Yesterday marked the end of my first two weeks as an RN and my final supernumerary shift. It’s been a whirlwind, but I thought I would take the time to reflect on it and give you an overview of what I have done, what’s been good and what’s not so good.
My new role is on an infectious diseases (ID) ward, which specialises in infectious and tropical diseases, HIV and rheumatology. The main unit is made up of 2 small bays and both neutral and negative pressure side rooms along with one quarantine isolation room (a negative pressure isolation room with an anteroom for PPE/decontamination. We have close links to the HIV day centre and we also have the UK’s only High-Level Isolation Unit which is used to provide care to patients with highly infectious diseases (more information and pictures here). This is not used all the time and when it is in use, half the ward closes in order to staff the HLIU.
My first two days were corporate induction days, learning all about the trust and covering some mandatory training. During this time, I had the stress of organising my uniform and ID badge – it was a little frustrating that this sort of thing isn’t organised prior to induction. The rest of the week I did early shifts on the ward where I was predominantly doing e-learning (of which there is a lot!), working alongside the practice educator and getting to know the team. I attended the MDT meeting and ward round for both the ID and HIV teams which gave me a good insight into the service and structure, I also attended the hospital bed planning meeting which was an eye-opening experience.
This week, I worked alongside one of the Junior Sisters in looking after a group of patients. Typically, we manage the care of 3-5 patients each. I really enjoyed these days, getting to grips with the demands and expectations of my role. One of the high points was caring for a retired nurse, who was full of praise – it was a real pleasure and confidence boost. Low points were the frustration of having to be signed off as competent on (seemingly) everything! Having spent the last two years doing just this, I now have to do it all over again (there must be a better way!?). I can see that relying on others to supervise me or carry out tasks on my behalf is going to be a real challenge in the coming weeks, so I’m determined to be proactive and get as much signed off as possible, as soon as possible!
On my final supernumerary day, the practice educator had arranged for me to spend the day with the HIV team. I spent the morning in clinic with the nursing team, who provide a very busy one-stop service (both planned and drop in) for those living with HIV and those wishing to be tested for HIV. The scope of practice there was huge; providing routine bloods, check-ups, medication, counselling, clinical investigations, research, screening, sexual health advice and more! Late morning, I met one of the HIV nurse specialists who took me out to see a patient in their own home, followed by a walk-in patient in clinic and the MDT meeting and ward round. He was so passionate about his role and such a wonderful patient advocate; it was inspirational to work alongside him. This was the highlight for me so far – I really connected with the way the HIV staff work; it’s truly person-centred, with significant mental health/psychological overlap. It felt more like friends and family interacting than patients and staff.
Over the last two weeks, I have left late every day, been non-stop busy, had outstanding tasks at the end of my shift and dreamt about work almost every night. Having said that, I have also been made to feel very welcome and had the privilege of supporting some incredible patients, whose bravery astounds me. I’ve left every day feeling that I made a difference to someone’s day and feeling inspired to learn and develop. I have no doubt there will be some very challenging times ahead of me, but I’m overwhelmingly proud to finally be able to say “Hello, my name is Rosie and I’m the Registered Nurse looking after you today”!
Written by Rosie Schofield (@SchofieldRosie on Twitter), a Registered Adult Nurse based in London.