What was my favourite placement? Aw, this is a difficult one; I genuinely cannot pick which my favourite placement has been, because I have loved and learnt lots from them all. There is a running joke between my mum, my partner and I that every time I go to a different placement, I then decide that is where I want to work. I guess there is some element of truth to this, however, as I have advanced throughout my studies, I have developed a real passion for oncology and palliative care. I think it will be tough to sway me from this. For that reason, I guess you could say my favourite placement was my most recent, which was the Outpatients Department of the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. However, I have loved elements of them all, and I want to share with you all why.
This ward was where I first learned how to put my practical skills into action, and to deliver essential nursing care. Before this, I had no experience of working in a caring environment. I am not going to lie, I was petrified, and it was a baptism of fire. I cannot thank my mentor Louise and all the other staff enough. Their support and encouragement confirmed to me that I could do it – I could be a nurse. I had a 12-week placement here while doing my HNC in Care & Administrative Practice. When I was accepted onto the articulation programme, this ward then became my hub placement, meaning I will return to the ward for three weeks at the end of this summer, and then complete my thirteen-week, sign-off, management placement there at the end of my third year. I became fascinated by wound care on this placement, as well as chronic disease management as the ward cares for many diabetic patients. It is a very busy ward, caring for both surgical and medical patients. I know it will be a challenging ward to complete my management placement on, but I am looking forward to the challenge, and know I will be well supported.
General outpatients department:
This was the first placement I went to after I knew I had been accepted into the second year of the BSc Nursing Studies (Adult) programme at Glasgow Caledonian University. At first, I found it very different working in an outpatients department after working on a busy ward, and I missed being able to follow the patient journey. What it did make me focus on, however, was forming therapeutic relationships with patients quickly, as I didn’t have an extended period of time to get to know them. I also enjoyed getting to sit in on consultations with the different consultants and nurse specialists as the department covered a variety of different specialities within their clinics. My favourite experience was observing the nurse-led minor operations clinic. I was in awe, as the nurse had complete autonomy in her role; it was fascinating to watch her carry out what would have once been a doctor’s role. Very inspiring and emboldening. She also kept me on my toes with her quick-fire questions, which I loved.
Again, I loved this placement. I know, it’s becoming a recurring theme. I find the heart fascinating, and while on this placement, I learnt so much about specialist cardiac drugs and infusion pumps. I am fascinated by pharmacology – one of the reasons I would eventually like to become a nurse prescriber – so I found this really exciting. It was also on this placement that I learned how to carry out ECG readings and telemetry, learning the old pneumonic “Ride Your Green Bike”. Due to a large number of patients being on furosemide, this placement reinforced to me the importance of properly monitoring fluid balance. Something that has remained with me on all subsequent placements, as I feel this is a measurement we do not always document accurately or focus on well enough.
At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t like community nursing; I couldn’t have been more wrong. My mentor, Nancy, played a massive role in this. She was absolutely fantastic: so supportive and encouraging, and by the end of my placement, she was allowing me to make decisions regards wound care and treatment options. For the first time, I really felt like an autonomous nurse, using my critical thinking and evidence-based practice skills. I really cannot thank her enough. I loved district nursing because it combined so many of my interests: wound care, chronic disease management and palliative care. It was definitely on this placement that my passion for palliative care stepped up a gear. I also really liked being able to go into the patient’s homes to deliver their care. I definitely think this is the way nursing and all healthcare provision should be moving. It feels more natural, as patients and their families are more comfortable and less vulnerable in their homes. We should always be striving to make healthcare more person-centred.
Medicine for the Elderly:
This placement really helped me learn how to manage the care of patients with multiple, complex comorbidities. The ward had a lot of patients with advanced dementia and other cognitive impairments. This meant we were managing the care of patients who were at serious risk of falling but were unaware. Also, patients were on a lot of medications, but either didn’t want to or didn’t understand why they had to take them. This was a new challenge and made me really have to work on developing my communication skills. Every day on the wards made me think of my grandparents: how I would like them to be treated should they be in a hospital. I always try to be polite, kind and friendly, but this ward more than ever made me conscious of that.
I was delighted when by chance I got placed in this department. Had I not been, I would definitely have selected oncology for my elective next year. I loved every minute and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am certain oncology is where I want to work. I know that some people consider it to be a sad place to work, but I see the hope and the wonderful, resilient people who are dealing with the hand that they have been dealt. When there is no more that can be done, I admire their courage and bravery. I believe I have something to give to patients and their families. To be a nurse is such a great privilege: to be there for someone when they are at their lowest. I want to be the one there to support them through these difficult times.
So, yeah, it’s too difficult to pick my favourite. I’ve loved them all.