Be Resilient, Stay Brilliant

Student nursing takes many different skills: patience, compassion, dedication, the ability to plaster a smile on your face for 12 hours even when you’re exhausted, and more. But there is one skill I never thought would be so useful; resilience!

Resilience is when you’ve made a simple mistake and you can feel the embarrassment creeping up, but you carry on caring and learning. It’s what makes you keep going when someone doubts your ability. It is what you use to take in constructive (but sometimes not!) criticism on an essay, a presentation or an act of care. Resilience is the ability to bounce back!

I didn’t realize how important resilience was until I was having an incredibly busy day on my last placement on an acute medical ward. Myself and my mentor had ended up with a few very poorly patients, an astonishing amount of paperwork, delayed transport for a patient and some awkward available beds mix ups. To help out, I offered to call a unit an explain that patient they were transferring to us needed to be delayed slightly, due to late transport. I was greeted with what I describe as understandable anger and frustration. I spoke as calmly as possible, explaining that we were sorting the situation and that the patient would not be delayed much longer. The nurse I spoke to continued to berate me on the phone, and eventually hung up.

Luckily, within 10 minutes, we had managed to sort the entire situation out. No more angry phone calls for the day! I spoke to my mentor about what had happened, and she reassured me that it was just a tough situation and not to take it to heart. I still get slightly annoyed when I think back, but I have to remind myself that we are all just looking out for our patients. Sometimes that comes across in different ways! I think if I was a qualified nurse, I would have had a better understanding of how to deal with the situation. But I know for sure that I will not forget this phone call.

Remember; if you have experienced a situation like mine, please talk to someone about it! Whether it is your mentor, a fellow student, the PEF, your AA, friend, family dog etc. Difficult situations should be discussed, and you are allowed to vent. I can highly recommend writing a reflection about it!

Have you had any moments of resilience? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook/Twitter. Or, if you’re feeling creative, write us a blog post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for first year Student Midwives….

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU MADE IT!!! YOU ARE STUDENT MIDWIVES!

How are you all finding semester 1? Terrifying? Is life sciences sucking the life out of you? Have some lectures left you running for the hills crying into your pints at the SU? Have you actually got over the shock of being a student midwife yet and now the reality of being a student midwife is kicking in?

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Ok…so as a second year the horrors of that first semester are still fresh enough in my mind that I get goosebumps at the thought of how I felt this time last year but I am also sat here having survived so feel it may be a good idea to share how I got through it! I will add that maybe not everyone finds this first semester as a student midwife hard but I did and a lot of my cohort did so here are some tips that got me through to semester 2 in one piece and nearly sane!

  1. Don’t look too far aheadby this I do not mean do not plan…planning is GOOD (see point 2!) but do not look at your timetable for 4 weeks time and think ‘how can I possibly manage to do ALL THAT WORK?” . Think about what you need to do today and what you need ready for tomorrow. Have an awareness of assignments whilst you are reading stuff but don’t be consumed by it! One day at a time…your knowledge is building up one brick at a time so if you look too far ahead you will overwhelm yourself and you cannot possibly know what you do not know so just be with what you need to do now, today.
  2. PLAN –  you need to be organised! USE the time allocated to you for Guided independent study and independent study. If the timetable says 3 hours do 3 hours! It sounds silly but this will help you ensure you are doing the right level of work. I have a list of studying to do which I add to and cross things off as necessary! It helps me sleep at night not worrying I may be missing something i need to be doing!images-1
  3. Do not over think it (at this stage!)  At the moment you are bombarded with information and, lets face it, you’ve been accepted onto a highly competitive midwifery degree because you LOVE it and want to read and research EVERYTHING around it but you WON’T HAVE TIME! This was a downfall for me! More than once drafts would be returned to me as ‘too complicated’, ‘too complex’ etc because I didn’t want to just read and write about a nice straightforward pregnancy I wanted to research why a perfectly straightforward pregnancy and labour could result in a retained placenta WHY??? Goddamn it!!!! This is not the time for that level of ‘reading around the subject’-read what you have been told to read at this stage as you will have little time to read around the subjects if you want to get through the massive amount of material you need to get through and your FIRST YEAR is focusing on normality do not confuse yourselves by needing to know about the complex stuff….yet! Imagine your knowledge is being built and you need to embed the foundations nice and solidly before branching out further into the more complex stuff!
  4. Use everybody who offers support we are not just being nice we want to help you! Your AA, your PASS leaders, your mentors, midwives on your placement, your lecturers, your PEFs, your ward managers, your PEERS! They are all there as support – support each other! Knowing you are not alone in the struggle is such a bonding experience! Tell people if you are finding something so hard you are questioning your decision to train as a midwife! Take time to check out within yourself how you are feeling and reach out when you are struggling-learning to reflect on your experiences is important on  a lot of levels so the sooner you start the better!
  5. Be kind….to yourselves and others– please be kind to yourselves! Give yourself time off; spend time with your family and friends! Do non-midwifery related stuff! It is EASY to be consumed by this degree but self care is fundamental to resilience and good health so start as you mean to go on! Sleep well, eat well and invest in ‘you’ time it will benefit everybody around you especially you! Look at your cohort-are some people struggling? Reach out to them-this is not a competition we really can ALL succeed but its much nicer if we all help each other along rather than revel when people fall! We are training in a compassionate profession this starts with how we treat each other!
  6. Attend revision lectures – that is it really! Attend them-they are important!
  7. Use social media sparingly– so you did well and got 110% on your first assignment….AMAZING!!! Well done! Please consider why you would put this on Facebook! It’s super you’ve done well and you should be proud of yourself but tell your folks, tell your friends, shout it from the rooftop but jusocial-medast ask yourself why you are sharing that somewhere so publicly when you know others in your cohort are going to read it and maybe might not have managed to get such a great result! We all have areas we are strong in and areas we are not so strong in-support each other and celebrate successes but be mindful of how your fabulous result may make somebody feel who only managed 35% this time.
  8. Enjoy it! You will be frantic at times and wonder how you are ever going to get through your life sciences exam as well as hand in your poster assignment draft, get that presentation ready, complete your placement documentation plus have any kind of extra curricular life! But enjoy being a first year student midwife! Take time to stand on the 4th floor of uni place looking down Oxford Road at the buildings and the hustle & bustle and remind yourself you are a student at MANCHESTER a highly prestigious university! Go to the library and breathe in the smell of ALL THOSE BOOKS embracing how far you have already come and that YOU GOT CHOSEN! Do not be so consumed by panic that you lose sight of why you want to be a midwife. Oh….and learn to scan read! An essential skill!!!

 

From fear to maternity……..

So, before I embarked on this student midwife jaunt I was a counsellor for 15 years (I did ALL sorts of counselling-general, bereavement, play therapy with children and adults, couples, mindfulness groups, Neuro Linguistic Programming, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, chronic pain management groups……no therapy stone was left unturned I was the CPD queen!) and when I started to think about retraining in a completely different profession I could not IMAGINE myself ever doing certain…..ahem….invasive procedures! I could not visualise myself (not matter how much I meditated!) as anything other than a counsellor; could not picture myself in a uniform doing medical type things!shocked face

Some may argue that rooting around in peoples subconscious’ for 15 years is pretty invasive but I was so confident and comfortable as a counsellor I was at that joyful stage of awareness/learning known as ‘unconscious competence’ so I didn’t even need to think when I was with clients anymore I  just was!

So, how did I get to thinking about how being a student midwife is not obscure anymore? How did my concerns about carrying out physically invasive procedures (not just vaginal examinations but palpating women’s abdomens, venepuncture, being physically present at such a life changing event etc) suddenly pop into my consciousness again? Because, as I was clipping my name badge on my uniform on Thursday night to go on a night shift just FOUR MONTHS after starting placement the thought went through my head of “off I go to work again….” in a kind of same old same old/blasé way! WHATTTTTTTT?! HOW did this happen?! Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t thinking about it in a boring way-I was excited and apprehensive but it was NORMAL! ME putting on a uniform and heading out to ‘work’ to do all kinds of things I could not even imagine myself doing in September has become…..

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This makes me wonder about how adaptable we are as human beings-is it a survival mechanism in us as social creatures that we have to create normality so we can fit in to our new surroundings? Do we/I crave normality and therefore make the abnormal/obscure fit into our frames of reference so we can feel comfortable again?

I can remember whispering to my fellow new student midwives over a pint or 2 on a ‘meet & greet’ night out before the course started “how do you feel about taking blood and doing VE’s?”; some were apprehensive like me but others were worried about other things that hadn’t crossed my mind like talking to women and holding a baby….it made me realise we all have our own hang ups but we push our boundaries, expand our comfort zone, feel the fear and do it anyway and all the other cliché’s I can think of to get us through challenging experiences! As my mentors have got to know me they’ve realised giving me a choice is not an option as I will always find an excuse to not do something I am uncomfortable with mainly for fear of hurting the woman! I tell new mentors “don’t give me a get-out clause just tell me to do it” which so far has worked well! It is likely self reflection will remain a huge part of my learning and at times, standing outside of myself and observing the student midwife stood clipping her badge on her uniform getting ready for another night shift allows me the space to remember how fortunate I am to be given the opportunity of another amazing career at this time in my life and to not take for granted any shift or any experience-whilst orange is the new black so venepuncture is the new CBT…..I may not love it but its a necessary procedure;-) Self awareness is a gift and I feel a necessity in professions such as midwifery as how can we be resilient if we aren’t self aware? I guess that is for another blog though!