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Are you ever ready for your first Cardiac Arrest?

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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?

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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.

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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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Nurses don’t need bursaries – here are four reasons why

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Until 2017, students studying nursing in England received a bursary and paid no fees. The bursary was paid by the NHS and was a remnant of the days when nursing students were employed by the hospitals where they trained. By the end of the 1990s, all nursing education moved to universities, but the bursaries remained.

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The UK government’s decision to stop bursaries in England was met with protests, especially by the Royal College of Nursing. Proponents of the bursaries argued that it would exacerbate current nursing shortages. We need to attract more candidates, not drive them away, they argued, especially older women from lower socio-economic groups.

Only the bursary system did not solve nursing shortages and it was not flexible enough to respond to changing demands. When we needed more nursing students, the NHS did not necessarily have the funding to provide bursaries. Contracts between universities and the NHS had a cap on the numbers of nursing students funded.

I propose four reasons why bursaries for nursing students aren’t needed.

1. We can’t afford it and they don’t need them

The NHS can no longer afford the scheme, especially with the proposed expansions in the numbers of nursing students. Nursing students, along with other university students, have access to student loans that cover their tuition fees and provide them with a living allowance.

Nurses, almost uniquely, are virtually guaranteed a job on graduation and if they earn £24,000 annually – the middle of the lowest pay band for a staff nurse – they only need to repay £11 a week.

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2. Nursing students are not employees

It is often thought that nursing students are working as employees of the NHS while they are in hospital. They are not. They are “supernumerary”, which means they are not included in the workforce. This recognises that they are students and that they are there to learn. They may have less opportunity than other students to work and earn money to support themselves, but this is surely offset by almost guaranteed employment on graduation?

3. Nursing is not a vehicle for social engineering

Some worry that older women from lower socio-economic groups, those who have had families or are seeking a late or second career, will find it hard to study nursing. But are these concerns justified? The initial introduction of student loans did not reduce the numbers of applicants from lower socio-economic groups to university. Why should it affect nursing?

We need a nursing workforce that is diverse in gender, ethnicity and age. But someone entering nursing late may only work for a short time in the NHS. This is not good value for money if that money is being spent by the NHS.

Nursing and the NHS do not exist as vehicles for social engineering where everyone who ever wanted to be a nurse can become a nurse. Both nursing and the NHS exist to provide a service: patient care.

4. We’ll get the most motivated students

While bursaries were available, both nursing students and nursing lecturers reported that some students were only studying nursing for the bursary. They had no intention of entering nursing on graduation and, in fact, many nursing students never enter nursing.

With an end to bursaries and an end to the cap on numbers, we have a much more flexible system that can respond to the need for nurses. The issue remains the availability of places for nursing students in the NHS. But universities can now negotiate with any part of the NHS they wish – not just their local hospitals – and can pay the NHS for training places. This should provide the flexibility needed and an incentive to the NHS to provide, and even compete to provide, the best training places.


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. The Conversation

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Students need to be involved in the vote on NHS pay

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Students should be included in the vote on the proposed NHS pay deal – because it directly affects their future.

In March the Government, alongside healthcare unions, announced ‘modernisation’ of the Agenda for Change pay structure and revealed a radical overhaul of both the structure and terms and conditions of the pay system.

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However, many have highlighted issues with the proposed pay deal.

The official recommendation from all unions, except the GMB, is that the deal should be accepted and unions are set to ballot their members later this month. But, only current NHS employees who are under an Agenda for Change contract will be included in the vote – this excludes the majority of healthcare students.

Student nurses alongside student radiographers, physiotherapists student and other allied healthcare professionals are the healthcare professionals of tomorrow and the proposed NHS pay deal will have a direct impact on their future.

As qualified professionals it is important we have our students on our side, students are united, numerous, have immense voting power and the ability to change the outcome of any vote.

Image: © Monkey Business

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The Royal College of Nursing has admitted it is ‘frustrating’ for those wanting to vote on their future, as currently, the only way for students to get involved is to ensure eligible members exercise their right to vote.

Katharine Youngs, Student RCN Trade Union Committee Member, said; “I know that not being able to vote in the consultation is very frustrating – especially if you know that you want to work in the NHS when you qualify.
 
“But the deal proposes changes to current NHS contracts of employment, and not future contracts, so we cannot vote on something that doesn’t apply to us right now, in the same way that RCN members in the independent sector won’t be able to vote.
 
“As student members, we can still get involved in the consultation by spreading the word about the deal in our universities, and help both fellow students and NHS staff in our placements to understand the benefits we will experience in the future.
 
“You can encourage those RCN members working in your NHS placements to take part in the online consultation when it opens on 23 April. You can also attend the pay events around the country to hear more about the deal and ask any questions as well as visiting the RCN website for full details of the deal.

But, Richard Betley, a Student Nurse and RCN Member, disagreed with the official stance and feels that students need to be actively involved; “As paying members of the RCN, students should be included in any votes which directly affect their future. The pay deal is structured over a 3 year period so any student currently studying nursing will qualify during this period.

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Student nurses to receive ‘political lobbying lessons’

The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.

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Nursing students will learn how they can work with MPs to promote the nursing profession in a new training session organised by the RCN.

Members of the RCN’s student committee and student information officers – the RCN’s representatives in universities – will learn their way around the UK parliament and the government from the UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service.

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The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.

The RCN’s public affairs team will talk through the college’s approach to engaging with parliamentarians, especially the crucial role members can play. The team will explain different tactics and approaches students can take as well as what they can ask MPs to do to show their support for nursing staff in their constituencies.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “To work effectively, any union must be able to engage MPs and ministers.

“We know our members make the most powerful advocates for the profession. When frontline nursing staff sit in front of parliamentarians, you can see they listen.

“It’s through the hard work of members that vital issues such as safe staffing, harassment and health policy reach the top of the agenda.

“When nursing faces challenges on every front, the RCN wants to make sure our advocates are fully-equipped.”

Charlotte Hall, chair of the students’ committee, said: “Student nurses represent the future of the profession. Learning to engage with MPs is vital if we are to effectively shape that future and ensure the best possible care for patients.

“With these skills, committee members and student reps will be able to help other nurses make their voices heard on behalf of the profession and patients.”

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