Friday, 26 February 2016

Work Woes

Nursing has changed so much in the ten short years since I qualified. It really isn't the same job I initially got into. And this has got me thinking over the last few weeks: is nursing still the career for me?

I have to answer honestly: I'm not sure.

When I first started nursing, the emphasis was mostly on the practical aspects of the job. There's nothing more satisfying than taking someone's vitals signs and interpreting the results, seeing the progress of healing (or non-healing) wounds, following a patient through their journey of being really sick and watching their progress as they get better. Or just spending those precious ten minutes with a grieving family, or a patient who has received bad news.

You were actively encouraged to go on study days, sent to mandatory training like Immediate Life Support, and Moving and Handling. Encouraged to gain new skills like venepuncture and cannulation.

Team working was paramount; everyone worked together, efficiently and effectively getting the essential work done so that time was available for those patients who needed a chat, or the family who needed extra support, or just to actually have a laugh and a joke with your patients.

But now, recently, things have changed. I barely have time to get my essential stuff done. By the time I've got the medications out, it's time to do the observations. Meanwhile you're getting interrupted because there's a phone call about someone who was discharged the day before, or social work are phoning, or the physio's are asking questions about a patient or you have to escort a patient to X-Ray and before you know it, it's lunch time and you have to serve the patients their meal. And you haven't even had a chance to assist anyone with their personal hygiene. Then it's time for medications again, and the rush starts all over until visiting time. Then in between speaking to relatives, and organising home care and discharge planning for umpteen patients and realising room 2 still hasn't had a wash, and you get a new admission in, whose paperwork you have to do and you still have all your writing up of all your other patients to do. Oh and you still haven't peed since you left the house.

And this is all when patients are compliant. It's amazing how just one disruptive patient can absorb every ounce of your attention, as happened to me on Sunday night. So much so that the police were called at 2am.

This patient basically verbally abused every single member of staff (and some patients) for 12 hours. And despite being told they could leave at anytime (no medical or psychological need to be in hospital) they still opted to stay. I feel really bad for all the other patients who had to suffer this patients bad behaviour all night.

I can't tell you the last time I was on a study day. I think it was before I had the Wee One (and she's 4 now). There's no study days available, unless you go on your own time and pay for it yourself. Everything is on-line and self-directed. My ILS is definitely out of date, and there are no opportunities attend any study days as they cannot afford to have you off the ward for any length of time.

I don't even feel like part of a nursing team anymore. I mean, I work with a team of nurses, but on the ward, you're on your own. We each have a team of 9 or 10 patients, and we are solely responsible for those patients. And there are only 2 nursing assistants for the whole ward. The only time I really see my colleagues is if I need them to check a drug or to ask an opinion. We simply don't have time to help each other, because we're stretched so thinly and we're just trying to get the basics done for our patients. And that's when we are fully staffed (which is never)!!

And now the wise old government are wanting to being in a new role: the Nursing Associate who according to an article I read are there to do all the practical stuff to allow Staff Nurses to focus on management and decision making.


I became a nurse BECAUSE of the practical stuff. I do not want to be a manager. If I wanted to sit at a desk and do paperwork all day I would have stayed in my office job. Which also has made me realise, that unless you WANT to go into management, there is no career progression in nursing. I don't want to be a ward Sister/Manager/Charge Nurse. They're not out on the shop floor. My Ward Manager spends most of her time at meetings, worrying about figures and stats and budgets and staffing and figures, figures, figures!! That's not why I did my degree.

I fear that I'm destined to be a band 5 forever, still pounding the wards until I'm 60, 65, 70. Is this what I really want? And if it's not, what will I do? We can't afford to be a one-income family. Do I want to go back to a 9-5 office job?

Honestly I don't know. But I'll hopefully figure it out soon.

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