readings, log rolls due etc.
I will tick everything off in the left hand column/to-do/to-get in pink, and cross off the hours as they've gone. In the right hand column I write in pink anything that has happened, like desaturations, low BP, parents arriving and leaving, ward rounds and plans, gases due as a consequence of new developments etc. and these are ticked off in black. By the end of the shift, my planner looks a bit like this...
It makes it easier to write my notes at the end of the shift, when I've got the major things written down. It makes me feel calmer knowing I have everything I ever need to do that shift written in front of me and I don't have to try and remember and panic that I've forgotten anything. Love to be organised.
My flashcards hold all the secrets for me to get through my shifts, everything I need to remember (and more to come, probably for ever!). For this post I'm going to show the ones that are under my general PIC knowledge, although they can be transferable to other specialities and wards.
The link below will take you to my step-by-step post about making the flashcards :)
1️⃣ You will love it here! Eventually. You will go through so many emotions and feel like quitting. But if you just stick with it, sometimes just getting through the next hour. You’ll cry a lot and debate leaving nursing all together. It will take nearly a year, but you’ll love it.
2️⃣ It takes time to make friends. We’re a big team and it just takes a while to see the same people on shift and to become friends. PIC friends are some of the best though, they understand the highs and lows of the job.
3️⃣ Some people seem rude, and some just don’t like new people. Don’t take it personally. Some of those that appear rude you’ll actually learn to like, it’s just their ways. Some are just rude and probably will always be. I’d rather be the person that smiles than the person that doesn’t smile back.
4️⃣ Spend time learning outside. You can’t just learn it from the shifts. There are so many drugs, write them down and learn what they do. Learn anatomy and how to position patients. You don’t have to know everything, but you gotta try with what you see.
5️⃣ Understand why you’re doing something, and if you don’t understand why, ask! You should know your rationale. And people will ask you to justify things.
6️⃣ It’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone does. You just have to be honest, tell people, so that if anything needs to be done to help rectify it, it can be done. People won’t hate you. Parents might be angry, and you’ll feel so rubbish. But it’s the right thing to do to be open. Learn from the mistakes you make.
7️⃣ Don’t bring change with you! Fight the urge to buy chocolate. You can do it.
8️⃣ Learn how to document effectively. And write your notes in any quiet time you have, don’t wait until the end of the shift when it goes pear shaped. If things are documented elsewhere, you don’t need to rewrite it, but learn to write legibly and to the point.
9️⃣ Your shift planner will be your best friend on the shift. Colour code it, annotate it to help with note writing, don’t try to memorise when your drugs are due.
🔟 Your colleagues are amazing, and most will help you in anyway you can. Make sure you’re a team player. You have to learn to prioritise your work and be able to support those who need it. But also, check infusions and drugs when you come on shift for yourself, don’t just trust their word for it that it’s right!
There aren’t loads of expensive things you need to get to do well during nursing school. I’ve listed the basic essentials I used to get through comfortably, and where I felt I needed to spend s little more on. I wouldn’t recommend getting a stethoscope, we hardly used it and every ward has them. We only used electronic blood pressure machines during simulations and on the wards.
• Pencil case + pens
• Notebooks/paper: whichever works for you
• Computer/Laptop: or access to one to do your work
• Planner: organised life is the way forward
• Lunch boxes: bear the fresher 15 and meal prep
• Books: you can use the library for most essay specific books, but in general, I’d say I used my A&P book all the time and still do now, and my children’s nursing book. I bought those 2 and use them to this day, 3 years post qualified.
• Bag: it’s gonna be heavy, make it a good quality and comfy. I love a good cute rucksack.
• Water bottle
• Notebook: to jot things down quickly when you hear it or to remind yourself to research later
• Water Bottle: I use a 1 litre camelbak one, I love it!
• Pens: black and those 4 coloured ones
• Fob watch
• Pen torch
• Comfy shoes
I’m going to do a bit of an interview series over here. I’ve been through a few nursing school interviews, newly qualified interviews and as an experienced nurse, so I’ve got a little experience. I’ve never been confident with interviews, but who is? They’re nerve wracking and scary but something we all have to do. Im going to chat through the nursing school interviews I did, some of questions they asked me and top tips to help!
My nursing/university journey is a little bit different to the majority out there because I did a 3 year undergraduate degree and then completed a post graduate diploma in children’s nursing, a 2 year, fast tracked, masters level course.
I had interviews at 3 universities in London, and got offered places at 2 of them. At each of them we had to do a Maths and English test, nothing crazy hard, just to make sure we had legible writing probably.
We also had group sessions in front of a panel. The group I was in had to create a Christmas party for a children’s ward, the key is just to talk. I’m pretty shy, especially in things like these but I just found some adrenaline and knew if I wanted to get in, I had to just say anything useful. And realistically, everyone is feeling exactly the same! Make sure to listen to the others in the group, (key to being nurse too), don’t talk over each other, always act professional and mature, and work as a team. These are all keys things the interviewers are looking for!
The came the individual interviews, these are as many questions I can remember being asked...
Some top tips to remember on the day;
Good luck!! 💕💕