I finished my last specialist placement almost one month ago now.
Nobody in the class was happy to do 1 entire month in general nursing, counting 1 long day and 3 short days a week.
Not before the final exams, not at all for the subject itself, because really not relevant to our midwifery degree.
I started in a respiratory ward, with very sick and terminal patients, most of them requiring assistance of two people for daily living activities.
The first day was a complete shock. I was sent wild to clean some of my patients without knowing how to do it, what to get and where to get it! People were hard to understand because of their breathing machines and they were sick of being there, of life and of a stupid student like me that could barely understand them.
I cried like I never did in my life on my way back home thinking that I couldn't cope for one month in those conditions.
The days passed and the first week ended. In the second week I got to know better the conditions, surgeries and treatments my patient went through and actually and more importantly I got to know THEM. In the last two weeks I changed ward and went to a postoperative private ward.
First difference with maternity is that you really get to know your patients, because they generally stay a longer period of time in the hospital. You get to know their story, their life, they will call you by name and ask for you if you weren't around anymore.
I got to know how humbling can be helping them in something you think at first might be disgusting such as toiletting. They are greatful for you to be there, they are ashamed to be in those conditions and the least thing they want to see is your disgusted face. And you actually don't need to pretend anymore to cover it, because the more time you spend with them the more you see your parents, grandparents in them. You take care of them with love.
You get to know nurses. The underrated nurses. That always with calm and a smile don't complain and take care of everything. They are little doctors, little pharmacists, little physios, little dietitians, little angels. Their knowledge, patience and team work utterly struck me!
I see nurses and old people in a different light.
This placement was not related to my studies, It was too long, it was in the worst time ever and before the exams, but it changed me deeply and gave me something inside that I could never discover otherwise.
I advise students undergoing to their general nursing placement to:
Gloria Coccoli, midwifery student in Dublin, but born in love with life in the land of sun, Sicily, in 1995
Mother of a baby with wings