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My job explained: Adult nurse

Yvonne Bushell explains why being a nurse on a busy ward requires a clear head as well as a good heart. Read on to find out more.

Can you tell us a bit about your job?

My job entails looking after patients following orthopaedic surgery, which could be a hip or knee replacement or having toes straightened or an ankle fused.  I need to ensure that they have adequate pain relief, assistance to have a wash, which could be while the patient is in bed or help them to the bathroom. I make sure that the patient is seen by the doctor, the physiotherapist, the occupational therapist, the pharmacist and / or the pain specialist nurse. I also discharge patients from the ward to their home, ensure that the patient is adequately hydrated and receives their meals and encourage them to mobilise and do their exercises.

What qualifications and training do you have?

I did my training a long time ago and this has completely changed over the years. People should look on the NHS website to find the information about what it involves now.

What was the training like? 

My training consisted of theory in the school of nursing and blocks of weeks working on the wards you would work on medical, surgical wards, in accident and emergency, children’s wards, operating theatres. You would also work day and night shifts.

What other skills do you need? 

Patience, listening skills, multitasking, being able to take praise as well as confrontation and being sympathetic and prepared to give your own time.

Why did you choose nursing? 

I had always wanted to be a nurse.

What is a typical day like?

Busy! You give the patients their medication, identify patients that will be going home and those that will be admitted to the ward, help patients have a wash and mobilise and do their exercises and liaise with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and medical staff and social workers. You must also ensure relevant paperwork is completed, book transport for patients, liaise with relatives, take patients to have their surgery and look after them after their surgery, as well as giving out meals and drinks and answering the phone before finally handing over to your colleagues.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Seeing patients go home relatively pain free after their surgery, everything going smoothly on the shift, having supportive staff working on the shift and being able to complete all paperwork on time!

What’s the worst thing about your job?

Not having enough time to do everything; paperwork; not always having enough beds for the patients; patients and relatives being argumentative.

What advice would you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps? 

Try and get a job as a healthcare assistant and work either at a hospital or nursing home and see if they like the sort of work that involves. Studying English, maths and biology would also help them in the various aspects of the nursing role.

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