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Nursing or not…

Posted by --- on Tuesday 24 July, 2007

OK deep breath…. *inhales*, *talks really fast*, I’vequitmycourse. Glad that’s out in the open…

Its been a long time coming but last week I rang up and told them I was leaving. Since Christmas I’ve been thinking about it and every day has been hard to go in. I don’t think it’s for me. Some days are great but even after one of those days I don’t want to go back. Unless you are a nurse you have no idea how stressful it is! I found every day a struggle. The shifts are a nightmare, the constant assignments and written work, the presentations (unmarked but extremely stressful!), exams, family life, money worries, studying for 10 different things at the same time and unpleasant days. Honestly over the last year and a half, there was something every day that wasn’t nice – either a procedure, something emotional, another staff member comment (extremely common – as a student anyway) or a patient comment; some days had everything!

For example, my last (current) placement is on a ward. This ward has shifts – as do all of the areas (except Health Visiting) that I’ve been to. At this ward I can be working from 7am till 3.30pm one day and then the next I’d start at 2pm and finish at 9.30pm and the next I could be back at 7… When you have work to do when you get home and add on the travel time and a family and home its no joke but this is how the NHS works. Add the night shifts and you can see my point. I know nursing is a 24/7 dedication but it wears you out! You don’t stop when you’re there either. The staff all assume that they are doing more than everyone else and dig at each other or outright order students about or try to make them look and feel stupid. Of course not all of the staff do this but it only takes one (and there was more than one most of the time) to make each day unpleasant. As a nursing student in the NHS we are supposed to be supernumerary but it doesn’t happen. They are so short staffed that you are a pair of hands. I spent my time doing HCA work and trying to learn nursing as I went. It meant that on my last placement I was getting put down (openly) for not wanting to get my hands dirty (ha!) so trying to do things for everyone so that I didn’t upset anyone and then staying over to try to learn what I needed to – and remember we’re unpaid for this – while those that are getting paid and making it difficult for you are at home becuase they finished their shift exactly when they were supposed to and not a minute later. People just take the p! While I was doing this for over 30 hrs a week, I was trying to get a portfolio together and do reflective writing plus revise for 2 exams and doing two modules at university so trying to learn that (and boy is that lots! for instance on a Friday morning you could be learning everything about cancer (how it starts, spreads, treatments etc etc) and then on the afternoon you are learning ethics.. But they’re not just telling you for the sake of it. You need to learn it and know it. So you need to go home and research. Then when you go to work – I mean your placement… – you need to know what you are doing there so whatever you are doing that day you need to go home and learn about. That can be anything at all from what potassium levels should be to what is the best dressing for a glass cut. And every area is different! Go from one ward to another in the same hospital and they are different. Look after a patient under one surgeon and the post op procedure is completely different from another surgeon. Go to different hospitals and its like starting again!

So that’s the nursing side of things and I could add pages to that. On top of that I’ve got my home life which is unstable most of the time and to top it off my depression is back in full swing. Luckily this time I recognised it although I still thought I could cope; instead of waiting 3 yrs to go to the Dr’s though, this time it was only 5 mths. He put me on new pills that knocked me sideways. I was dizzy, sick couldn’t drive or walk some of the time! These effects were temporary and went after 2 wks but they seemed to drag. I’ve been taking them for just over a month now and they still have some side effects such as upset tummy, occasional feeling of things not quite real or happening too fast and a lack of libido and not getting aroused anyway. My GP is away on holiday for another 2 weeks so I’m on them till he gets back. Hopefully he will change them and I wont get any side effects. I was taking fluoxetine before and didn’t have these problems. For some reason though, over the last year or two, most medicines give me side effects. I take tablets for acne that bring me out in blisters, antibiotics that give me stomach cramps. It’s not easy – I feel sorry for my GP!

Anyway all of this also affects my course… As a nursing student you are “allowed” 15 days off over the 3 years. This includes study days. Anything extra has to be made up on placement. I’ve had a few small episodes of being ill and a couple of weeks off earlier in the year with a flu-like virus. I made up most of the time and had had 8 days off on my record which I had intended to make up so that I still had my full 15 days. Then I was ill with these pills so was on the box for over 2 wks. During those 2 weeks I decided I’d had enough. When I was well enough to think, I decided I liked being at home again. I did housework and spent more time with the kids. I could fetch them from school. K said it was lovely to have me home and he didn’t really want me to be a nurse coz he wanted to kiss and cuddle me all the time. It was also a relief not to have to do uni work. I couldn’t concentrate to do any but getting out of bed and not worrying about all of the work I had to get done was fantastic! Anyway, I didn’t go back last week when I could and rang in and said I thought I was leaving. My personal tutor asked me to intermit instead of quit and arranged for me to go in and see her yesterday but the car played up and I couldn’t go. I rang her to explain and while we were on the phone she told me that although we can have time off, we have to do a certain amount before the end of the term or we can’t go in to the next term. After the last 3 weeks, I hadn’t done enough days. We agreed that I’d intermit.

As it stands now, I haven’t officially quit but am intermitting until Jan 2008, if I’m not ready then I can go back in May 08 or Jan 09 which is my last date. To go back I have to arrange it all 3 mths in advance because I have to have all of my checks again – police and occupational health checks included – which is crazy and more finances wasted because I’ve already had them all!

So that’s it. I don’t know if I’ll go back. I don’t know if how I feel is my depression or what. At least now I have the option. Sometimes it goes through my head that I’ll miss it and want to do it. If I qualify I’d want to work in A&E or similar but I don’t think I’ve got a chance and will end up depressed and stressed and burning out on a ward like the one I should be on now with bitchy desk staff and HCAs, stressed out nurses and irate patients who have had to wait for their bed for 5+ hours …. There are no jobs for nurses in the UK and those jobs that come up have loads of applicants – I don’t think I’d stand a chance. My two best friends from Uni are planning to emigrate to Australia as soon as they can when they qualify but I don’t think we’d do that either.

In the meantime I’ve rediscovered graphics! I’m not great at it but I’m enjoying it. Me and the kids are making things together. I cook! I clean – though that’s not so great lol. I’m looking at books just to enjoy reading them. Since I started this back in 2003 when I went back to college I have only used books to learn from and had lost the enjoyment I got from reading – I’m hoping to find it again.
x

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