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Nursing

A&E Covid 19 Story Week 1

Week 1

A&E Covid 19 Story: Cancelled training sessions, E learning and apprehension

To begin the A&E Covid 19 story I start at week 1.This is mostly training. The first day I sit in a training classroom of about 30 people. We are given advice on hand washing and vague advice about isolating/not attending if you have Covid 19 symptoms. No one else on the induction is about to start in the Emergency Department (ED). Everyone looks slightly concerned when I tell them where I will be working. We are made to take part in teamwork activities with no respect shown to social distancing advice and we are given lunch. There’s plenty of hand sanitiser to go around and a lot of people are covering their phones with it too.

My online timetable shows the activities for the day but have gaps for the next day with no explanation of what they require me to do on these days. I emailed my line manager and received no reply so walked to the emergency department to suss out the situation about what they had planned for me for the week.

Covid-19!

There are banners everywhere, COVID-19. No visitors! Most importantly, there is a sense of alarm and panic once inside the department however it seems unusually quiet as there are no visitors. I meet with my manager who apologises for a chaotic induction week due to the circumstances and explains the clinical educators are both currently off work. 

The nurse asks me to go home and work on e-learning for the week. This is due to the cancellation of all of my training classes, apart form basic life support and IT system training.

I prep for the next week which is where I start working in ED. Click on the links below to read more on A&E Covid 19 Story.

Want to follow the journey? Click Here for the SurvivingNurse Instagram.

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Nursing

A&E Covid 19 Story: London

Confidentiality disclaimer: To ensure the NMC’s guidelines on confidentiality are adhered to, no personal or identifying information will be in this blog. All names used will be pseudonyms and no place, staff or patient details will be used. 

Week 1: Cancelled training sessions, e-learning and apprehension

Week 2: Starting in the Emergency Department

Week 3: Emotional Strain and Covid-19 Resus

Week 4: The logistical issues of discharging patients with Covid

Week 5: #ClapforHeroes

Week 6: Myth-busting and FAQ’s

Week 7: Changes to the NHS

Week 8: Scrubs and the Inequality Beneath

Week 9: Post Covid Complications & an Innovative NHS

Week 10: Covid 19 and BAME Inequality

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Nursing

Tips for Newly Qualified Nurses!

Top 10 Tips for Newly Qualified Nurses!

I have worked on an Acute Medical Unit for a year now, making me realise its time to publish some tips for newly qualified nurses! Recently I have been mentoring some newly qualified nurses. It really made me reflect on how much I had learnt in a year and inspired me to birth this list to hopefully help new nurses with the hellish struggle that is being a NQ Nurse!

  1. Introduce yourself and try your best to learn names. Knowing someones name is one of the easiest way to start building your work relationship with them.
  2. Try not to panic- You’re new to this, you can’t be expected to know everything.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. There is absolutely no avoiding mistakes, we are human, therefore, fallible to human error. When mistakes do happen, follow the correct protocol (For example, a drug error protocol might consist of informing the clinician and nurse in charge, informing the patient, reporting the incident and monitoring the patient more closely). Ultimately, reflect and take it as a learning experience.
  4. Do not be afraid to ask for advice and ask someone else if you still feel unsure.

Seeking Help

  1. Seek help if you’re struggling, it may seem like there is pressure on you to show your worth or ‘earn your stripes’, however this can become unsafe and if you are out of your depths escalate this to the nurse in charge or more senior nurse/sister.
  2. Escalate as often as you need to. Although it may seem difficult to approach a doctor who looks busy to voice your concerns, or to tell a senior nurse that you need help with the rest of your patients whilst your provide care to a very sick patient in an emergency, escalating is essential to the job. In legal terms, ‘My workload was unmanageable’ is not seen as a viable excuse for something unless the situation was escalated accordingly. If you believe you have been left in an unsafe situation, regarding staffing or workload, it is something you have a responsibility to yourself and your patients to address and let senior staff know. 

Delegate

  1. Most of the time you will (if staffing allows) work with a care support worker/nursing assistant every shift. Don’t be afraid to delegate appropriate tasks such as observations or BMs when you need to. This will free up more of your time to focus looking after a poorly patient or meds rounds. Working as a team to achieve the tasks of the day will lighten the workload everyone.
  2. When you feel ready, join the bank so you can gain experience of working on other wards. This is a good way build your knowledge in different fields. I would recommend staying close to the field that you work in currently, aka booking a shift on another medical ward if you work on a medical ward, and then moving around more as you gain confidence.

Unions

  1. Join a Union, this is a requirement for any new starter. It may not seem worth it at first. However, when facing increasingly unsafe conditions with the nursing shortage it is better to be safe than sorry. This may invaluable if you ever do need any legal support.
  2. Trust your gut instinct. Many nurses have had experiences where a patient has appeared haemodynamically stable yet they had ‘sensed’ something wasn’t right. They then escalated to the doctor and discovered their instincts were correct. Nurses are the ones who spend all day with the patient. A doctor might only see them once a day for 10 minutes. Your gut instinct is invaluable. 

Hopefully these tips for newly qualified nurses will help. Starting as a newly qualified nurse sucks, there is no denying it. The most important tip of all is just hang in there and soldier through. It will get easier.

Good luck x

If you want to follow my journey as an A&E nurse on Instagram, Click Here

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Nursing

6 Months Newly Qualified Nurse Realisations

I started working, on a busy, 56 bedded acute medical unit in 2018, where I experienced my first 6 months of being a newly qualified nurse. It was only recently, on a night out with the two girls I met in the induction week, that we collectively realised we had survived 6 months! Surely that means we had done it! Passed the milestone, the peak, the first trial. This prompted me to reflect on my time since qualification and the realisations that came with each month.

6 Months of being a Newly Qualified Nurse

Month 1

This is serious

This is it. The real deal. You do quite literally hit the ground running. At first the responsibility is CRUSHING. The amount you don’t know stands starkly against the amount you do and it is daunting. You’re shit scared. Do not panic. 

Month 2

This is tiring

The training days are mostly finished, your supernumerary time is over and you’re tired. The realisation that this might be your job for the rest of your life might make you want to cry and your friends cushy desk jobs are eyeing you up. You’ve bitterly missed out on several social events and your friends have got accustomed to the “sorry working :/” text every time they try to make plans. This is when you start to wonder if you can hack it. Your resilience will be tested this month.

Month 3

This is interesting

Once your body has adjusted to the perpetual tiredness you’ll start to realise that on every single shift your knowledge is expanding exponentially. You almost wish it didn’t just to give your psyche a rest for a day! However, a restful time is not what you signed up for. Instead you get this exhausting, thrilling, draining, life affirming and meaningful slap in the face every day. You might start to notice a gap between you and your peers- people of the same age in different careers as they just can’t conceive what you experience in 12 hours. Things might be looking up. You’re learning quickly and starting to thrive.

Month 4

This is hilarious

Hey that doctor just remembered your name. There are new starters who ask you questions and you can point them in the right direction. Your work-social life will expand and there will be times where you’re pissing yourself in the treatment room. No one ever said nursing was boring. You will make friends that you can talk to when you need to and you’ll also have some pretty special moments.

Month 5

This is meaningful

Every time you leave work you’re walking away with more life experience than you had 12 hours ago. You will cherish the special moments and you’ll remember that you have made a difference. “They may forget what you said- but they will never forget how you made them feel.”- attributed to Carl W. Buehner. Whilst this man was a church official from the 30s, it rings true to me in forms such as brightening a poorly patients day or making a difference to someones experience of their last breaths.

As cliche as it sounds, you see people at the height of vulnerability and engage with people from every walk of life. The lessons of wisdom are invaluable, elderly patients have plenty of insights to offer young nurses (avoid marriage at all costs is mentioned often by the ladies) and you are not just unshielded, but engaged daily with raw human emotion, vulnerability, sickness and the unforgiving truth of mortality. Try to take time to reflect on this- factor in some ‘me’ time between all the shifts and look after yourself.

Month 6

This is it

No ones died yet!…only joking, quite a lot of people have died. Although that very much comes with the territory of being a 6 months newly qualified nurse. In fact, it comes with the territory of being a nurse. The future holds more struggles, your job is a daily challenge but you’re doing it! You have survived 6 months! You are a survivor! This is a career that offers one of the most rewarding human experiences. Your skill set will be atrophied from the hard days, the standard shifts feel somewhat doable! You’ve developed your own routine and you have fully ingratiated into the team. Things feel stable and…good.