Saturday, 25 May 2013

Interviews for HCA posts.

My first response for all the numerous jobs I applied to was one for a Bank Clinical Science Worker. Bank just means that you get to pick the shifts that you are able to do, when and where you can do them, so it's very flexible. It's like the supply agency when things are going tits up. A clinical science worker is not that far off a standard healthcare assistant job, and in fact most (if not all) the day to day demands are the same. So, the job I wanted, in the sector I wanted it, flexible enough to suit around me - perfect, what could go wrong?

Well firstly, there was the fact that I had 3 hurdles to overcome. The first stage, was a Level 1 Literacy and Numeracy test. It was mostly multiple choice, and basically, if you've done GCSE's - you will do absolutely fine. There are no trick questions, nothing complex. I was worried some sort of test might involve 'nursey' type questions like what does NICE stand for? But thankfully, the test was literally to make sure you had done primary school education. I passed, and was called back for the practical assessment.

This is the hurdle I fell at. I don't think it was complex, or difficult in any way and providing you'd spent a week in any healthcare assistant post, you'd know exactly what to do - I however, had only volunteered, and done shadowing / work experience. The practical assessment is one where you have to treat a dummy patient as a real one, and illustrate knowledge of Health and Safety in the workplace, communication, and manual handling. I communicated well, apparently. But I didn't know the first thing about all the health and safety regulations.

My patient had soiled himself, and his pad needed changing.
The first thing to do was wash your hands obviously, which is what I did. Fab. Pull the curtain around, lovely.
Next, get your items that you would need to help change the patient. I didn't have a clue. I'd need bedding...another pad...I guess? What I actually needed was a change of mattress cover, gloves to put on, another pad, another apron - and know which bins to put them in. Domestic waste etc. None of which I knew.
When preparing my patient, I was also unaware that as part of health safety, you must lift the bed to a higher level. Then the handling of the patient required you to roll the patient over, moving the head in the direction of motion, one arm on the knee and one arm on the shoulder allowing you to remove bedding and soiled sanitary towel. Change it, replace the mattress cover, put in correct bin, ensure patient is comfortable.
Then fill out chart in patients notes. Take care to put the buzzer within patients reach. Filling in the chart as necessary.

That, I hope will remind me in future what to do in these practical assesments, and may also help fellow fresh-out-of-school medical wannabes, that have to do the same thing. So, failed my pracitcal no interview.

A couple of days later, I was called for an interview to be a Healthcare Assistant, in a different hospital. It was on an acute medicine ward, and it was a bit of a trek to get too, so I wasn't that bothered about not getting the post.
The sister nurses that were interviewing me were actually lovely. Very welcoming, friendly, and actually, I thought I interviewed well.
There were only a couple of questions that caught me out...
"Name an instance where you would have dealt with news that required discretion" Erm, when my friend thought she was pregnant? Dunno.
"How do you feel about picking up feces?" Do NOT respond with "Oh I love it," as I gave a pretty similar answer, and actually, non-surprisingly results in several questionable looks. Doh.

In the end I didn't get the job. I'm not quite sure why, when she rang to tell me, I was in the middle of a school trip, and couldn't really talk amongst my peers. Next time, I'll make a note of their number and call her back when I'm available so we can discuss my interview properly.

Overall a huge learning curve already. However I'm not too bummed out as I still have some time to get myself a job sorted before summer kicks in and both of those posts where a little way out. I hope it will all be good experience for a post that I really really want. At the minute, it's just more rejections to add to the pile, still - keep on keeping on.

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