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The University of Southampton

Challenging aspects

Now that you have been on a few placements you may have been faced with a few more challenging aspects. We asked our students to share some of their experiences, and offer useful suggestions.


...everyone else had been in placement for a month, but I'd just gone onto the ward, and then the nurse said, "Oh can you just go and take that cannula out?  Can you just go and take that catheter out?"  And I thought, "Oh my God, I've never done this in my life." ... some made you feel a bit stupid.  When she told me to take that catheter out and I said, "Oh I've never done that before," she just kind of gave me a two sentence explanation of how to do it and then walked off.  And I just stood there thinking, "Oh my God."



Sometimes when I was in the anaesthetic room...I was put on the monitoring and there was not a lot else I felt I could do, and I'd just felt a bit of a spare part watching all the time...when I was in theatre, there were healthcare assistants who would go and fetch things...and sometimes they'd ask me to go and get something and I wouldn't know where it was or what it was...I felt a bit useless...after I'd been going through the same things over and over I felt more useful, ‘cos I could do things...I mean obviously you can't help that, but...I did feel a little bit like a spare part, or a bit useless, just because I didn't know some of the things.  But it can't really be helped, I guess.



When you have absolutely no idea what you're meant to do and everyone around you is doing something. There was my fourth day, I still was kind of, "Eek," and there's a patient and they had a massive vasovagal...I was taking the patient's relative to see them, and as I walked in, and I was aware that they were feeling quite sick, and then they went unconscious as they were throwing up.  And the relative was there watching it saying, "Help him."  And I said, "You need to move."  I rang the emergency buzzer and then everybody ran in and they were saying, "Bleep the doctor.  Start suction."  I didn't know what I was doing; I just sort of stood there thinking, "Um I'm not helpful, I'm going to go."...I had done the right thing, in hindsight.  But...that was completely alien, I had no idea what to do, I had no idea how to handle that.



...towards the end of the that I'd learnt the basic running, I wanted to learn more about the drugs they were giving and things like that.  But then most nurses would say, "Oh I don't like students coming on a drug round with me."  I don't know why.  They'd say, "No you just do what you're doing."



To be honest, I did feel very used.  One night shift I basically did the whole of the work for the whole of the night for a six bed bay.  And I certainly didn't feel I was supernumerary.  I did feel I was a very important part of the numbers for that ward.  I'd say three or four shifts out of the ones I did in that four week period I went home almost in tears because of the frustration of feeling quite used.


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