I started nursing placement last Monday (17/9) at a hospital in southern Tasmania in an Assessment and Planning Unit (APU). I was so nervous about this prac because my last one, which was in palliative care, didn’t go very well. In all fairness I hadn’t been on placement for 18 months due to failing bioscience in first year and that was a pre-req for the placement unit for second year – everyone knows what that means . . .
Anyhow, I became really anxious during that placement. Physically: I was so stressed out out that I didn’t think before I did anything, e.g. I gave medication without knowing what it was for – massive no-no in the medical practice – and I put finger pricks for blood sugar checks in an ordinary bin instead of a sharps container. A bit of TMI here but I am a nursing student – I couldn’t get off the toilet either because the anxiety was attacking my digestive system. During the first week I stopped taking my morning meds because I thought that that was the reason I couldn’t keep my eyes open at 7am handover which was really due to the fact I wasn’t sleeping properly.
Emotionally: Palliative care is ‘end-of-life-care’ mainly aimed at minimising the patient’s pain and maximising the patient’s comfort. There’s no CPR because their bodies are too weak to fight but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. So anxiety struck me like a gunshot wound – I turned into someone with scary behaviour. Mentioning to someone having chemo that I’d had a central line too, but for shock treatment! Like why would I even say say that?! I was either too nervous or too jovial and whatever I did wrong intercepted back to my clinical facilitators who gave me 3 strikes before deeming I was unsafe to practice – 3 days before I finished the 3 weeks. It was . . . horrible. The thought of telling my parents that I’d failed prac seemed far less appealing than getting hit by a truck.
BUT I trudged on, with the resilience that’s fought off numerous bouts of depression. I’d fallen over again, yes, but I wiped off the dirt and started planning what I had to do.
Well as a novelist, I try my best to make sure my stories follow a “learn-by-mistakes” policy and guess what? This placement – so far – could not have been better. With a week to go I’ve really been enjoying it and learning heaps!
I credit my resilience and courage for picking up the increasingly scary task of going into placement again, building upon all the criticism I gained from palliative and – so far – it’s working.
“Observe how a child learns to walk, they fall over constantly but keep getting up again – we have so much to learn from toddlers” – Cheryl Jones