Nursing Experience 1.0

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I just finished the first two weeks of my first attachment at an acute setting -- Changi General Hospital and I have mixed feelings about it. While nursing is already a very tough and demanding profession, having stubborn or rude patients will definitely make your day 10x worse. As if being on your feet for eight hours a day isn't bad enough (get comfortable shoes!!), you're running around getting requisites and food and everything and dealing with patients who're ringing their call bell all the time. You'll get patients who have fall risk but still want to walk to the toilet every few minutes, diabetic patients who ask for more sugar, patients who yell incoherently for no reason, patients who lecture and advise you on how to do your job. That's just the beginning. You'll get patients who spit on your face, patients who'll call you a bitch even though you're only doing what's right. Don't let it get to you. It might take awhile to pick yourself back up after a shitty encounter when you're starting out, but believe in yourself. Leave the shit in shitty shifts behind. On the other hand, you'll have really nice patients. Patients who ask if you've had lunch or dinner, patients who tell you to sit down when you're evidently tired, patients who joke around and make you laugh, patients who want to know you better (please don't tell everything about yourself you have to maintain some professionalism in a workplace), patients whose faces light up when they see you at the start of the shift -- and it's these patients that put a smile on my face. I was in a surgical ward and one thing that I learnt is that you'll encounter really really bad patients... but you'll also meet really nice patients who make it all worthwhile. 

So of course, nursing is very patient-centered, but not everything is about the patients!! (Actually yes it is lah but) the staff you're working with matters a lot. As a student nurse in NUS, I'm attached to this hospital for six weeks and every two weeks, I'll switch wards. And every week I'll be in one team which is basically like sixteen beds in a C Class ward. Every shift there will be two staff nurses and one enrolled nurse. And as a total newbie, of course you'll spend the first few days observing everyone and there'll be some nurses who are willing and even excited to teach you -- they're the best. Those nurses make the shift enjoyable and memorable. Nurses who make jokes, call you "babe" even though you've known them like two days, and actually give a shit about you -- they're the ones to be thankful for. Of course there'll be nurses who completely ignore you, ask you to do stuff and don't even stay long enough for you to ask what which when where why how. So the staff you work with is super super important. Of course you don't really have a say in the matter. You might get a staff nurse who asks you to go home and rest immediately when your shift ends, or a nurse who asks you to begin nasogastric tube feeding for a patient right when you're about to leave. It really just depends on your luck. 

My last attachment in December was at a nursing home and wowowowow a hospital is so so different.

Tips for student nurses (attached at CGH):
- Get a kopitiam card, there's 20% off at hospitals
- Arrive 15 minutes early and check on all your patients
- Get really comfortable shoes or else you'll die
- Revise on your skillz and knowledge (or you'll be a blur queen like me)
- Be proactive (easier said than done, but this is super important!!)
- Talk to your patients! Get to know them. They have such interesting stories
- Have fun! 
- Go home, rest, elevate your legs

Some days will be worse than others, but you have to be strong, put in 110% and hope for the best!!

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