Easter break in Greece

I had the chance to visit Greece with my family during the Easter break. We visited Keramoti, island Thasos and Kavala. The nature was really beautiful and the sea offered a refreshing and relaxing atmosphere. I experienced a bit of a cultural shock when it comes to the culture of the people, however, the tasty food made up for it. If you have the time to travel I recommend visiting Greece with the people you love most as it will definitely be worth the money. We traveled off season, hence our holiday turned out really cheap. All the best! xx

 

My top tips for sitting exams

  1. Revise thoroughly and prepare well in advance for your exam. This will build up your competence and confidence. Additionally, sit as many  mock/formative exams as possible so you know what to expect. Try looking for previous exam papers, for example here.
  2. Use all of your time and go through your answers again and again until the time is up. Enter the exam room with the idea that you will not rush yourself to finish but actually, use all of your time given. Trust me, going over your questions again will save you from making silly mistakes and typos.
  3. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours the night before.  Anecdotally, a good night sleep will improve your concentration levels and help you think straight. By contrast, a lack of sleep will just make you inpatient, irritable and less focused.
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  4. Ear plugs – Unless your exam has a listening part, make sure you bring a pair of ear plugs. Hearing everyone else type or write can be pretty distracting and even annoying. Blocking away the noise around you will help you truly focus on your exam.auritech-swimming-ear-plugs
  5. Nutrition and hydration are really important. You don’t want to hear your stomach growling all the way through the exam, nor do you want to be desperate for the loo either. Make sure you eat and drink 1 hour before your exam and always use the loo before your exam is about to start. Bring a small water bottle along to sip on. Also, I find that a chewing gum helps me concentrate and reduces my anxiety, although that is personal opinion only.
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  6. Don’t forget to bring the important bits, such as your campus card, a calculator, a dictionary, a wrist watch (to keep track of the time), your uniform or whatever is required to bring depending on your exam.Good luck with your exams!

Highlights of this week

1) My dissertation results are finally out guys!! I’m so proud to say that I’ve got a First (74%). I’m so thankful to my personal adviser and the second marker for giving me such a high score even though I never believed I deserve it.

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2) Placement allocations are finally out! I’m going to Critical Care for my sign off placement and I’m chuffed to bits about it! I cannot wait to start as this will be the perfect preparation for my future job on ITU. I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor and hope we get along well. My placement will be 12 weeks long, starting from the 15 May until 4 August 2017.

3) I had my SafeMedicate exam this Thursday and I feel pretty confident I’ve got 100% (which is the pass mark). So one less exam to worry about now.

4) I met nursing students from Niigata University of Health and Welfare in Japan. They presented a lovely presentation about Inter Professional Learning on Tuesday, while on Wednesday we went out for dinner in Norwich. We went to The Middletons which is mainly a grill and steakhouse restaurant, however, they had some delicious veggie burgers on the menu as well. It is great that UEA has such good relationships with international universities and it is no surprise that UEA has one of the highest numbers of Japanese exchange students in England. UEA also has its own Centre for Japanese Studies since 2011.

5) This Saturday I’m planning to join Norwich ParkRun for the second time. It’s a great way to stay fit and healthy for no cost at all. It’s great for socializing too. If you’re interested in joining, all you have to do is register on their website for FREE and print off your personal barcode which is used to keep a record of your times (how fast you’ve finished the 5 km loop track). Make sure you bring your barcode along with you and show it to one of the volunteers at the event.

My top tips for studying

  1. Get some time off the internet. It is so easy to get distracted by social media, notifications, YouTube, Facebook and what not. I suggest you uninstall all social apps on your phone, delete auto-fill log in details to your Facebook and other accounts and just focus on your studying. Simply said, avoid procrastinating.
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  2. Try to enjoy studying. As dreadful as some assignments might seem, if you remember the reason why you’re on the course you’re on and why you were so passionate about it in your personal statement then you might actually remember that you truly enjoy learning new things about your subject. Once you start reading and doing some research you will see that there’s a lot of interesting and exciting information, books and articles available out there.
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  3. Treat yourself. Once you have completed, let’s say 500 or 1000 words, take a rest and do something fun, like watching a film, or going out, or buying something nice for yourself. Remember to work hard and play hard at the same time. Good balance will keep you sane throughout your degree. 🙂
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  4. Be organized. Having a tidy desk, a clean room and a nice environment around you will really help you have a clear head too. I recommend the KonMari method of tidying up as it gives you that nice and refreshing feeling of knowing that you’ve got rid of the clutter around you and inside you too.It works well as long as you don’t use it as another form of procrastination. Also, utilising a study plan and following it will definitely help you meet your stressful deadlines.
  5. Seek help. Everybody has different learning needs and different ways of processing new information. If you have dyslexia, for example, then don’t just struggle on your own, tell someone! Help is available in abundance from your personal adviser, The Dean of Students, PAL mentors, the Student Union and your lecturers too. Talk to other students, your friends and family who could also support you with love and understanding. On the other hand, avoid people who bring negativity in your life.
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Life update

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I have some news to share!

Firstly, I`ve got a job offer on ITU in one of the leading hospitals in London. I found it quite of a challenge to get a job in a specialist area as a newly qualifying nurse because most hospitals require working experience beforehand. I feel lucky for getting a job I really wanted.

Secondly, my dissertation results are still not out yet since I had a 5 day extension. I feel confident that I have passed, however, I cannot wait to see my actual mark and read the feedback from the markers. Meanwhile, I have just started my final assignment-The service improvement essay.

Lastly, I spent this weekend with my husband in London. I helped him move into his new house and we went out for dinner after all the hard work we did together. I am getting to know different parts of London more and I cannot wait to move to London in September. It`s such a vast and dynamic place to live in. It would be difficult for anyone to get bored of it. There is always something to do and  explore.

Tonight I am going back to Norwich as I have lectures tomorrow morning. It`s nice not to be on placement all the time and feel like a real student for a change. 😀

Sweet European pancakes

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I love eating pancakes (AKA crepes) but it wasn’t until recently that I learned how to cook them! Yay! I spent a lovely evening with friends who taught me how to make the batter and how to flip the pancakes so they are cooked nicely on both sides. The recipe is simple and here is what you need to make 10-20 pancakes, depending on how thick you make them:

1) 200 g plain white flour
2)about 3 large eggs (4 small/medium eggs)
3) 600 ml milk
4) 1-2 tbs of sunflower oil
5) a pinch of baking soda
6) a pinch of sugar and salt (optional)
7) a drop of vanilla flavour (optional)
8) For cooking: unsalted butter or sunflower oil
9) For the filling: fruits, honey, chocolate, custard sugar, jam, cheddar cheese, feta cheese or whatever you fancy most

All you do is put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix/whisk them well until smooth.
Then you heat a pan on high heat and use a bit of butter or sunflower oil to prevent sticking. Reduce the heat to medium and use a ladle to pour out some of the mixture. Once you see little bubbles forming, usually within a minute or two, you carefully use a spatula to flip the pancake. Don’t worry! The first one always breaks into peaces but if you repeat the same process a dozen times you’ll get the hang of it. When your pancakes are ready just fill them with your favourite fillings and enjoy them while still hot.

My favourite places on campus ’17

1. The library is unsurprisingly on the top of my list. To begin with, it is filled with all the books I need (I have not bought a single book for the whole 3 years of my course 😀  *saving money, kind to the environment*). The library is my creative place where most of my coursework gets done. It’s comfortable, warm, modern and well-lit. The staff is really helpful and everything is kept clean and tidy.

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2. Unio is a little heaven for students on a lunch break. There is always something in the hive too to cheer you up after a boring lecture. Just look at those pastries and cakes!

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3. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is by far the most majestic place to feed your thirsty soul with art. There are events and exibitions happening all the time. Just keep checking for upcoming events and see if you fancy anything. Even The Queen herself popped in recently to see what’s it all about.her_majesty_the_queen_visit_to_sainsbury_centre_for_visual_arts01_website_image_gjlq_standardcourtesy of: Andy Sapey

4. Sportspark is a great place to work out, de-stress and stay healthy. There is a vast majority of sports you can do, from swimming to rock climbing.

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5. The green areas are everywhere to make up for all the concrete buildings. Plus, you get fluffy bunnies hopping around as a bonus. You can enjoy picnic, yoga, jogging around the lake, or a BBQ with friends outside.

What are your favourite places?

Job hunting

If you’re a final year student like me, you might be wondering when to start applying for jobs and how to nail down the job you want. I would recommended starting to apply for jobs straight after you’ve submitted your dissertation, which is in mid January. Usually, job offers end by the end of March. I do, however, know some people who applied really early in November and got the jobs they wanted. Think well about where you want to work. Is it on a ward? Just any ward? Or would you go for surgery? Or a rotation? Community? Personally, I learned that getting a job in a specialist area, such a Critical Care, Recovery, Theatres and A&E straight away without professional experience is very difficult, hence a rotation would be a great and quick way to start and then move on to a specialist area.

Firstly, start by writing a good convincing CV and uploading it on the NHS jobs website. Then apply for 5 to 10 jobs you like. Once you’ve done that, just wait for an email inviting you for an interview. Remember to wear comfortable formal or semi-formal clothes. I strongly recommend flats as opposed to heels. I recommend you bring your passport and two other documents for them to identify your ID, a calculator and a few pens. On the specified day you might be asked to sit a numeracy and literacy tests, followed by the interview itself. Don’t forget to smile and be yourself.

Secondly, remember to prepare well for the interview. During the interview they will ask you standard questions related to the area you’ve applied for. For example:

  1. What can you bring to our trust?
  2. How flexible are you and how do you feel if we asked you to move and work in a different ward/area?
  3. What are your weaknesses?
  4. Give us an example when you’ve ‘walked the extra mile’ to ensure that the patient’s wishes were respected.
  5. What would you do if a doctor told you to put Marmite on a patient’s wound? (Yep, I got that question on one of my interviews :P)
  6. What would you do if you found a patient laying on the floor in the bathroom?
  7. What would you do if you found an extra swab in a packet of 5 swabs during a surgery? (surgery related)
  8. What would you do if at your final count a swab was missing? (surgery related)
  9. What would you do if one of your patients deteriorated quickly, had tachycardia, hypotension, a chesty cough, clammy skin and pyrexia? (critical care/A&E related, think sepsis,guys!)
  10. How accommodating are you towards people from different  social, religious and cultural backgrounds?
  11. How do you deal with stress?
  12. What are the values of our trust?

The list only goes on, however, remember to always stop and think for a second before answering. Be honest and give a relevant answer that answers the question fully.

Finally, ask them any questions you have. Remember that as a newly-qualified nurse you are in no position of bribing, however, you need to remember the importance to negotiate, for example, will the salary while you’re waiting for your pin be paid as a band 3 or a band 4, will there be a 2, 3, or 6 month preceptorship, how long will you be allowed to be supernumerary, for how many patients will you be expected to look after if you start on a ward (no more than 8!!!), are there rotations available and so forth.  After the interview wait for an official letter to arrive in your mailbox saying: ‘Congratulations, you’ve just nailed the job!’

Good luck everyone!

A day in the life of a scrub nurse

I have one week left to spend in emergency theatres and my 12-week placement is close to its end. Scrub nursing initially sparked my interest in year one, when I spent two week in orthopaedic theatres watching hip and knee replacements all day, every day. In module 5 we were asked which area we would like to have our placement in and I immediately knew I wanted to go back into theatres.

Emergency theatres provide 24/7 care to emergency and obstetric patients. The shift pattern in emergency theatres varies. For example, shifts can be: 0730-1800, 1230-2115, 1800-0200, 2100-0800  and cover weekdays, weekends and bank holidays. The majority of the shifts I did were 0730 until 1800.

I arrived at 0725 and went to changing room to put scrubs on along with a green hat (green for student) to keep my hair away. I look a little bit like a boy 😀

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Then I went to the theatre where I met my mentor. We checked the cases on the emergency list and familiarized ourselves with the plan for the day.  In the morning we do a lot of routine cleaning and stocking. We prepare the surgical sets along with the extra bits and bobs (sutures, extra instruments, etc.) each surgeon prefers for their case. Once the first patient was brought in to the anaesthetic room I began to scrub up for a plastics case (repair of lacerated tendon on hand). Scrubbing up involves washing my hands thoroughly in a specific way for about 5 min, then putting a mask, gown and gloves on. I normally end up looking something like this:

 

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I then moved close to my sterile field and began organizing my trolley with all the surgical instruments. The role of the scrub nurse is quite different from the traditional nurse on a ward. The scrub nurse is responsible for ensuring patient safety checks have been done, maintaining the sterility of the field and count all sharps, swabs and instruments before and after the operation, ensuring no foreign bodies have been retained inside the patient. In addition, he/she has to ensure all equipment needed for a case, such as suctioning, diathermy, camera, flush, etc. is working properly. The scrub nurse will also assist the surgeon with prepping and draping, handling surgical instruments and removing excess instruments from the sterile field. It is vital to focus on what the surgeon is doing and wait for signals on what he/she might need next. At the end of a procedure all safety checks and relevant documentation must be completed.  Sharps should be disposed of as per local policy while instrument sets are placed in a disposal hold for collection after all instruments have been counted correctly. The patient is transferred from theatres to recovery where the scrub nurse would hand over the care.

Surgeries can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Theatres are cleaned by staff between each surgery and preparation for the next case begins. Normally after a surgery you will have a break when you can have your lunch.In the afternoon surgical cases will continue while staff will rotate as either being scrubbed up or circulating, while others will be relieved for breaks. At the end of the day the whole theatre will be cleaned and staff will stock up.There is great skill mix within surgical theatres, hence it’s a dynamic and exciting environment to work in.

 

Sorry, for the wait..

 It’s been a long while since I have posted. I was busy writing my dissertation and doing full-time placement at the same time. Currently, I’m in module 5 and have two weeks of placement (in Emergency theaters) left. From now on, I will give my best to post regularly as usual, after regaining my inspiration and normal life back.

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In early December I started applying for jobs. The very first hospital I applied at invited me to an interview, and after passing the numeracy and literacy test I was turned down because I lacked experience, regardless of the fact that they knew I’m a student qualifying in 2017. It was a disappointing, yet valuable experience for future interviews to come. I am hopeful that I will find a job in a specialist area even without the experience a lot of hospitals desire. I am interested in one-to-one care and cannot imagine myself working on a ward looking after 13-18 patients.

Soon after, in January, I submitted my dissertation. It was a dreadful and daunting task but I managed to write over 7, 500 words and submit it 30 minutes before the deadline. 😀 Phew.. I didn’t proofread it properly, hence, a few typos make me a bit worried about my result, however, I keep reassuring myself that ‘done is better than perfect!’ I am yet to find out what my result is.

At present, I am in the process of writing my 3, 000 words reflection essay based on my learning from placement and I have less than two weeks left to finish it. This piece of work is formative, hence it is less stressful to write compared to the dissertation.

I am also still applying for jobs and seeking opportunities in specialist areas in London. It is the place I want to move to and live in the near future. Wish me luck because I need it! 😛

Massive thanks goes to my lovely husband who kept me sane through these rough winter months!

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