Episode two follows second-year student TK, who spent six years selling beds before changing career to train as a children’s nurse. Second-year Aimee reveals how treating stroke patients is especially poignant for her, and squeamish Kelly has to overcome her fears on her first shift as she witnesses an injection.
With young children of his own, TK finds the long hours on the ward particularly challenging. TK is on an eight-week clinical placement in Birmingham hospital’s specialist liver ward. As his 13-hour shift begins, TK has a new patient to settle in - five year old Caleb. TK says: “If you take an interest and open up to people, they do the same back to you.”
Checking vital signs of such young patients requires a light touch. When TK’s patient comes round from anaesthetic, TK struggles to comfort him. TK quickly learns that sometimes, only mum will do, he says: “It’s just a lesson that sometimes there’ll be things that I can’t do. It’s actually quite difficult. I near enough cried.”
In Birmingham’s Good Hope hospital, second-year Aimee starts work on the stroke unit. For the next two months, Aimee will work 12-hour shifts under the watchful eye of her mentor.
Aimee says: “It can be quite difficult, you can find it quite hard. Because sometimes they (the patients) do pull on your heart strings and it is quite uncomfortable.”
For Aimee, treating stroke patients is especially poignant as her grandfather suffered a stroke before he passed away. She says: “Instinctively, I did all that I could. I called the paramedics, but before they got there, he passed away. CPR didn’t work and by the time they got there, he was gone. But I thought, ‘If I can do it for him (perform CPR), there’s a good chance I can do it for somebody else’. I know that by doing that, I’ll make him proud. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to save his life.”
At the University of Salford, after eight weeks of theory the nurses are about to face real patients for the very first time. At 29, Kelly is amongst the older of the new students. Her first placement is in dermatology.
Kelly says: “I can be very, very squeamish.” For the next two weeks, Kelly will be forced to face her fears or fall at the first hurdle. She says: “As it’s my first day, I feel like I’m a bit of a pain, I feel like I’m in the way. You just feel a bit uncomfortable don’t you, but it’s all part of the learning.”
Kelly continues: “I’ve told myself I’m not going to let it phase me. I might go a bit queasy, I might not deal with it so well my first few times, but I’m going to overcome it. It’s just a mind thing.”
Squeamish nurse Kelly has had an arduous introduction to the dermatology ward. As the shift nears its end, she faces her biggest challenge so far, witnessing an injection. Kelly says:
“This is the first time I will have seen an injection. I’m nervous. The thought of it turns my stomach. Hopefully there won’t be too much blood.” She continues: “Other people like me, who are as squeamish as I am, have done this. You can always overcome those fears. It’s about the interaction with patients and hoping to make a bit of a difference, and that’s what I’m here for.”
It’s a big step forward for Kelly, she says: “I’m sure I will get used to it. And I’m sure with things like wounds and stuff, when I do come to it I’ll find it fascinating like I just found that (injection) fascinating.”
Over the next three years Kelly will spend more than 65 weeks on the ward. At the end of her first day, Kelly is already beginning to realise the enormity of the challenge ahead, saying: ”I don’t know how nurses do it all the time, my feet are absolutely aching, my back is killing because you’re stood up all day, my legs are like jelly. When they say long days, they’re not joking are they? They are long days.”