Lessons learnt from placement

Emma Wolton

Faculty: Health, Social Care & Education
Department: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Child Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

4 April 2014

My first placement of the second year is now complete; therefore it is time to reflect upon what I have learnt over the last two months.

Untitled PageI have come to the conclusion that the bigger the mistake made, the more you learn from it. So below are some of the biggest lessons I have learned on my placement.

One of my biggest mistakes was managing to break two out of the three blood gas machines in the hospital (the third was already out of order, otherwise that would have probably had a similar outcome too!) by letting the blood samples clot, resulting in clogged-up machines. Not my finest moment! To be fair to myself I had not been told that when transporting these blood samples to the relevant machines they had to be continuously agitated (rolled between the fingers) to stop the clotting process. I now won’t forget to make sure I agitate them whenever asked to take a sample.

Another big learning curve for me was to make sure that I gave children full explanations of what I would be doing to them before I began. I learnt this after attempting to apply some ‘magic’ cream (Ametop) to a three-year-old boy who had come in with some breathing difficulties. The doctor had asked that we prepare him to have a cannula put in, in case he needed IV salbutamol (a drug to help open the airways in breathing difficulties) if a nebuliser wasn’t enough. I had managed to turn the corner with this little boy after he had come in quite irritable and grumpy (‘No’ was his favourite word, no matter what the question!). Having taken his obs several times he had become quite happy with me. I brought over the magic cream and dressing for it and said that I was going to be putting it on. I started applying the cream, at which point he got himself into a real state, crying and getting incredibly worked up; not wanting to have the cream on at all. I could see that this was not the best thing for someone with breathing difficulties but felt torn as it was what the doctor had asked for. At the time, I could have kicked myself because something as small and easy as explaining what and why I would be doing, would have completely avoided the situation. But as I said, we learn from our mistakes.

My last big lesson was not to pre-judge people. At one point on the ward, we had a flurry of teenage girls come in as a result of attempted suicides or having expressed suicidal thoughts. I had never come across young people with any form of mental health problems/self-harm/suicidal tendencies, so had no idea how to approach them. My only real reference had been television soaps and dramas. The girl who particularly changed my view also had psychotic episodes whereby she heard and saw things that were not there. I realised by talking to her throughout our continuous observations over the shift that she was, in fact, a normal teenage girl and what happened to her and her feelings were just a part of who she was. I also realised how much I could help by talking and distracting her, despite not being an expert in this area.

So these are the lessons that I will take with me onto my next placement, in a neonatal unit.

Until next time…

Emma is a 2nd Year Child Nursing Student at our Chelmsford campus. To keep up to date with Anglia Ruskin Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education please follow us on Twitter! @FHSCEnews
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