Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A special anniversary - 30 years of being a nurse

Today is a special day for me. 30 years ago I started my nurse training at the Salisbury School of Nursing at the Salisbury General Infirmary, Salisbury in the UK.

Good old days
Those were the good old days when nurse education was hospital-based...none of those fancy degrees back in those days! We were taught lots about the nursing process...whatever the *** that was. And we started to move away from task orientated nursing to more individualised care planning. But there was not a lot of talk about evidence-based decision making...let's face junior students, we did what the ward auxiliary told us to do.

How we did it then
I loved my nurse training. We all lived together in various nurses homes and I built some very strong relationships that still exist today. I met some incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated nurses along the way. I also came across some real witches...I can tell you. And even now, I still remember certain patients and scenarios that made an impact on my life.

Those were the days when you just got on and did it. None of this naval gazing for us. When I look back, I was involved in some incredibly heavy stuff, but we did our debriefing down the pub. We had amazing hands-on the end of the second year we were running wards. Life was hard...but there was a fabulous community spirit in the hospital...we all worked together to achieve a common goal...from kitchen hands and porters to medical consultants.

I didn't like A&E...I used to get real tension headaches when I was on duty...but I loved coronary care. I dreaded being in a 'crash call' situation and always disappeared behind curtains if it looked like someone was heading that way. I loved talking to patients on night duty...a quiet time when you had time to sit down and really talk. I loved orthopaedics although it was very hard work. Plastics was scary but fascinating. Loved medicine because of the challenge of making people well...or making their last days on earth as comfortable as possible. I also loved surgery...but hated working in theatres with a passion.

Moving on
Once I qualified as a nurse, it was only a few months before I moved into midwifery where I have been ever since. But those few years in nursing taught me all about empathy...communication...caring....nursing to work as a team...time management and organisation.

To my friends
"Thank you' to all those wonderful nurses I have learned from over the years...especially the 1980 Salisbury intake... Shelia, Jane, Sue, Celeste, Jean, Sharon, Adrian, Chris, Jackie, Becky, Debbie, Bridget, Caroline, Linda, Sarah, Julie and our tutor Rosemary Harris....and anyone I have forgotten.

My final thought...Geez! Has it really been 30 years?! Surely I cannot be that old!!??

Image: Salisbury General Infirmary:


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah
I loved this post, it took me right back to 1992 when I started hospital-based training in Hertfordshire (I am probably one of the last nurses in the UK trained this way).
As you say, training the way we did we had such fun, working on the different wards and living in the nurses home. We learnt heaps from this clinically focused training, especially the practical side of the job (which is what nursing is all about at the end of the day).
On our gynae ward we used to call up the porter to go down to the lab for us and collect some 'fallopian tubes'. We had such a laugh.
Most of our ward sisters were Irish, gee whizz, could they run a tight ship. We learnt heaps from them but they had very quick tempers. If the fluid balance sheets weren't up to date then god help you. You'd receive a royal bollocking right in front of the patient.
I appreciated your comment about the quietness of the night shift. I found it that way too. We had dimmed lights and used to walk about on tip toe not to disturb patients. That's all changed now though. Two years ago I was admitted to Southland Hospital for surgery, I couldn't believe that come night time, the place was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the buzzers were going off nineteen to the dozen. How times have changed!!!
As an added note, I have just applied to do my midwifery training through Otago. I've always wanted to be a midwife, but until OP started up the satellite training sites, it was not possible for me to apply. Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be accepted.
Cheers, Sarah.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi, thanks for the comment. I haven't been in hospital (apart from maternity years) for years so wonder what it is like to be a nurse...or patient...these days. And I also ask I get older, am I remembering with rose-coloured glasses?

Good luck with your midiwfery course...drop in to see me if you're ever up at OP in Dunedin...I live on the ground floor of H is on me :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah
I appreciate this is an oldish post but I had to reply.
I too did my training @ Salisbury when the School of Nursing was based in Harcourt Terrace around the corner from the old SGI overlooking Lizzie Gardens.
I began my training on 28th March 1983 and have very fond memories of my years there between 1983-1991 when I moved away from the area.

I appreciate that times do change but not a day goes by when I do not despair at current methods of training/teaching and general attitudes of some more recently degree trained Nurses and students.
I remember my very first lecture where we were all informed in no uncertain terms how lucky we were that Salisbury CHOSE each and every one of us given they refused entry to one Florence Nightengale!
My Clinical Tutors were Miss Hobbs and Miss Whittle and it took me months to properly pronounce anything Pulmonary!I remember Rosemary Harris, she passed me for both my Surgical Asessment and Drug Asessements.
I met my husband whilst there and both of my sons were born in Odstock Hospital where I was working post registration in theatres.....very, very, very happy days and not through any rose tinted glasses,and like you I find it almost impossible to think that it has been 30 years almost!
It was the best training in the world, if I asked one of my students today to calculate a dose of insulin for a patient that does not come ready prepped in International Unit format they just look blankly at me as they idly reach for the battery operated, hand held, digital ear thermometer!
I often wonder what most of them would do if all the electronic gadgets and gizmo's they take so for granted these days all fouled up at once. Run screaming for the hills probably because they have not ever been taught the proper fundamentals, and worse consider them irrelevant - heaven forbid the patient ever gets spoken to these days, if of course English is their Nurse's first language.
I could go on and on and on but ........times were harder then, and very much better, care of the individual patient was the priority and we at least were taught correctly, thoroughly,theoretically, compassionately and professionally.
Happy days indeed
Jojo Thomas-Brown

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello JoJo, you and I must have crossed paths at some stage....what a small world. Here are some photos of our reunion with Rosemary Harries in May 2012...have a look and see if there are any people you recognise:

Anonymous said...

Hello Sarah
I did my training from 1983 to 1986 at Salisbury and echo everything you have commented though I did specialise in Burns and Plastics after I qualified. I loved my training and wouldnt have changed a thing, we had the hardest yet the best trainig we could have had to prepare us for lay ahead! Im now a senior nurse in Burns and Plastcs and always look back at my student nurse days with fondness. Thank you for reminding me how lucky we really were to have had a good background in such a wonderful hospital!
Thanks for reminding me how lucky I was!

DF118 said...

Great memories. I trained from 1985-1988...and Theatres was my thing. Did get a look back inside the old infirmary in 2012. Guy Phipps