Making the most of your nursing degree

Hello to the lovely new student nurses, cohort of 2018! Welcome to the university of Manchester!!! I hope you are ready for a tough, rewarding, enjoyable and busy 3 years.

As a recent graduate of UoM, I thought it would be nice to make a lil list of how to make the most of your degree. It’ll be a mix of things I wish I had done, and things I’m glad I did!

1.) Join a society- just because you are a nursing student, and therefore not a “normal” student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join a society! It’s a great way to feel part of university life, make friends and allow time to focus on something not nursing related.

2.) Explore every opportunity- Throughout your degree, you will come across SO many opportunities to enhance knowledge/experience. They can come from the strangest places. I’d highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled and taking any opportunity handed to you! E.g) Nearly 3 years ago, I started as a blogger for this blog. It helped me secure a job, be involved with nursing recruitment and get my name known.

3.)  Reflect regularly- Time will fly by, and soon you will be balancing placement and academic work. It can be hard, and there will be days when you don’t think you can do it. Reflect on them! Whether its a structured reflection, a blog post (join our team!), a poem or whatever- reflecting on your experiences and learning from them will make you a better nurse.

4.) Spoke everywhere!- Once you start placement, you can start doing spokes where you experience a different area related to your placement for up to a week. E.g) if you are on a diabetic ward, you can spoke with the diabetic specialist nurse, the high-risk foot team or research nurses. Spokes help you understand the vastness that is the healthcare sector, and allow you to experience areas you might not otherwise be placed in.

5.) Don’t neglect university- During my degree, I watched many student nurses disengage with university somewhat because they viewed placement as more important. Uni and placement go hand in hand, you need one to succeed at the other!! All that academic work will be useful in placement. Go to seminars, discuss, do the extra reading. It will pay off, and it will make you a better nurse.

6.) Don’t suffer in silence – This degree is not easy. Students are prone to developing mental health problems. So are healthcare professionals. You are both! There is always someone to talk to: your AA, other university staff, your mentor, your PASS leaders, your friends, your GP, your family. Uni has a great counselling service, and Self Help is also excellent.

7.) You won’t like every placement, and that’s okay- Each nursing discipline tries to give students a wide range of placements. But there are issues- the number of available mentors is dwindling, so that can make placing students really hard. No matter where you are placed, you will learn something. Keep an open mind!

8.) Your appearance matters!- Your nursing uniform is therefor you for the next 3 years. Take care of it, keep it white otherwise people will start asking why it’s grey (I speak from experience). Don’t wash your trousers with it on the first wash. Get some comfy shoes, it doesn’t matter if they are ugly. If you need more uniform, go to Jean McFarlane student support and ask for spares. Ordering more is helpful, and not too expensive.

9.) Your life is more than just being a student nurse- It’s very easy to be consumed by this degree, because there is so much to occupy yourself with. But take time for yourself! The more time you have to relax and recharge, the better you will feel.

10.) Feedback!- No degree is perfect, ask anyone. It’s SO important to feedback any issues, concerns or things that you think worked well. Your student reps can do this on your behalf, but don’t feel like you can’t shoot someone an email too. We are all adults here!!

 

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Tops Tips for Staying Cool

As you have probably noticed, we’re currently experiencing a bit of a heatwave at the moment! This may mean ice cream and sunbathing for some, but for us student nurses it isn’t much fun! From stuffy uniforms and buses hotter than hell, to rushing around Image result for warm weatherensuring patients are hydrated whilst being dehydrated yourself.

So what the the top tips for staying cool in a heatwave?

  1. Sun cream!! Especially if you’re on community or commute via walking/cycling.
  2. Keep hydrated***. It’s obvious, and we all harp on about it, but the day will drag more and the heat will hit you harder if you don’t keep drinking cold water or juice. Make sure you have a bottle or jug nearby to remind you, or drink with your Image result for patient drinking waterpatients so you both get the benefit!
  3. Don’t over-exert yourself. You are the most important person to take care of in your life! Make sure you take regular little breaks for drinks + a sit down. I know it can be hard, but you’re no use to your patients if you aren’t on top form!
  4. Change into your uniform when you get to placement. It prevents you starting your shift in a sweaty mess, and allows your body to cool down on your way home.
  5.  Avoid too much caffeine. I know this sounds barbaric (I can’t survive a shift without coffee) but caffeine is a diuretic. That means you’re going to the toilet more, which leads to more water loss. Try not to overdo the coffee intake!
  6. Try and get some sleep! Nothing is going to make a hot day longer + harder than lack of sleep. If you need a fan, get one! I know I couldn’t cope without mine.
  7. ***Know the signs. Dehydration can be bad news, whether its staff or patients. Make sure you know the signs (headache, dry mouth, not urinating a lot) and keep an eye out. Let someone know if you or a patient is suffering.

Have you been coping with the heat? Send us any tips/tricks via email, Facebook or Twitter !

 

 

What do I keep in my pockets at placement?

Pocket

So I was planning my first day on placement…

I had my uniform ironed, lunch packed with a water bottle and Practice Assessment Document (PAD) in bag. My pin on watch, name badge and the RCN pin I got when I joined the union were set out on my dresser ready.

But what would I need in my pockets? A pen – definitely, a spare pen – probably…no definitely. My pocket usuals: lip balm and tissues, of course. A small notebook also seemed like a good idea – and it was. There will be lots of drugs and acronyms that you’ve never heard of and with no where to note them down they’ll go in one ear and out the other. You’ll also be given a tonne of door codes to get into the clinical room, the sluice, the linen cupboard and so on.

pensAs you progress through your training and depending on where you are placed you’ll pick up other bits and bobs like a pen torch, blunt ended scissors and a bottle of alcohol gel (essential if you’re out in the community visiting patients’ homes).

Chronic Clown Foot

Anti-Vom is the New Chic

Anti-Vom is the New Chic

A very important part of our nursing uniform is our shoes. Nursing is as much a physical sport as it is a caring vocation so you need comfortable, durable and sturdy footwear to withstand your days spent pacing a ward. Not to mention the elements they are exposed to… (Let’s just say there are things worse than mud that can end up dripping onto your unsuspecting foot) as the Uni has put it:

Appropriate shoes must be worn. These must be black, flat soled, full shoes not boots, which  cover the entire foot, have a non slip rubber sole, and be plain (not suede or canvas). It is not acceptable to wear any other type of shoe.

I have invested in some “King Health’s” on my last visit to Hong Kong (setting me back a good £3.70) which do have a slight clown-esque/butch police officer look to them but hey, they are outrageously comfy and have protected me more times than I would care to note from flying unwanted substances. So definitely a key part of your nursing arsenal is 1 pair of sturdy and preferably unattractive shoes.