Night shifts this week: fine when you have at least 4 staff on. Since it was my first nights, coworkers were really lovely and even gave me a 2 hour break to sleep! Plus, the ward isn't too heavy atm besides one challenging patient who pretty much needs 1-to-1 support. There's a lot of cleaning in it, cleaning cammodes, obs machines, steady's but you can power through that in an hour. Then there's the sitting around which is fine and quite a bonding experience if you have other chilled staff on with you, but if you don't have anyone to talk to, it is all too easy to fall asleep. (Which I did at 4am this morning!)
- Basically a lot of sitting around then the ward is quiet
- Bond and have a laugh with other coworkers quite easily
- A 2 hour nap
- Absolute hell when the ward is heavy
- You'll have far less staff than the day to cope, and often your doing all of the HCA duties on your own
- Dementia patients can really struggle and therefore a lot of your time is devoted to making sure they are safe
- Exhausting; not neccessarily the workload but having such a long shift at that sort of time drains your soul
- Having a night shift plays hell with your body clock and means you don't really get a day off despite the rota considering the morning you come off work, as a day off. Which it isnt, because the only thing your physically able to do is sleep.
- Having night shifts back to back is nearly impossible to cope with sensibly when you travel 2 hours each way
So there you have it. As I say, thankfully my experience wasn't so bad this week, but I imagine I will have a much more horrid time of it when there are staff on that don't let you have a break, or don't let you drink tea on the ward.
Saying that, I have lost the will to live several times this week. It is very easy to become disillusioned with applying to medicine in this sort of job. I feel sorry for the F1's: they get shat on so badly by everyone else above them, they're job on the face of it, is doing all the things the chain of doctors above them (F2's, Regs, blah blah) don't want to do... and the rest of the chain think it's hilarious. Gotta wait 4 hours for some results? Get the F1 to do it and tell him just as he is about to walk out the door. Got a mountain of paperwork? F1. Gotta reassure the patients what they're procedure is? Get the F1.
The other thing that can really be off putting to applying for medicine is seeing all the loop holes in the NHS. I can very easily see how patients would be neglected. Hell I think the patients that need the most support are the most likely to be neglected. It breaks me to see when other nurses or hca's just aren't putting in the tiniest bit of effort to make a massive difference to the patient.
Take Marie, she screams a lot. She is a lovely, cute, war-fighting old lady, but boy - she knows how to scream. She screams about everything, when she's frightened, when it's too bright in her room, when someone walks by. Every other member of staff walks by and lets her scream, since she is only going to start back up again. I figured out pretty early on though that if you literally stick your head through her side-room door, and say, "Hi Masie, you OK? There's nothing to be frightened of, it's just me out here. Let me know if you need anything! Don't be scared, I will see you in just a bit!" and that's it, she'll be fine for a bit. Sure, she'll start again, but it takes 3 seconds to stick your head in and reassure her that everything is fine. Why won't the other staff do that?
But there are obviously patients that no amount of reassurance is good enough. What am I meant to feel when Ray at 3am is feeling so uncomfortable and is so frustrated about it, that he grabs your neck with all his might and squeezes as hard as he can, the minute you step into his reach? Later he even asks me to show him how much he hurt me, and should he try harder. That sort of stuff, amongst the rest of the verbal abuse makes me want to quit. I soon stopped fooling myself that every patient was at the heart of it was going to be a nice person. Some people are just cruel. It takes all my strength to still find the will power to wash him, get him changed, and wipe his poo and make him comfortable.
Sometimes, I have come home after times like that and just cried. I'm doing the best I can but I feel like I'm crap at my job, and that I'm making no real difference at all, and patients like Ray hate me because I must be really unlikeable, and why oh why won't some of the other staff just say hello to Marie and make her stay so much better all for the sake of a few seconds?!