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My ‘average’ day as a Student Nurse

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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.

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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.

RELATED: 10 FACTS ABOUT BEING A STUDENT NURSE.

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.

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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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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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