Showing posts from 2013

Happy Christmas!!

Quite frankly I'd rather be at work but HAY.

But here's to wishing everyone else a great day filled with lots of goodies, laughs and those moments you'll look back on when you're old and wrinkly.

36 hours. 3 shifts. 3 nights.

Sorry guys, prepare yourself for an extremely long post but I promise it ends with a bang (almost literally). 
My first nights on this ward were… exhausting, eventful and eye-opening. Don't get me wrong, they don't have to be that bad and actually the work load is much much lighter than the days but throw in a few difficult patients and suddenly the will to live is sapped out of you.
Night 1 : I have Charlie (one of my favourite staff nurses) and a student nurse working with me. This first night really showcases how good a shift can be if you have staff of real excellence to work with. I make the tea's, I hand them out, I clear up, I do the toilet checks and care rounds, and then I make a brew and do nothing from 11pm-5am. May be change the bins, obs on any new admissions, keeping the care rounds up to date and a tiny bit of filing here and there - and that's the work bit of it done, aside answering buzzers.  So the next 6 hours consist of the 3 of us behind the nurse…

36 hours. 3 shifts. 3 days.

Shattered isn't the half of it. I've been assured having 3 long days (shift from 0700-1930) all in one go isn't usual - but this was also my 4 day week so I was literally a walking zombie by the time I opened my front door and collapsed on the sofa last night.

It's a really strange feeling doing 3 long days together, working with the same 11 patients (they put me at the "heavy end" at the bottom of the ward for all 3 shifts, and there next to no discharges / admissions so it was pretty much the same people). It's like you live parallel to your patients. As they're waking up, you're waking up to go into work to see them. You then spend all day together. As they go to bed, we're heading out of work to go home to bed ourselves. It's really surreal, I can't explain it very well but it's like my life was totally centered around these patients when you do 3 days together.

These shifts should have been the one's that made me want to k…

Moving Hospitals

I never really had the opportunity to post about resigning from being a HCA in one hospital, to taking up another position as a HCA in another hospital. Sure, I wrote about it happening, what I hoped it would be like and the induction but it was all rather crazy where the UCAS deadline was over, universities would be receiving our UKCAT scores, drips of interview invitations were being sent - and so you sort of missed the bulk of it.

A quick catch up: I'd been working at a hospital a good 2.5 hours away (via public transport - only half an hour drive) since July. It was a cardiology ward, I was only 1 of may be 2 individuals that were an under-40's HCA. It was a very small close knit team. 22 beds. I'd handed in my resignation at the beginning of October, and officially started at my local (absolutely humongous) hospital on the 11th of November. My first shifts were a week later and here we are, about a month on.

So the first question will be, do you prefer the new place o…

Just a blog revamp

The strangest thing happened when I came across a university blog... it was both endearing and quirky and is the sort of blog that makes you want to look up everything that's mentioned: most notably, brand names and places to visit. Then...I realised it was being written by a girl that I went to school with!! Crazy small world.

So, feeling inspired, I thought I'd give this blog a revamp. You can now post comments anonymously too... hope you like the new look. Need to come up with a new URL too so watch out!

The Interview

I'm obviously very limited in what I can say about the MMI interview I've had at Manchester University - but I felt a lot more positive than after my Liverpool one last year. I think MMI definitely suits me better and I even begun to really enjoy it by the end. There were some eyebrow raising moments as some stations were not what I expected but all in all - I have my fingers crossed and haven't given up all hope.

It turns out re-applicants aren't as rare as I thought either. Out of the 7 in my group, another 2 where also reapplicants... one of them had a jaw-dropping UKCAT of 850. I decided not to mention my score...

Leeds University have been messing me around from day one. I love the University, I think it's a wicked course and I am truly gutted that I will not be attending there come September. I haven't been rejected yet, but it is impending as I am apparently in the 7th decile (bottom 30%) for my academics and top 30% for my UKCAT.

So - how am I in the bo…

Working with people you like

Anyone will tell you, you could be doing the crappiest job in the world... but if you're doing it with people you like, if you've got great work mates, you will always have more good days than bad.

I've got a colleague - she's a senior HCA and the first time I met her, I thought we were never going to get on, that I'd hate her, that I was gutted to have a senior that I already disagreed with. But as the days have gone on, I realised: holy shit she's fucking fantastic. One of those people that make you feel like you're capable of anything, all you want to do is impress her and earn her approval and be part of her life. The days that I get to work with her are the best days at work I've ever had.

May be it's the new hospital, may be it's being desperate for someone new in my life because all of my old friends are at uni... but honestly? I think she's just an incredible person.


I saw the e-mail, I screamed, I danced, ran around and wait. No-one was home. It was just me, sitting unwashed, unfed, my hair defying gravity and smell wafting through walls with no-one to celebrate with. Oh well! Off I went to have a shower, a cup of tea, rang my old principal to shout down the phone so loud it took him 5 minutes to understand the enormity of what I was telling him.
"You have a what? You're going to Manchester? What's at Manchester? Theres an interview? OH! YOU HAVE AN INTERVIEW AT MANCHESTER?!"

He didn't even bother hiding the surprise. Indeed I think I am one of the first (if not the first) batch of interviews to be sent out and we were certain I wouldn't make the cut off for the UKCAT. Well, well, well. Here I am.

I have to remember, I must calm my tits. I've been through this before, last year Liverpool invited me to interview, it went horrendously, they then dragged out a rejection until March. It was a very distressi…

Failed driving test and the New Job

So I failed my driving test. I think I've easily had 80 lessons and at £22 can understand just how pissed off I was. Don't get me wrong, I think my driving instructor is great and I'm not sure I would have got there any faster with anyone else. He explains everything well, gives me confidence and puts me at ease while constantly challenging me and pushing me to do better. I guess it was just one of those "on-the-day nerves things" since every single time I got to bite point, the tension in my right leg was just too much and it would shake violently. Like when your standing at the edge of a cliff. Not to be dramatic or anything. Next time!
I begin my induction at the big-new-fancy-much-closer-to-home hospital today. Oh how it's great to be back home within the hour. The induction, just like the last one is boring as hell but since this place is basically brand new and one of the (if not the) biggest in Europe it's obvious that they also want to …

Work vs Play

So as soon as my UKCAT was done, that morning I sent off my UCAS and that afternoon I got a train to London to stay with my cousins. I always enjoy staying there, it gives me some headspace, it lets me chill out and I can just shop till I drop. Always, always love it.

I then came back home, had a shower, slept and then took a train to stay with a friend living in Leicester halls. She's studying Economics and is having a ball of a time. We went out with all of her roomates, it was a GREAT night I had so much fun and it was awesome to check out the university properly. Is Leicester for me though? Not. At. All.

The morning I wake in Leicester, I take a train straight to Sheffield to stay with a friend living in their halls. I love Sheffield. I had 2 really great crazy nights, the university looks amazing, the people were exactly the type of people I can't wait to meet and I'm so glad it's one of my university choices this year.

Somewhere amongst this, I gathered a disgust…

The Choices

So the UKCAT debacle goes on. There I was, so pleased with my 700+ score...last year I would have been in the top decile - I could go anywhere!

My final choices:
University of Leeds
University of East Anglia
University of Manchester
University of Sheffield

And then....UKCAT released this years decile boundaries I was now barely in the top 25%. Don't get me wrong, this is still waaay better than last year, but still. That's a pretty steep drop and now I'm far less convinced with my choices than I was :S

Originally UoS said that this year, they would give anyone with a score of 2600 equal consideration. Last year I am pretty sure they were inundated with applicants after setting there score at 2400, so in an attempt to slice the number of applicants but still not appear as "UKCAT heavy" they set it at 2600. And now the statistics are saying - 2600 is actually below average. Who knows what UoS will resort to apart from ruthless PS checking??

At UEA, A-levels, GCSE&#…


The whole medical cycle makes it a natural occurence for you to question your own self-worth, ability, patience, character.... Should I have taken a gap year? Should I do my UKCAT this late? Wouldn't it have been better and more worthwhile if I went to university along with my friends, did a worthwhile course and then if I still wanted to, go grad-entry for medicine? Would I even be a good doctor? Even now, when I get in touch with friends and hear all about their brand-new-life, I am panged with jealousy. That should have, would have, could have been me.
I did my UKCAT. And then I remembered why I made the correct decision all this time. 
This year, I have AAAa achieved at A-level. 702.5in the UKCAT, and SJT band 1. I have had some of the best experience you can get (despite how much I bitch about it) working as a HCA.
I am spoilt for choice.
Last year this time, I was looking at: ABCC at AS.  627.5 on the UKCAT = really limited number of places for me to apply and even then, the …

2 months in

My UKCAT is booked for next Thursday. I am feeling very anxious about it despite my KAPLAN course. The KAPLAN course is a rip off, there is no denying it. But if your like me, you just don't care as long as you can get whatever information you can... I just hope I get above the 650 mark, and if I get above the 700 mark well, blow me I'd be over the moon.

This was the week I had the horrendous set of shifts and today I was feeling so rough I abandoned work all together mid-shift.I am booked to work till Friday. I am weighing up whether or not to call in sick tomorrow. On one hand I am only on an "Early" 0700-1400, which doesn't happen very often. On the other hand, I am exhausted. I really need some time to get myself together, and I'd rather not have to do that later on this week when I'm trying to prepare for the UKCAT.

I also handed in my notice and to my surprise, my line manager was so nice about it. He said he thought this might happen, that the trav…

Words of advice

Yesterday, I rocked up to work to find I was the only HCA on. The other 2 had called in sick. We were a nurse down too. In short, I was fucked.

But thankfully, a neighboring ward lent us a HCA to give me a hand. She was incredible, inspirational, outstanding at her job - generally and genuinely fantastic. It's well known that most people want you to be successful, just not too successful. Or as successful as themselves. This lady, Carmel was the complete opposite. I began explaining about how I was hoping to apply to medicine this year and immediately she was behind me.

"It's fantastic that you've decided to work as a HCA for some experience. Good for you. More wannabe doctors should do it. You sound intelligent - you've also got a really nice way with the patients, you will go far. I can see it already. I've worked in hospitals with other HCA's that then went on to become doctors and you can tell the difference by far. You remind me so much of another HCA …

the UKCAT, other wards and other work

Today I completed my 40th hour of driving lessons. I am literally so close to passing it unnerves there I was excited to be booking my test. And guess what? The next available date is in NOVEMBER. What the hell?! (I've also suddenly just realised that my test date I've booked is actually the same day I start at my local hospital...I'm going to have to change it ! :S)

I have been ploughing on ahead with the UKCAT revision which is all good. I do feel like I'm getting better which is always a positive sign...

So far I feel and have always felt that VR was my best section. There have been countless examples of students doing exceptionally high on every section but the VR - so I don't know whether I will actually do as well as I practise.

QR is my worst. I just don't think that fast and I have a natural tendency to check my answers which eats up time. What I must remember on test day is: any question with too much information / looks difficult, guess, flag …

Keep Calm and Plan On

Whenever feeling anxious, upset or generally crappy - plan. I love planning, it gives me a focus. You'll have noticed from my last post that I am getting a bit fed up at work... so I have been planning the rest of my gap year.

This is the plan:
1. I move to the big ass hospital which is much closer to home in November. This means I need to hand in my resignation at the medium size - 2 and a half hour journey away hospital by the end of this month. This will hopefully mean that I enjoy work a bit more, because I won't be dreading the travelling to and from work and the days will be significantly shorter.
2. I have booked lots of annual leave off in October (bit cheeky to do so when I'm leaving so soon I know!) so will hopefully have passed my practical driving test and will be driving around visiting friends as they settle into Uni.
3. I begin saving for my travelling plans with I am thinking I will go to Sri Lanka and volunteer for 4 weeks, do the same…

A drained soul

Driving, mundane job, UKCAT planning

I just passed my theory driving test (woo!) and I cannot wait to pass my practical. It's taking the piss really now, i've spent a fortune trying to just-get-it-done, but it's not happening. Patience, hargh.

Not being able to drive means I'm still spending 2 hours each way to get to and from the really-far-away-hospital job. This is getting exhausting. I've been doing it for about 6 weeks now, and I really don't know if I can muster up the strength to do it for much longer. I'm taking an occupational health appointment for a really-close-hospital on Monday, so hopefully as soon as that's in the all clear I'll move hospitals. Quite frankly, I cannot go on getting up at 0430 and coming home at 2200 when my shift is 0730-2000.

As well as the travelling, the job is also getting quite draining. Part of it is the 0730-2000 shifts I'm doing. The "Early" shifts (0730-1400) fly by, and I really quite like them. In the end, this isn't the job…

Last orifices and confused patients

So my first shift this week started with doing the "last clean up" of a dead body. I knew this patient was going to die - I hadn't become particularly close to her, but I had known her briefly and I just wish I could say she went peacefully. The fact is she was in a huge amount of pain, screaming sometimes, and myself and another HCA agreed that she should have been given more pain relief by the nurses, but the nurse didn't believe she could be in that much pain. Rule number 1: the pain is whatever the patient says it is.

Anyway, I went in to see her, to clean her with another HCA and I thought I'd be freaked. I thought I'd feel a bit sick, or get a bit light headed. I barely flinched and I feel like such a cow for it. Me and An just got on with it, removing cannulas, labelling her, wrapping her up, and covering her with the white sheets. It felt like when I used to put my sister to sleep, I used to say "I'm going to make you into a sausage," an…


The real anxiety started the night before. The frantic searches through clearing, the "But if I get X I will go through clearing," and "If I get X what will I do???" The buts and the ifs flooding me for hours. As expected I barely slept, and woke up at 0430. I sat on the UCAS website preparing myself to be ready to go through the process if need be, then woke up my mom when I could not handle it any more at 0500.

She tried to make an edible breakfast while doing her best poker-calm-face. We arrived at college at 0545. We sat in the car for a whole hour, in silence. Eventually, 45 minutes before we were allowed to, I had enough and walked in. They were still sorting the admin stuff out, and told me to wait in the common room.

I sat, iPad ready, iPhones ready, shaking, eyes filled to the brim with tears and nothing had even happened yet. When my vice principal walked in holding the stack, I could have started sobbing there and then. I triple checked I had the clearin…

A really crap shift, 5 day countdown, and reapplying

Sometimes because of both exhaustion, emotions, and hormones (hello mother nature, I am talking to you, thank you for not holding back this month!) it can get a bit too much. Combine that with a really stressful day job, and some ever increasing difficult patients and being short-staffed...well it ain't pretty. I initially wrote a really long post discussing everything that went wrong, but then thought it's not worth it. It's not worth spending so much time lingering on how crappy it was and why; the point is, working as a HCA is challenging in ways you couldn't imagine and it really takes someone to be in the job to know how. Doctors will never get that, and I still feel privileged to be in such a position where I get as much insight as I do.

The other thing that has been niggling at me a while, is - how much is this job helping my application? Yes, I am enjoying it overall (more times than others obviously) but at 8pm on a Friday night, and you've got someones sh…

10 days

till results!! Can't believe how fast the time has gone these past couple of weeks. Mind you, when July started I thought we'd never get here. Feeling more and more jittery about it as the day draws nearer, somehow convincing myself of all the reasons I have missed my grades. I just want it over with more than anything - I'm not even excited any more.

Hopefully though, if I get my grades, I can get back to being excited about reapplying. At the minute, every time I look through the universities' new prospectus for 2014, I feel completely forlorn. Like heartbreakingly so, and I'm not sure why. I'm giving it another shot, you don't know how things might turn out this year, even if I don't get in I'm still going to have a brilliant year.... and yet I just feel so upset whenever I start looking at Universities again.

In the mean time I have been really busy at the hospital. I'm in my 3rd week, and even though I'm still labeled as "supernume…

Feedback from Keele...FINALLY

So yesterday I did another shift at the sports ground. Today, it's not even half two in the afternoon, and I am wondering what an earth I did before I began work at the hospital for all of these hours. I honestly don't know - I wouldn't say i'm bored, just confused. Suddenly I have some time on my hands, and I'm not sure what I used to do with it!

Anyway following my pre-interview rejection from Keele, I asked for feedback way back in April, and they've only just gotten back to me. Apparently this was the farce:
I disagree with many of them, namely a, d, h, and i. I can't really argue too much on the others like g and j, but nevertheless I am confident that I should have been on max points for those mentioned. It's frustrating because personal statements are so subjective, and are always risky university choices. Ah well. Once this application cycle has finished I will upload the statements for all to read and hope none of you are stupid enough to copy …

How loud can you ask if they want tea / coffee

These past 2 days / shifts have been exhausting, and yet I'm almost looking forward to my next one. Working on the wards has been a completely refreshing experience, re-instigated my drive to apply for medicine, and also a complete laugh. My first shift I arrive, looking for An who is another HCA and is going to show me the ropes on how to do things.

First thing is the handover - as a HCA, nearly everything the handover nurse is saying is irrelevant to me. What I want to know is how much assistance the patient needs, whether they have a catheter, are they able to sit / stand, have they opened their bowels last night, are they on a fluid balance chart, etc. This is all stuff that you'd know if you knew the patient, or you'll find out when you first meet them. I.E. Check the chart etc. So when the Nurse is talking about this drug and that drug, I can switch off An assures me.

Then, we serve breakfast.
"Morning TOM! Would you like a HOT DRINK?" An asks the first pat…

The Induction

So these past couple of days I have completed my induction at the hospital I'll be working at for the next month or so. It was quite boring yesterday, you basically have various people talking at you, infection control, safeguarding, trips and falls, health and safety, fire safety, record keeping - one after the other after the other. Don't get me wrong, it was all vital stuff, but there is no chance I'm going to remember any more than 5% of what they've said. Plus, as this hospital is quite far, getting up early and home late made me quite tired so I was definitely fighting my eyes to stay open...

Today was a bit more interesting. CPR, manual handling, the like. They were great experienced people giving the presentations and they had some pretty interesting things to say, it's just a shame that they were just one in a long line of other talkers, in a hot stuffy room, and their voices were the quietest and most soothing voices I have ever heard...

I had been waitin…

The Heeeeeaaaat

I cannot cope with the heat. Nothing is appealing about having sun rays shine down onto my bare skin, sweating oozing out of every pore, my hair looking greasy, and never being able to get a good nights sleep. It's so much harder to exercise too - that has pretty much stopped.

I am dealing with the stresses of paperwork for these HCA jobs - it's so daunting, but must be done :S Making sure my references are sent off, getting my CRB done - trying to find valid evidence as a proof of address (When your 17/18 have no mortgages or bills and all your bank statements are online which they don't even let you print off as evidence, this can be such a pain in the arse).

My induction is about a fortnight away, so I'm sort of looking forward to it I guess.

In other news, I have been using the money I have been saving from working at my local sports ground to pay for driving lessons. I had my first one today, I was so excited. I got this guy as a recommendation from a friend, and …