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Studying nursing

studying nursingLisa Lawson takes you through a day in her life as a third year student nurse at Liverpool John Moores University.


Starting the day at this time is a pretty unusual thing for a student, but I’m up and looking forward to my early shift on clinical placement.

I’m in a gynaecology surgical ward, which deals with women’s health and it’s the last placement before I qualify as a staff nurse, so it is a bit nerve-racking but the nurses on the ward are really nice and very supportive.


I start my shift with a chat to the other nurses, then I go into ‘handover’, where the nurse who has been on duty that night tells nurses on the morning shift what has been happening with her patients. She also lets us know if we are expecting any new patients, and what they are coming in for. Our patients usually come in for surgery such as hysterectomies (removal of the womb) which will hopefully cure their condition.


I am working with a qualified nurse, who acts as my ‘mentor’, assessing and supporting me at the same time. She teaches me about everything to do with patients, such as medical problems, how to care for them and how to interact with other members of the team, including doctors, dieticians and physiotherapists.

We have seven patients to look after today, so we make sure they are all able to wash themselves before we do anything else. One lady had a major operation yesterday, so we get her a bowl of water, and give her a wash at her bedside. It’s not safe for her to the bathroom on her own as she’s taking morphine, a strong painkiller which leaves her feeling drowsy and disorientated.


We get together all the paperwork for a new patient who is going to theatre this afternoon for a hysterectomy. All her test results have to be in order, and there is a tick-list of everything that has to be done before she has her operation. She’s given a wristband with her name on it, and has to take off her jewellery and nail varnish beforehand.

We soon realise her chest x-ray is missing from her records and are in a bit of a panic because she is not coming in until 11am, and is in theatre at 2pm! We phone the x-ray department, which has the wrong details on her x-ray, so the patient will have to have another test. We hope she will be nice about it, although it’s not our fault!


Our patient comes in and is very nice. She sits and reads a book until she is called to x-ray. I go with her in the lift, just in case she gets lost. It gives me a chance to get to know her, and to chat to her to take her mind off the operation. This is an important part of the job, because although most people look calm on the outside, they are often very anxious and it helps to have someone to talk to.


Break for 30 minutes! What a relief, my feet are just starting to ache, and I need my tea and toast! I go to the staff room with another student, and have a chat about our training and life in general. But there’s no rest for the wicked and soon enough it’s time go back to the ward!


Back just in time to help with giving out the medicines. Only qualified nurses can give medicines because as well as knowing when to give them, you also need to know when not to. All the prescriptions are on computer, so we wheel it around the ward and mark off what has been given.


One of the patients who had an operation nearly a year ago is still having her wound dressed by the ward nurses because she has been getting recurrent infections and it has not healed properly. I go with my mentor into the treatment room where we get out all the equipment we need such as dressings, sterile water and gauze to clean it. I watch the nurse do the dressing and ask her questions afterwards.


A patient on the ward has a wound similar to the one I saw my mentor redress earlier. I have dressed wounds like this during my training, so she asks me if I would like to do it while she supervises me. I am a bit nervous because I am new to the ward, but the method all comes flooding back to me and I am really happy when I have done it safely. The patient is grateful and says thank you.


Time to go home. It was a good day. I felt as if I made a difference by talking to the nervous patient, and treating the other patients. It can be hard work, but it is very rewarding and I would recommend it to anyone!

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