David Rothwell is a second year Adult Nursing student who certainly lives up to the reputation of student nurses being some of the busiest on campus. Below, David documents a week in his life, beginning it with placement in a chemotherapy suite and ending it on a trip with the Army Medical Reserves…
Today was the penultimate day of my placement in a chemotherapy suite. It had been a long 15-week placement and I felt that I had reached the limit of my interest and learning. The day was spent assessing patient’s toxicity levels and assisting my mentor in delivering their chemo. 10 to 6 flew by pretty quick and I went home looking forward to my final day.
My evening consisted of revising for the upcoming pharmacology exam, where we have to memorize all indications, contra-indications, side effects, monitoring requirements and mechanisms of action for a list of around 16 medications. I had planned on going to the local boxing gym at 19:00 to 20:30 but sometimes the laziness comes out on top and instead, my wife and I ate falafel wraps and watched Game of Thrones.
From 7:00 to 9:00 I flicked through my pharmacology flashcards in the front room, with a coffee, repeatedly trying to etch the answers into my memory, to some success. When 9:00 came around I drove to my final day of placement, determined to find time to complete my sign off paperwork.
The chemotherapy suite is a fairly straightforward day unit; patients must be physically well enough to attend and if they are displaying any signs of critical illness, have deranged bloods, excessive toxicity symptoms or are simply worn out by their therapies, they will be either admitted or rescheduled for a later date.
As I am more interested with the critical care element of nursing, this isn’t an area that I’m interested in going in to after graduating despite being overawed by the resilience and fight of the individuals who are fighting such a cruel disease.
Within the last three hours of my day (time assigned to finishing paperwork) two patients on our team simultaneously reacted badly to their chemotherapy. My mentor and I had our hands full and the hours flew by as we repeated observations (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature etc.) and ECGs, ran for sick bowls and followed Sepsis pathways, just in case. By the time I left at 18:00, my mentor had brilliantly controlled the situation and I left feeling very energized and like I had spent my time valuably, even if my paperwork wasn’t completed.
On Wednesday, I got up around 8:00, made a coffee and did yet more revision. I went into my placement from 12 to 1 for my sign off interview and to complete my paperwork. I was happy to know that I had done well and upon reflection, I realised that I had gained great assessment and communication experience whilst there.
I ran a slow 5 miles that evening in preparation for a 10k I signed up for in a few weeks. More Game of Thrones followed obviously.
I got the tram from my flat in Chorlton to the University library on Thursday morning with plans to revise for the Health Psychology exam and meet my presentation group. My group’s meet-up session fell through, which was a bit disappointing as it takes place 8 days after this day, but we rearrange, and all is well. I revise for a few hours and go home in the late afternoon and make a “Hearty Veg Soup” from BBC Good Food; always a winner.
That evening I go to boxing again and we do some light practice sparring. Sparring is always a little bit nerve-wracking, especially when you don’t know the other guy. I find boxing a great way to keep fit and I’m yet to leave a session not feeling an endorphin rush.
I stay home on Friday, my wife has gone to work, and I spend the morning revising, eating breakfast and watching more Game of Thrones.
I’m taking part in an AMSTTE competition this weekend (Army Medical Services Tactical Training Exercise) and spend the early afternoon shaving off my beard and packing my kit to leave at 16:00. I grab my kit and hop in an Uber to the Army Reserve Centre. Me, the rest of the 8-person team, the staff instructor and our driver head to Catterick military base to sign in to the exercise. We get our heads down in army issued tents at around 22:30 and look forward to the competition the following day.
I joined the Army Medical Reserves whilst doing my access course before Uni to make some extra money and gain some medical experience. The AMSTTE team is made up of a doctor, an experienced A&E nurse, a midwifery student and other people with great knowledge and experience. I’ve found the Reserves an excellent way to network within my future profession and gain some valuable insight into specific areas of practice. I’d highly recommend any current and prospective nursing students to look into it.
We spent the day navigating an exercise area in full combat equipment, patrolling between 12 medical and combat relevant scenarios. These range from attacking a fixed position to treating and evacuating numerous patients from an RTC scene. Each stand has instructors who score your military and medical skills.
The team got up at 05:30 and set off to complete an obstacle course followed by a 2-mile run over hills and through waist-high puddles whilst carrying a weighted stretcher. The day finished with awards and a BBQ before driving back to Manchester. We ended up coming 8th; not terrible for a fresh team apparently.
It feels good to have finished one chapter of my nursing degree and be moving onto the next. I have two weeks of exams and assessments, followed by an 8-week elective placement in A&E, which I’m really looking forward to, albeit a bit nervous. I also feel lucky to be able to take part in exciting experiences through the Army Reserves whilst also finding time to relax.