A lot happens in 3 months

The first three months of this course passed very quickly. Looking back it’s amazing how much was covered in so little time. Stretched is the only word I can conjure to explain how my brain feels.

When you do broadly the same thing day in – day out for (too) many years you ‘know the ropes.’ It’s a bit like driving a car. With time, changing gear becomes automatic and we no longer need to think about it. Adopting the familiar, we get comfortable and forget how it feels to do something new. It’s a shame, because there’s joy in learning even if it’s hard work. With any luck procuring new knowledge helps keep the brain elastic and forges new neural connections – very beneficial for a mature student like me!

So exactly what happened and what was achieved in 3 months?

  • The first exam, a group presentation for communication skills and person-centred care. My group passed… insert long sigh of relief ✅
  • The formative exam for Anatomy and Physiology, also passed. ✅ The real thing is this week though, 🤞
  • Clinical skills training and pre-placement mandatory training:
  • Manual handling ✅
  • Conflict resolution ✅
  • Basic life support (CPR, choking) ✅
  • Manual blood pressure ✅
  • Wound dressing using aseptic technique ✅
  • Intramuscular injection technique ✅
  • A guided session with a ‘service user’. This was thought-provoking, distressing and educational in equal measure. 💜
  • Making new friendships with a lovely group of like-minded students ❤️
  • First clinical placements were allocated, mine was Trauma and Orthopaedics – a very busy, complex environment with lots for me to learn. 📈

With the exception of exams this has all been informative and generally quite exciting. I’m unable to describe exams as exciting, for me they fall into the necessary evil category. By far the most amazing event of this period is that the first half of our first placement took place.

My placement experience to date requires a post in its own right. It’s created so many different thoughts and emotions. I feel I’ve learnt an incredible amount already, as a human being, as well as a student nurse. I can only imagine the vastness of how much else there is to learn, practice and do.

Highlight of the first 3 months: receiving positive feedback from people I’ve cared for during placement. I’m an inexperienced student so it’s reassuring to know combining limited theoretical nursing knowledge with a fair amount of real-life experience and reasonable interpersonal skills can still make a difference.

Learning point of the first 3 months: there is ever such a lot to learn and that can be daunting. In real terms I’m just starting out. I needed to reflect on and internalise this to help myself feel more comfortable at the start of first placement.

Hopes for next 3 months? I’m excited about returning to placement and hope I can continue contributing positively to my patients and my team. Passing the Anatomy and Physiology exam with a good grade would also be a weight off my shoulders good thing.

Final thought:

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an exam and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

The Sorting Hat & Beyond

Image credit: HarshLight, Flickr

Weeks two and three passed quickly, possibly due to the general confusion groups of fresh students feel, possibly because our schedule is beginning to make sense. Either way some time to reflect has been useful.

Week two was a little on the strange side. A plethora of newness from the timetable to teaching room abbreviations, best places for food or where to park, how to use the vast array of new software (or not) – all became sources of intrigue and frequent questions. There was a lot to take in and although our timetable didn’t look particularly onerous, by the end of the week we’d completed multiple activities, walked around four different campus locations and climbed many, many stairs. According to Fitbit I clocked up over 150 active minutes within two days… and big chunks of both were spent in long lectures.

Our module for week two, Communication and Professional Values, consisted of two-hour lectures followed by a couple of two-hour seminars. Long days were interspersed with a visit to the infirmary museum, online activities, a technology drop-in and uniform fitting. We also encountered our first experience of working in subgroups.

Round one with the sorting hat went well enough, our subgroups started to form and no-one seemed left out or isolated. But it takes time and effort to form good relationships with new people so finding out that these embryonic subgroups would soon be sorted into smaller sub-subgroups for our team presentations (the first summative assessment with a deadline rapidly approaching) was met with mixed emotions.

Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) formed the core focus of week three, and introduced a slightly different module style. Shorter more intense lectures followed by longer subgroup workshops. After a brief introduction to another new software resource, I decided some personal trial-and-error learning seemed the best way to master our ‘essentials of anatomy and physiology SmartBook.’

In reality I haven’t quite mastered the ‘SmartBook’ yet but I have the app and I like it. Becoming familiar with the technology and the learning approach will probably take a little time, but I can honestly say I enjoy this learning resource and gain something from it every time I use it.

A&P isn’t an easy subject. It isn’t one you can wing – well I certainly can’t. Encouragingly, the science I learned many moons ago seems not only to have lodged in the archives of my brain but also appears capable of resurrection! I vaguely remember anatomy of the heart and the respiratory system – it may be slightly ropey but this recall feels reassuring. I am not completely devoid of A&P knowledge and fortunately, rediscovering how our bodies work is proving even more fascinating now than it was during 6th form. There is ever such a lot to learn though and the first exam is only 14 weeks away. Guess what I’ll be doing over Christmas…

Revision 📚📚📚📚📚👩‍💻📚📚📚📚📚

Highlight of the fortnight: Uniform fitting. Completely straightforward and in a size that made me happy. As MiB say, welcome to the last suit I’ll ever wear.

Learning point of the fortnight: The human body is far more complex, perfectly adapted and intriguing than most of us ever imagine. It’s not just flesh and bone, it’s science, precision engineering and the most beautiful fine art too.

Hopes for next week: Positive meeting with Aacdemic Personal Tutor, uneventful second sorting hat adventure for our smaller sub-subgroups and a clearer idea of the first assessment because it’s not far away!

Final thought…

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings

Meister Eckhart

Week One: Induction & Welcome

Week one of 135, let’s do this!

It’s almost 9 months since I applied to study Adult Nursing. Time has flown and suddenly I’m registering for my course, providing evidence of my DBS check and collecting my student ID card. In return I get a planner (useful) and a notebook complete with campus maps (extraordinarily useful). It’s a beautifully sunny Saturday on a relaxed and friendly campus in an historic city. It’s also the start of the next three years – or 135 weeks – of study, practice and placements. I have no doubt some of this will be difficult but I’m equally certain it will be enormously rewarding.

Induction week begins with a welcoming speech from a very senior academic. He’s enthusiastic, refreshingly geeky about health science, and especially encouraging of student nurses. He acknowledges we’ve chosen a tough course and emphasises it’s hugely worthwhile because we’ll make a tangible difference, from our first placement through to graduation and everything beyond.

At Tuesday’s session I recognise a couple faces from summer school. There are perhaps 100 of us in the lecture theatre so it’s impossible to do anything more than wave. I get a couple of minutes to ask a little about my neighbours but there’s a lot to take onboard and none of us wants to miss key points. Social chit-chat becomes a second order priority for the moment.

Social media, however, is something else. My phone ping, ping, pings from pre-7am until lectures start, during breaks, and again as soon as teaching finishes until late in the evening. Every time I pick it up there’s a tsunami of multifaceted and miscellaneous Messenger soundbites. Enthusiasm, excitement, hopes, concerns, bewilderment, anxiety, and oh so many questions! It is constant, it is chaotic, and in a bizarre way it’s connecting us as a group. People are already helping each other, sharing information and offering support.

The week progresses well and I start to get to grips with the timetable. I’ve always been okay with scheduling but unlike other courses we have three timetables to juggle. Thankfully there’s a pattern, it just takes a while to join the dots. Keeping an eye on room changes is also essential but there are no issues to report. We’re a large cohort, too large for meaningful seminars or group-work, so sub-groupings will be announced soon. Watch this space.

By Thursday we’ve already encountered a lot of new technology and faster than the speed of sound it starts to fuel the pinging Messenger melee. Most messages are something to do with IT. Confession time… I’m an ex-technologist, I generally get technology, but the software equivalent of a pointillist painting viewed at three paces simply makes no sense to me or any of my peers. The picture isn’t clear. Software/app design folks please take note: suggesting we download an app that varies significantly from its web counterpart e.g. chunks of core functionality are missing or don’t work properly creates two things. Frustration and confusion.

By Friday I’m able to put a few names to faces in my cohort and have met some good academics who are obviously enthusiastic about us, about their specialist subjects and how much we’ll learn. I know what my modules are, when and where they take place and have refreshed my memory about Harvard referencing. I’ve met my personal academic tutor, module leaders and representatives from all of the support services. Everyone exuded positivity.

Highlight of the week: Bumping into and getting the biggest hug imaginable from the third year student nurse who was part of my selection day, just as she was about to sit her final exam! Keeping everything crossed for you lovely lady.

Learning point of the week: Try not to overthink things. Most of the niggles and worries I’d created in my mind we’re unnecessary and unfounded.

Hopes for next week: Getting stuck in to the modules.

Final thought…

There’s no next time. It’s now or never.

Celestine Chua