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Student Nurses

Are you ever ready for your first Cardiac Arrest?

Andrew H



Are you ever ready to perform CPR for the first time? This is Andrew’s story…

I was lucky enough to have a placement in A&E, it was my dream come true and the place I want to start my career. However, as with anything new I had some anxiety, one of the biggest was performing CPR. We have all kissed a dummy and made its chest click, but what was it going to be like in comparison to the real thing? As a CPR virgin I had many different thoughts, would I remember how to do it? Would I be able to do it? Would I just be in the way as a student?

My second day on my new placement, the red phone rang and I was called over by the nurse in charge, ”We have a cardiac arrest on its way, go and join the team”. The over sensing fear rushed over my body, with a strange element of excitement, soon blown out by the enormity of the situation. The team were forming and next to me was a fellow student who was on her first day, both looking as petrified as each other.

As on TV, the consultant gave each person a job, even us!!!! Can you do compressions if needed? He asked. Of course, I said yes, but with the blue gloves on my hands started filling with sweat, my heart thumped in my chest, my stomach churning and my head trying to remember my training. The other student was asked to scribe, supported by a nurse. Wow, we are really part of this team, fully involved and supported by the others around us. The doors then flew open, it seemed like something out of the movies at first, but then reality kicked in and I was taking everything in. The patient was transferred to the bed and he had a Lucas machine strapped to his chest. For those of you who have not see a Lucas machine, it basically does the compressions for you. Unfortunately, this patient had been down a long time out of hospital and the decision to stop was made a short while after he arrived.

Even though I hadn’t really done much, it really felt like I had. The emotions of the situation draining my energy. After we had helped dress down the patient, we had the opportunity to have a debrief with the nurse in charge. She explained the whole process to us and how advanced life support was different to basic life support and gave us the opportunity to reflect on the situation. We were further debriefed by some more of the team, which made us feel as an important part of the team. I was gutted to see my first death and probably slightly relieved that I hadn’t had to do CPR, but I still had my CPR virginity.

Anyway, the following week another cardiac arrest came in, all the same emotions and feelings came flashing back to me. This time I was asked to scribe and keep a time check, a really important job in the situation. Then seconds later they arrived, a fireman performing compressions supported by an ambulance crew. Swiftly he was slid onto the bed and compressions began. If anyone hasn’t seen a resus room when a cardiac arrest comes in this is how I would describe it; ‘organised mayhem’ in the most subdued controlled environment, that probably makes no sense but it’s the only way I can describe it.

Time ticked by and compressions continued, I was shouting out every two minutes so they could perform a pulse check and the drugs were being administered. Suddenly I was asked to help with compressions, with out even a thought, I was there hands the patients chest performing compressions. It felt so different to that dummy we had practised on, but I had remembered, I was fully involved trying to save this mans life. I carried on rotating with other nurses and doctors with the compressions as well as helping scribe when I could. After what felt like hours, the man had a pulse and we were able to transfer him to the cath lab to have a stent inserted, unfortunately later on that day that patient died.

It was an amazing experience as well as a very sad experience. I had been part of a team trying to save a mans life, I wasn’t just a student, I was an active member of that team. Feedback was given to me by a couple of the doctors throughout the situation, giving me a confidence boost that I was doing the right thing. Reflecting on this experience has taught me a lot about being a student nurse and if I can pass these on to other students they would be. Firstly we are part of the team, we support nurses and doctors through potentially life-saving interventions. Secondly, we need to grab the chance to get involved in any situation we can, however daunting it may be at the time. Finally, belief in our own abilities, we are training to become nurses for a reason.

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Student Nurses

My ‘average’ day as a Student Nurse

Deirdre Mulvenna-Pegrum



Ohhh… What is that beeping noise? Stop it! Go and see why that patient keeps pressing the buzzer, will you? Oh, no, wait. It’s my alarm.

Out of bed, still dark, lucky the heating has just come on.  My dogs are weaving in and out of my legs, more excited than I to be up at this ungodly hour – again.

Time to wander downstairs, get that kettle on. First cup of the day – but possibly my last drink until my break time.  Make the most of it.  Dogs into the garden, thank goodness, no barking this early.  Come on you two, time for biscuits.  At least I know my husband will give them a walk when he gets up – when it is light and the birds have stopped their dawn chorus.  What am I saying?  It’s too dark for even that yet!

Right, tea done.  Cannot face breakfast at this hour – just have to hope I get a fifteen-minute break later and be able to get some toast…. Into the shower.  The dogs follow me upstairs and settle back into their cosy beds.  Thanks.  I feel even better about going out into that drizzly, dark morning.


Uniform on.  Coat needed, it is chilly today.  Rucksack with portfolio, check.  Parking scratch card, check.  Car keys, check.  5.50am, out of the house.  Headlights on full.  I hate the drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark days – it is a really hard slog.  Sometimes I try to go for a walk during my break just to get outside and see the sun and inhale some good, clean air, rather than antiseptic and sickness.

It’s a long drive to the hospital.  It is more enjoyable as the roads are quiet at this time of day – I think doing this in rush hour would finish me off.  Arrive safely.  Parking good too this time of day, so no mile walk from the car park – especially as the rain has just started now.  I head into placement, ten minutes early.  Time to put my bag in a cupboard – no lockers for us students.  I always worry about leaving anything valuable there.  No offence intended to anyone.  I have learned to carry my cash – a small amount – in my uniform pocket – which is not ideal, but needs must.

Wash my hands, remember the wrists and finger tips – you never know who is observing you.  Into the ward.  Good, my mentor is not here yet.  I grab a seat.  The thing about nursing is, grab a seat while you may, it does not happen often!

Time for handover.  Not many in-patients today.  Good, but the ones we have will keep us busy – I’m sure.

Check the list – we have eighteen patients, more male than female, due into the ward today.  I will wait until my mentor tells me which side to work on.  I guess I shall end up helping whoever needs me though – as is usual.  I do not mind this.  It allows me to see how different nurses, both male and female, work and how they treat and care for their patients.

When I first arrived at this placement, one nurse treated me like a porter; go the pharmacy, walk this patient to the entrance to meet their lift.  I put up with precisely one day of this.  I asked my mentor, ever so subtly, if the other staff were aware I was actually a third year, not a first year, and that I would really appreciate observing them if they did not want me to actually do things instead.  That did not happen again.

Eight o’clock.  Breakfast time.  Then observations and reporting any concerns.  Encouraging those who could to walk to the bathroom, making sure they are steady.  Check to see when they should be discharged, and encourage them to get dressed and sit in the patient lounge.  Once they are there, and all their belongings packed up, time to get the paperwork on the go.  Check to see if they need appointments, check to see if they need to go home with instructions or drugs, and make sure they understand all about them.  Once their escort arrives, it is time to get the bed stripped and cleaned down, as theatre have been on wanting us to take another.

Theatre gets backed up as they cannot get the recovery bay clear.  It is so frustrating.  This continues all day.  We have three visits from the bed manager.  It is no good – we cannot make beds magically appear. We cannot discharge patients until they are ready.  We all feel under pressure, me included.

Time for a break.  Fifteen minutes.  I grab a coffee and a healthy snack bar.  I can eat them outside.  Back to the ward.

More patients.  These want to have a snack and leave.  Luckily, they are all able to.  We do not have anyone who needs extra care until after lunch – which was a lovely salad and a walk around the hospital – it’s raining too hard to venture outside, much as though I would love to.

The changeover has been constant.  We only have twelve beds, and have to rotate a minimum of eighteen patients, sometimes more, in a day through them.  It just takes a couple who do not recover well to hold this up.  Sometimes it is so busy I do not exchange more than a few words with my mentor.  We have to be constantly aware and observant of all the patients.

This is exhausting. I did not get another break this afternoon.  I do enjoy chatting with the patients though.  It is good to make them have a laugh when it is appropriate.  At least most of them went home smiling and happy.  Great – give them the friends and family card… Cynical old me.

Handover sheet updated.  I grab a sneaky seat – remember when I said earlier, take a seat when you can?  This, apart from my break, has been the second opportunity today.  Thank god for flight socks – my legs would need lifting into the car individually if I did not have these sexy beauties.

Handover is given to the night staff.  Hopefully, they will not have a difficulty shift.  There are only three patients staying in.  Problem is though, even though they are fully staffed, it is likely someone will come and steal one of the HCA’s, or even a nurse to work elsewhere in the hospital.

Time to go home.  Get my rucksack.  Did not have time for my mentor to do anything in my portfolio today.  Will just have to wait for the next shift.  It’s dark again.  Head lights on full.  Thank the lord for the light traffic.  I would hate to think about how I would feel stuck behind a learner or a tractor as I wend my weary way home.  God, the dogs will be sulking.

Home, bag down, my lovely dogs pleased to see me.  It is 8.30pm.  It has been a long day.  Time for a cuppa, ring my mum and make sure she is okay.  Then a quick shower and then I should be able to hear my pillow whistling for me.

Yup, there it goes.   Good night all.  Until 5am tomorrow…

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Shift Planner for Nurses, Students & Support Staff

Matt B




Shift planning is essential for safe care, some people using a piece of paper others have their thoughts well arranged in their head, either way everybody does it.

This shift planner has been designed with newly qualified nurses and student nurses in mind but would be suitable for anybody to use.

You can download our Shift Planner for FREE. You are free to download, print and distribute our shift planner as you wish. You will need a PDF reader on your PC to download. 

The planner has been created with two primary columns, one for your main nursing priorities and one to remind you to hand over jobs to the next shift. It also features a small key and area for general notes. Due to limited space we have only included enough room to plan up to eight patients, if you need more we encourage you print doublesided.

We encourage you to make comments or suggestions in the comments section below. The most popular will be implemented in a version 2.

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