This month I have had a short placement on the neonatal unit which feels very different to my placement on the children’s ward.
Despite not having the preference for working with neonates over children, and therefore having an inkling that I probably won’t choose to work in this environment when I’m qualified, I have learnt a lot about this area in just a short amount of time.
As with any area of care, there are typical reasons as to why people are admitted to hospital and require extra medical help as an inpatient. For infants, children and young people on the children’s ward this could be suspected meningitis, breathing difficulties, failure to thrive or a scheduled routine operation such as a tonsillectomy. For the short time that I have been on the neonatal ward, much of the assistance required from nurses is down to the baby having been born too early and the neonate just not being ready to greet the world. Therefore much of what is being done on the unit is replicating the womb-like conditions that the baby had been in in order for them to grow and develop as term babies would.
This requires a very different approach to nursing to that which can be found on the general children’s ward, and I think this is primarily rooted in patience. Whilst on the children’s ward, nurses try, as quickly as they can, to get patients to a stage where they can safely be at home recuperating amongst familiar people and surroundings (this generally involves chasing up pharmacy, doctors, scans, community nursing teams etc). Whereas in the neonatal unit, no amount of chasing up other members of the MDT (multidisciplinary team) will get the neonate home quicker, if the baby cannot support themselves safely and continue growing and developing under their own steam. Prematurity is not a disease but something that is primarily healed through time and replicating conditions which the baby should have been in. This is a big shift in thinking – and I think one which separates the two breeds of nurses until this can be understood.
I think that experiencing a broad range of placements through the child nursing course is so important to really understand what different approaches child health practitioners take and, more importantly, why. Another example of nursing approaches was gained from my placement with the health visitors. I found that they had to be particularly discerning and perceptive in their jobs; getting a real intuitive feel for the family situation, because safeguarding was such a huge portion of their role.
I feel that the broader the range of placements properly experienced, the better. Placements help us to both understand other child health facilitators and therefore have better, more productive working relationships with them when qualified, and as students they allow us to experience which approaches sit best with our developing way of working.
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, follow us on Twitter @FHSCEnews