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Preparing for Your Placement in Accident & Emergency

Matt B



Accident & Emergency is one of the busiest places in the hospital. Your placement will be a unique opportunity to experience emergency and unscheduled care in a controlled environment.

During your placement you will be exposed to a multitude of medical conditions and it will be a unique opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and gain confidence in dealing with these.

A&E placements can also include insight visits to a variety of areas including; fracture clinics, plaster rooms, critical care areas and your local ambulance service.

Some A&E Departments are a combined adult and paediatric service – you may be expected to care for these patients too.

What to Expect from your Placement

Accident & Emergency will include a variety of patients from a variety of specialities who will be suffering from a variety of conditions – A&E, if nothing else, is varied and like the proverbial ‘box-of-chocolates’.

Accident and Emergency Departments are generally split into multiple areas, this is a brief overview of what you can expect in each area. 

Resus – Patients who have been brought in with a life threatening illness or are likely to require input from intensive care. This can include; cardiac arrests, trauma patients, overdoses, respiratory arrests etc.

Triage – Patients are assessed, usually by a Nurse, on their arrival to the department – this will include a set of baseline observations and a brief history. The patient will then be signposted or ‘streamed’ to the correct area – this will determine the patients priority and time they will be seen in.

Majors – Usually for patients who have attended with a complex or urgent medical condition such as COPD or heart failure. Elderly patients with limited mobility tend to be seen in this area.

Minors – Patients who have attended A&E with minor illness and ailments such as coughs, colds and vomiting and are ambulatory.

Injuries  – Patients who have attended with suspected broken arm or leg will be seen in the injuries area. This area is usually closely linked with x-ray and plaster room.

First and foremost, do not worry – you will be surrounded by very experienced Nurses, Doctors and allied healthcare professionals. A&E, generally speaking, is a very safe and controlled environment with very experienced and senior staff at the helm.

Your mentor won’t expect you to have an in-depth knowledge of A&E interventions if this is your first placement but they will expect you to ask questions and participate in care.

Expect to deal with a lot of sensitive issues while on placement, some of these might ‘hit close to home’, communicate with your mentor and ensure patient confidentiality at all times.

Preparing For Your Placement

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your Accident & Emergency Department placement;

Try and visit your placement before you start. Emergency Departments can be intimidating places. Visit the area you have been assigned to before you start and ask if there is anything you should be aware of prior to starting.

Identify your learning needs and outcomes. Identify these early and be aware of the skills you want to develop or learn – this will help you get the most from your placement.

Brush up on your anatomy and physiology. Familiarise yourself with the physiology and function of core systems, it will bode you well.

Look at ABCDE assessments and their importance. This systematic approach is used for everything within Critical Care – everything from handover to invasive treatment is based around an ABCDE model.

Research triage systems. Every hospital uses a different triage system although most are based around the Manchester Triage System.

Getting The Most From Your Placement

You’ll either love your A&E placement or you won’t. So it is important that during your placement you focus on transferable skills you can learn and/or improve on in this area, relish the opportunity to deliver global (holistic) care in this environment and understand the complexities of why patients attend A&E.

Spend time with all members of the team; Doctors, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Physios, Social Care, Specialist Nurses and the countless others!

Download the BNF app and consider buying a Clinical Skills Nursing Survival Guide.

The final and most important piece of advice I can give you is to ask questions and get involved. 

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Lucozade is no longer as effective at treating hypoglycemia

James M




Due to changes in its recipe and a significant reduction in glucose, Lucozade will not be as effective as a treatment for hypoglycemic patients.

Recipe changes to Lucozade Original Energy product line mean it will no longer be as effective at treating hypoglycemic patients – this is due to a 50% reduction in glucose based carbohydrates. Healthcare Professionals should seek guidance from their local specialist team on alternative treatment protocols.

This change applies to all Lucozade Energy Flavours. New products started appearing on shelves in April 2017. However, for a short time, both the new and old recipe will be available.

Previously, 100ml of Lucozade Original contained 17g of carbohydrate; this was reduced to 8.9g in April 2017.

According to, patients who experience a hypoglycemic episode are advised to consume 15-20g of sugar when treating low blood sugar, but this will no longer be equivalent to 100ml of Lucozade.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory, which also makes Ribena and Orangina, among other drinks, is lowering its sugar content by replacing these sugars with low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame.

You can also visit for more information on Lucozade’s changing nutritional values or speak to your local diabetes specialist team.

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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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