What does it take to make me feel nervous? Well, this week I started week 1 (of 4) of my nursing elective at the beginning of Year 3 of my nursing degree. I haven’t opted for an easy one – an inner city Accident and Emergency department. As I walked from the train station towards the hospital, I was struck by the neighbourhood and the towering building in front of me getting ever closer. What awaited me at the front entrance was an assortment of police vehicles, armed police officers and ambulances rushing round to the main Emergencies entrance. I thought “oh dear, what have I done?”
However, once inside the safety of the building, the nerves began to ease. I spent my first shift (all 13.5 hours of it) in Resus – within a few hours I was helping treat an elderly patient knocked down by a car who had sustained 3 fractures to his leg. He was on his way to work at the time! Then came a female patient in acute respiratory distress with chest pain. The red telephone had alerted the department to her arrival (locally known as ‘Standby’). The receiving team quickly assembled, preparing everything in a calm and organised way. Later a male patient was whisked off for a CT scan – no time was wasted as we wheeled his trolley at breakneck speed along countless corridors in this vast hospital.
The department was under siege with patients needing attention by mid afternoon but the staff, whilst working under enormous pressure, never lost sight of what they were doing or the care and treatment required for each admission. Their calmness helped my nerves, and I didn’t feel too much like a fish out of water as a nursing student.
I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the shift, but as I sat on the train going home, I took a moment to reflect on all the good that had been done in very challenging circumstances. Despite tension and stress, there were smiles, lighthearted banter and little acts of kindness throughout the day.