Training through a pandemic

The recent pandemic has caused a lot of upset, anxiety and confusion. In a course which is already quite demanding, myself and Shay are here to reflect on our experiences of training through a pandemic and how we are finding way’s to cope throughout…

#HelloMyNameIsChlöe and I am a third year course rep and student nurse! My last second year placement is almost at and end and someone please tell me where the time has gone because its flown by! This placement has taught me so much and I have enjoyed every moment but nursing and training during a pandemic has definitely had its challenges…

From taking observations, to early starts, injections, and holistic care, being a student nurse can be at times challenging. In nursing,you have to learn to change and adapt and we as students have definitely had to adapt to a number of things. From online learning, to changes is placement, new rules and regulations, it has defiantly been a learning experience but one which has been valuable to my training. This pandemic has defiantly taught me about the importance of adaptation! During the pandemic, I know I have definitely struggled with finding ways to relax and unwind as we can’t do the things we previously used to be able to as freely. After a hard day, all you want to do is spend time with friends and see the people you love but recent rules have not made this possible. So what have I learnt? 

  1. Self care is important – This can be taking a long bath, watching a movie, or just doing something you enjoy. Taking time to recharge is important and essential to our wellbeing! 
  2. Be kind to yourself and take each day at a time  – These are really uncertain times and something the majority of us have never experienced before so be kind to yourself and take each day and shift at a time 
  3. Support network – While we may not be able to physically see our friends or family, the power of technology had pulled through in this pandemic! Having a support network is so vital especially on those rough days and so a video with friends can be really beneficial to your wellbeing 
  4. It’s okay not to be okay – We all have off days and COVID has sadly impacted on many people’s mental health but it’s okay not to be okay. The combination of uni work and shifts if tricky to handle and so If you are struggling, then your tutor is always there to support you! 

This year has been one of a kind and I’m not sure any of us imagined living through a pandemic nor training through one, but I feel very privileged to be training in such uncertain times and doing my part to provide care to patients in hospital. The lovely Shay is now going to reflect and share what she has learnt from training during a pandemic… 

#HelloMyNameIsShay, I too am on my last and final week of a year 2 placement. I am taking more of a responsibility with my patients, which is getting me ready for year 3 and beyond. I am very grateful to be supported in my recent placement with this. My current placement is such a fabulous opportunity to work alongside parents and their children. It has allowed me to really advocate, and to understand the importance and why building a rapport with these families is so important.. I digress!! I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by! I too agree with chloe, I remember starting year 1 of my pediatric nursing journey stepping into the simulation suite, meeting fellow nursing and midwifery students and somewhat feeling my heart in my mouth but also excited!! If someone were to tell me, fast forwarding 2 years and you’ll be nursing in a pandemic…. I wouldn’t know where to start.. so here are the steps I take in order to claim some normality back, and some control, I am never going to pretend that it is easy and Im perfect and get this right every time and follow my own advice. Nursing through a pandemic has truly made me realise, don’t take things for granted, don’t plan too far in advance, take 1 day at a time, really listen to your mental health and do keep in touch with friends. Do things that make you happy. For me it’s going and walking rescue dogs and my own. However here are my top tips.. 

1.     Take time to destress, light a candle and reflect on your day whether this be on your day off or on the train home or before you go to bed. I write down 4 things (1, what I did well on placement or in uni, 2. What did someone say that made me feel positive, 3, what could I improve on in my next shift, 4, did I do something to make a little change to the child or parent or relatives day, put a smile on their face?).

2.     Take some time out for you, on my days off, I have very little energy, as nursing in a pandemic is hard and all my energy and mental energy is going to my families and patients I am looking after, and on my day off this is the time I really refuel, switch on your laptop and dedicate 1 / 2 hours for uni work so you can slowly keep on top of it but the rest take time out for you, currently I listen to podcasts or put on a films to make my brain switch off.

3.     Speak to your friends, whether that be your nursing friends or outside your nursing friends circle. I have found them to be invaluable these past 6+ mnths. They too understand what you are going through, you can discuss any problems you have or the successes of your days. Phone home, speak to your family as try and normalise whats going on around you. This has been one thing that has kept me going is the support of my family. 

4.     Speak to your personal tutor, weather that be due to personal problems or academic or placement support, they are there to listen, even if you send multiple emails, they would rather you reach out then not and struggle in silence. They don’t mind! Sadly they haven’t yet got the ability to become telepathic!! But do reach out, they will try and help before your problems become a mountain!! 

And finally, from us to you! You’ve got this… keep going… looking back you will be the ones that nursed during a pandemic, what a fantastic achievement and got through your degree !!