Leaving a placement on your last day is never easy, but this one had to be the hardest goodbye.
Armed with customary leaving treats for the staff that have been so helpful and patient, especially with my shocking Sinhalese, I went around the units and said my final farewells during my lunch break. I thought it would be me talking the whole time and saying how grateful I was but I was so touched by how many staff said ‘Thank You’ to me! It is such a rewarding job being a Student Nurse, you get to dart around helping whoever needs help when they need it and be an extra support to patients when they’re feeling their most vulnerable. I relish every moment of it, and to hear that the staff are not only appreciative, but also thankful for my input is really humbling.
I’ve been in Paediatrics this week, which was a steep learning curve – especially dealing with my first tantrum; a young girl who refused and refused the bright red super sugary strawberry flavoured cough syrup, to the point that she was spitting it out at her parents, her nurse and myself. Don’t get me wrong, we have uncooperative patients in adult nursing, but this was a whole new level of refusal that has left me with mild tinnitus in one ear.
The immediacy of children’s nursing also hit home with me. Because there is less of the person in total, illness can take hold of their tiny bodies so much faster than in adults. Dengue for example, which is a very common parasite-transmitted viral infection that causes platelet levels to drop; this can lead to all sorts of catastrophic results. In children this drop in platelet counts can happen so fast it’s not uncommon to be running a full blood count 3+ times a day. Looking after the tiny humans has made me realize why it’s a separate degree and again has given me a great admiration for my colleagues back in Manchester.
Saying goodbye to the adorable patients was heartbreaking as well! Because of my distinctly foreign appearance a lot of the children were very wary of me and creating a comfortable, relaxed relationship with people who were immediately suspicious of you was a great challenge. Thankfully I have a rather good knowledge of children’s TV shows (I take my Godmother duties very seriously) so I managed to find a bit of common ground.
Going through my PAD with my mentor who has been with me every step of the way, always feeding back and finding new opportunities for me, was really tough. I couldn’t have done this placement without her and to hear positive feedback on how you practice, especially when everything is literally foreign to you, feels so satisfying. Doing this whole thing on my own made me so nervous but having a supportive mentor added so much security to my experience in placement, I really felt able to grab the bull by the horns and get stuck in.
Because of my near-constant questions and explanations and discussions, I’ve been invited back next week for a consultation with the Nursing board of the hospital to discuss potential changes to procedure and nurse education based on my experiences. Taking what I’ve learnt from Manchester and the amazing teaching staff we have access to and applying it to Nurses all the way over here in Sri Lanka to allow them to work more effectively, makes me so proud of our course and our university. These 248 hours have been in equal parts testing, exhausting and awesome and I wouldn’t change one moment, even though there were times I’d be tired and lonely and homesick and would collapse into bed feeling sorry and weepy, having the Nurses and Patients waiting for you each day ready to learn something new was amazing. All I can truly say after 6 wonderful weeks is Thank You to all the staff and patients who made this experience so unforgettable.