Nursing Placement during COVID-19

Chloe Jackson, a first-year Nursing student writes about her placement term at RGU. She spent her first four weeks as a student nurse at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) and her next four weeks involved an online simulated placement.

Hi there! My name is Chloe and I am a first-year nursing student, here’s my experience of my first ever nursing placement. It was held at the Adult Short Stay Medical Ward at ARI. It was for a duration of 4 weeks as opposed to the usual 8 weeks, due to the pandemic. To make up for the reduced time, we carried out a virtual placement that I will speak more about in this blog.

Preparing for the placement

As you can imagine, I had an array of thoughts, feelings and questions whirling in my head prior to my first day. I hardly got a wink of sleep the night before. My emotions were very mixed. I was both nervous and excited. It was the unknown that nerved me the most. I kept having questions like, ‘What will I see? What will I be doing? What will I need to know? How will the pandemic impact my placement?’

But I knew that preparation was key. So I made myself a checklist:

  • Iron my uniform and prepare a spare uniform just in case.  
  • Organise my fob watch.  
  • Set aside a mini hand gel and hand cream to put in my uniform pocket.  
  • Pack a multicoloured pen and notepad.  
  • Fill hydration bottles (very important because the temperature inside the ward is really hot).  
  • Prepare snacks and lunch.  

First day of the Nursing placement

Although I hardly slept that night, the adrenaline in my body was pumping. I felt like I was ready for anything. When I arrived at the ward, I was pleasantly surprised that there were other student nurses starting on the same day. It was comforting because we could be nervous together! We were shown around the ward. The Acute Short Stay ward receives patients from the Acute Medical Ward and the Emergency Department. We were taught the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procedure which we had to undertake before going into each patient room.

I had a great first day. I was very pleased that I achieved taking a cannula out on my very first day. It was such a novelty initially, but as the weeks went on I was taking out several cannulas on a daily basis. Gradually, I learnt and achieved something new every day.

Chloe Jackson, a first-year Nursing student at RGU

Clinical Tasks I Performed

Chloe Jackson, a student nurse at RGU, in a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during her placement at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI).

During my nursing placement, I observed various conditions such as toxicology, mental health-related conditions, COPD, alcohol withdrawal, acute coronary syndrome, SEPSIS, GI complaints, headaches and collapsed adults.

Some of the duties I carried out included taking cannulas out, personal care, taking blood pressure, measuring O2 saturation, ECG respiration, temperature, heart rate and consciousness. I also got to take a bladder scan and collect samples and measurements of bodily fluids. I also performed a Dalteparin injection which I was super proud of after doing this skill for the first time. I remember doing a wound dressing using the Aseptic non-touch procedure. The patient fed back that I did a better job than the nurse the day before and he gave me 9/10!

I was also very fortunate to have several observation experiences and learn from a multi-disciplinary team. Here are some of activities I got to do:

  • Observation with the liver nurse
  • Ward round with the doctors
  • Observation with psychiatry
  • Various scans (head, heart and lower body organs)
  • A lumbar puncture procedure
  • Reuses trolley emergency

Nursing placement during COVID-19

The pandemic did not have a major impact on my placement apart from the experience being cut from 8 weeks to 4 weeks. I was one of the lucky ones that got to go on placement at all, unlike many people in my year. And I am very grateful for that.

Wearing PPE for 12 hours a day was hot and stuffy. However, I was very fortunate to have access to the correct PPE to preserve my safety and those who I was working with, as there were occasions when we were exposed to patients with Coronavirus.

Chloe Jackson, a first-year Nursing student at RGU

As I mentioned before, our nursing placement was cut short and the remaining time was made up by doing a simulated experience. This involved us doing various tasks within groups of people from our class. The tasks were related to online health care.

During the first week of the simulated practice, we were asked to observe the virtual community of Robdon via CampusMoodle. The virtual community is made up of fictional families. We were provided with details about people in each family. The group I was working with chose to answer the questions about a family at the Mobile Homesite.

Chloe Jackson, a first-year Nursing student at RGU

The aim of the task was to consider the area information we were presented with and write in detail what we knew about Robdon. We were to identify and highlight the health implications of living in that area; for instance, their social, economic, environmental and service provision. We then compiled this into a PowerPoint presentation and I submitted the work as the group’s coordinator. This electronic learning tool has been produced by the online development team at my RGU and has been super useful for us.

A picture of the Robdon map, a simulated online nursing placement completed by Chloe Jackson at RGU.

Thanks to everyone who has been involved in my nursing placement experience so far. I am certainly looking forward to my next placement and learning more practical skills that I can utilise in the workplace!

Chloe Jackson

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