One Year as a Newly Qualified Nurse

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I recently hit a pretty big milestone; I managed to make it through a whole year as a qualified nurse (without losing my registration). That’s a joke but I can honestly say there’s not a day passes at work where I don’t panic about it. The past year has been a rollercoaster ride. Being a mental health nurse is filled with so many highs and lows and my brain usually feels like mush by the day of the end. It’s such a cliché but there’s truly nothing I’d rather be doing (except living in a campervan with two dogs). But there’s nothing I’d realistically rather be doing.

To mark the occasion I wanted to share just some of the things I’ve learnt in the last year.

  1. You realise quickly how little university prepared you for being a nurse.
  2. But on the other hand, you realise that uni put the fear of God into you about how ‘terrifying’ nursing is, when in reality, good organisation, a calm mentality and listening skills make up most of the job.
  3. You’re allowed to make mistakes – just own up to them immediately.
  4. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
  5. If you’re ever considering whether a patient needs their physical observations taking, then yes they do.
  6. Force yourself to do the things you are scared of. There will be shifts where you’re the only person qualified to do them.
  7. Listen to your healthcare assistants – they are the backbone of your ward/hospital/community service.
  8. Familiarise yourself with death, you will see it even if you think you don’t work in that environment.
  9. Learn your team’s strengths and weaknesses. “Oh you don’t deal with vomit? That’s great because I’m not good with spit.”
  10. Ask for help. There are no stupid questions. Nursing is about life long learning.
  11. Listen to patients, to relatives, to staff. Listen to everyone and listen actively.
  12. Find a pair of shoes that you can walk around in for 14 hours a day.
  13. Take your breaks. Nobody thinks you’re a superior nurse because you went a whole day without eating anything.
  14. Take every opportunity to learn something new.
  15. You’re going to feel like you’re not good enough approximately 5 million times a day. Even experienced nurses feel like this. It’s a good thing that means we want the best for our patients.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from your job?

Rachel x-x-x


June in Review

Seeing as my last post was almost a month ago, I thought I owed No Space For Milk a little life update. So here are a few things that have happened since I last posted because June was a pretty busy month.

I moved out

Last week I moved out of the best little place I’ve ever lived. It will always have a special place in my heart as the first place that Brandon and I lived together and I’ll miss its weird blue lighting in the bathroom, and the fact that it was constantly the same temperature of hell.

I got a job

June was the month I had three job interviews and then had to make some difficult decisions as I received three job offers. I’ve now finally decided which job to take and I can’t wait to start it come September.

I started my final nursing placement 

The relief of being offered a job turned quite quickly into panic when I realised that was actually only 11 weeks from qualifying as a nurse as I’ve just started my final placement. 11 weeks has now turned into 9 and the terror is definitely setting in.

I visited Germany 

I’ve been desperate to go back to Germany since I lived there in 2014 but for one reason or another it never came to fruition until last month. My uni friend and I visited our other friend who now lives in Germany permanently and we spent the most wonderful weekend in Köln, drinking Kölsch by the river, seeing Germany win one of their World Cup matches and eating our weight in waffles. I also happened upon a Köln section of Primark which was obviously very exciting and came away with some very touristy clothing.

I discovered my new home 

Last, but definitely not least, I visited the South West which will become my new home from September. I visited Bristol, Taunton and Bridgwater with Exeter being the next stop on my South West tour. I can safely say I love it down there and have already become rather fond of the Somerset accent.

What did you get up to in June? Let me know in the comments!



Why Reflection is Important

When you’re a nursing student, life without reflection doesn’t exist. Each day we’re supposed to take half an hour to reflect on our practice, so what initially started as a way for me to reflect on my nursing practice and deal with difficulties I was facing, has turned into reflecting on all aspects of my life.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t reflect for half an hour each day because that’s just quite a long time really isn’t it? But I definitely reflect at least a couple of times a week on average.

Reflection is all about making a conscious effort to look at an activity or event in retrospect and understand what went well and what didn’t. This means that you can work out how to do something better next time or help others to do the same activity.

To make this a bit more applicable to real life, here are some times when I use reflection to better myself:

  • Reflecting on my day as a whole – what went well, what didn’t? Is it something I can change?
  • Relationships – Am I giving enough to my friendships and am I getting something out of them?
  • Fitness – Have I been fuelling my body well and exercising? If not, why not?
  • Mental Health – Is it good or bad right now? Has something changed? Can I do something to change this?

Why is reflection so good?

  • Reflection helps to learn from your mistakes and improve for next time. I’m always striving to do better so it’s a really good way of looking what you’ve done in a rational way, to see what the next steps are, rather than pushing yourself too hard.
  • Reflection really helps me to stop beating myself up. I am prone to blaming myself for the slightest mistake but when I can reflect I’m better able to see that things aren’t always my fault!
  • A great thing about reflection is that it’s scheduled times which lets you think things over so that worries about your day don’t seep into your leisure time.
  • For me, reflection really aids my creativity. It’s the best time for thinking up new ideas and feeling that lovely feeling of being able to do anything.

What do I do?

Whilst there are lots of different frameworks you can use for guidance (Check out: Borton’s 1970 Framework Guiding Reflective Activities or Gibbs, 1988) I prefer a less structured approach.

I’ll take some quiet time to myself, maybe in the bath or post yoga. Rather than just sitting and thinking, I prefer to write things down because it helps me organise my thoughts, so for, journaling and reflection are really interlinked. But the nice thing about reflection is that there’s no set way to do it and any reflection on yourself will aid personal growth and help you feel more in control of your life and happiness.

Do you use reflection in everyday life? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x



Inane Ramblings and a Quarter Life Crisis

Today I nearly applied for 2 jobs: one at GCHQ and one for a coffee retailer.

That probably doesn’t sound that strange except that I’m halfway through my second degree, training to be a nurse. But you see, I was having a panic.

Every day I go to placement and hear how disillusioned NHS healthcare workers are. They don’t get paid enough for their time, the caseloads are huge and your requests for flexitime working are rejected at every turn.

I’m worried I’m getting disillusioned before my career even starts. And when I think about the job I want in the end, it panics me that that probably won’t be achievable for another 5 or 6 years. I’ll be 30 by then.

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.

So then I start to think maybe this isn’t what I want.

But what do I want?

I would love to be self employed, maybe blog full time. Or I’d like to be a writer. But I really do want to be a nurse and eventually a psychotherapist.

And I want to be home enough to have dogs that I can walk and spend lots of time with which isn’t going to be all that viable as a nurse.

So is that what I want?

I also want to be able to read as many books as I can, travel as far and wide as possible, eat at all the local and far away restaurants and build my own house.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Are these dreams or goals?

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m scared that I won’t be able to achieve everything that I want to in this lifetime and that I’m not sure what I want careerwise. And is that okay? To not know what I want? Is this purely a ‘millennial’ issue? We have a lot of choices now but somehow that only makes it harder.

Most people that I know are in graduate schemes, saving up enough money for their first deposit and working every day. And as much as I’d like to be in their shoes, I’m also not sure I would?

If you’ve read this then thanks because I’m not really sure where I was going with it other than to share that I’m just really not sure what I want out of life yet. If you can relate to this, leave me a comment so we can all panic together!

Rachel x-x-x