Issue 2

Day in the Life of a Staff Nurse

Roll call, 5.30 a.m. The alarm clock bugles it's insistence that I have responsibilities outside of this warm bed. Having self-medicated sufficiently with caffeine and nicotine, I've fired up Diane (my car) and am on the road. I'd like to add "with a sense of anticipation of the day ahead", but frankly, at this stage it's all I can do to travel up the M4 in the right direction.

At the handover, bleary-eyed night staff attempt to do justice to each patient before an audience of equally bleary-eyed morning staff. By 7.30, humanity is setting in. Where would we be without adrenalin? Still in bed probably. Priority number one – make sure patient's observation needs are met, then analyse the shift's unique requirements and allocate responsibilities.

It's a CTM (Clinical Team Meeting) day, and there's an outstanding nursing report to be written. Nurses at the Caswell Clinic do a lot of writing. Never in the field of human healthcare has so much been written to so many by so few, to paraphrase a certain Great Briton. All good stuff though – focuses the mind and engenders accountability. Later, I get to attend the CTM and enjoy the phenomenon of harmonious minds working together as though to produce a single, beatific chord. Heavenly. Quite a good outcome for our patients I feel, and look forward to feeding back to those who didn't attend themselves.

A typical day will see many disciplines at work on the ward. This leads me to muse over what makes us different. Is it just the name; nurse, doctor, O.T., patient, social worker, psychologist? We're all just folks, aren't we? There was a time when nurses did absolutely everything, down to purchasing food and cooking all the meals on the ward. Many areas of work once undertaken by nursing staff have now become the preserve of O.T.s (bless 'em). A doctor, of necessity, will be concerned primarily with the illness itself, and in using her special skills to attack the disorder at it's heart.

Nurses, on the other hand, are more concerned with symptoms. Specifically, our special role is to stand with the person and help him deal with those symptoms, minimizing the negative effects and finding new ways to regain quality of life.

I've been around long enough to know as a certainty that Caswell's nursing team, both qualified and unqualified, are a very special group of people. Add to that an in-house commitment to a genuine multi-disciplinary work ethic, an abiding belief that the system exists for the patient and not vice-versa, and not forgetting our dedicated support staff (them "upstairs") , patients can feel confident that they are receiving a level of care that is among the highest the people's Health Service has to offer.

Now, just before you dash off to find a kidney bowl or sickbag, allow me first to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas – the drinks are on you!

Mal Shears Staff Nurse