On Saturday night I returned from my trip to China to learn about traditional Chinese medicine. I love the trip and really did not want to return home. We spent weekdays in lectures and on trips to museums to increase our knowledge about the different herbs and techniques that they use. Nearing the end of our trip we were aloud to practice acupuncture and a practice called cupping, which involves burning cotton with 90% alcohol, placing it into a jar to remove the oxygen and then sticking it to someones back. Anyone who is a student nurse or just knows about Britain’s health and safety policies would know that student nurses don’t often get to practice on each other as it is considered abuse. This is probably a good thing as by the end of the session half of the class looked like they had been abused, they were covered in burns/Hickeys all over their backs. We had no acupuncture training, expect for an hour introduction power point to it and even less to cupping. 

I am on the fence about traditional Chinese medicine as there is very little scientific research into it and we were just told stories which often sounded very far fetched. What i gathered from Chinese medicine is that they treat the symptoms, they are not interested in someones chest infection or cold, they just want to know how they feel and then they decide what herbs to give them. 

We visited a western hospital which also practiced traditional Chinese medicine while we were in China. I could not take photos inside of the hospital but this is what I found outside. ImageImageImage


These beds weren’t old ones that weren’t being used, I saw porters dropping off these beds and wheeling them into the hospital. There are so many reasons why these beds should be thrown out. The mattresses are so thin that patients are very likely to develop pressure ulcers, the mattresses are worn away to the foam, which means that bacteria could be living inside of it. its very hard to clean properly and they are keeping them outside/ in a dirty old shed 

We were taking to two different places in the hospital, the first was a burns and cosmetic surgery unit. We met a very kind doctor who explained to us about the different types of care given and about the different patients that they had at the time. We asked whether he used traditional Chinese medicine in his practice and he told us there was no place for it in burns. Bare in mind that there was 20 of us in our group, after being split into two, We were then shown three different patients. The first patient had 70% burns and was covered head to toe in bandages. The sexond was a 3 year old child who had lived on a farm, the parents had been burning the grass and thought that the fires had stopped but they sparked up again and the child was burnt. He had over 50% burns to his body and the first thing I noticed was his fingers, they didn’t resemble fingers, they looked like blackened stubs. We were told that he would eventually have them amputated. The doctor told us that it was very uncommon for farmers to bring their sick/injured children to hospital, especially in the case of the child. They usually let them die because they cannot afford to keep someone who cannot pull their weight around the farm. This broke my heart because I could not imagine having to make such a hard decision to either watch my child die or watch the rest of the family suffer. 

The third patient was working in a factory when there was an explosion, he suffered 90% burns and the only part that hadn’t been burnt was his stomach. He had been on the unit for 2 months and had atleast another month to go. He had undergone 10 operations and still had many more to come but he would never look like himself again, he would probably never be able to work again. All of the patients were lying under what looked like a sunbed suspended from the ceiling, these were designed to prevent the patients from getting hypothermia as they skin was so damaged the temperature controls don’t work in the same way anymore.


We then went to a dermatology ward where the doctors practice traditional Chinese medicine. My first impression of the ward was not a good one. There were atleast 10 patients on beds in the corridors and it didn’t look like a temporary thing, they were surrounded by their belongings. The doctors did not show us around the ward but wanted to practice a technique called bleeding on us. I showed them my arms and asked if there were any herbs I could take to make the skin smoother and they replied “well I don’t know if bleeding will work, I could make it worse but I want to try anyway” they seemed to be only interested in bleeding patients. It involves cutting the top of a patients ears and letting blood out for a few minutes. I was willing to try until another nursing student pointed out to me that they had not seen them wash their hands after their other patient and I didn’t think the risk was worth it. The doctors did not seem to be doing a great deal with their patients, most of the care seemed to be provided by the patients family. 

I really enjoyed my trip to China and it has changed the way that I think about many different things. Life experiences are what make nurses better at their jobs. 

Infectious diarrhea germs stick to healthcare worker hands

Monica Murdock, RN

Nursing_January1A new study finds nearly one in four healthcare workers’ hands were contaminated with Clostridium difficile spores after routine care of patients infected with the bacteria. The study was published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

“This is the first known study focusing on the carriage of viable C. difficile spores on healthcare workers hands,” said Caroline Landelle, PharmD, PhD, lead author of the study. “Because C. difficile spores are so resistant and persistent to disinfection, glove use is not an absolute barrier against the contamination of healthcare workers’ hands. Effective hand hygiene should be performed, even in non-outbreak settings.”

Researchers compared hand contamination rates among healthcare workers caring for patients with C. difficile with healthcare workers caring for non-colonized patients after routine patient care and before hand hygiene. All patients with C. difficile were…

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Abortion- 1 in 3 women

1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they are 50 years of age. I want to get rid of the stigma that is attached to women who have abortions. Most people who I have spoken to since I have been on placement at the clinic asked if I saw a lot of teenage girls and each time I told them that the majority of women that I met were over the age of 20 and already had children. Each lady had a different story and different reasons having an abortion, but the stories were often similar, they already had children and felt that they could not support another child.

I did come across women who had not been taking contraception at all or forgot to take it everyday but most of the ladies I spoke to were on a form of contraception and it had failed them. The only 100% contraception there is, is not having sex and well, that isn’t the most easiest thing to do.

I came across a woman in her early twenties who i found out had, had several abortions over the last few years. After each termination she tried a new contraception and none of them had worked for her. This was not her fault in anyway and you cannot judge her for continuing to have sex because she was a girl in her early twenties trying to enjoy her life like everyone else. I really felt for her and the mental trauma she must have experienced after each termination.

Abortions are not something women undertake easily, each woman will deal with it in a different way. I met a young girl who claimed that she had gotten pregnant without actually having intercourse. She was very intelligent and went into great detail explaining to us how she got pregnant  but she was very nervous and I could tell she was scared that we were judging her. Personally, I did not judge her but I did spent most of the consultation trying to work out how she had gotten pregnant without actually having sex and after speaking to other health professionals came to the conclusion that most probably she did have sex but was just embarrassed. Her way of coping was to talk none stop and going into great detail about her life, other women I met hardly said a word and made it very clear that they wanted to leave as quickly as possible.

Before i started my placement I did not disagree with abortions but I did not want to know anything about them. While i was working my respect for women who came to the clinic increased everyday, they put themselves through a  massive emotional trauma to ensure that their families did not suffer or go without.  If you have not personally had a termination, then the chances are that you will know someone who has, or will do sometime in their life. Please do not judge them, they will need a lot of support and love for a long time afterwards. If you have had one, then remember that it was the best decision for you and don’t let others get you down.

This will be my last post for a few weeks as I am going to China tomorrow to learn about traditional Chinese Medicine, when i get back I am starting my new placement, it will be the first time I have worked in a hospital!.

Over the past two years, there has been an uproar in the media about end of life care, most of it surrounding the Liverpool care pathway. We did not use the end of life care pathway but a very similar one. 

I want to dispel rumors and gossip about end of life care, we never withheld food or drink and even made allowances for patients who wanted to have a few beers or smoke. Often once a patient stopped eating their favorite food or asking for a beer before bed, it was obvious that their body had started to decline and they would pass away shortly afterwards.  A time comes when the human body cannot process food or drink anymore and it often does more harm than good.

I looked after a man who suffered from an inoperable brain tumour which had spread into his bones, which i had been told is an unbelievable pain. Due to the brain tumour his personality had changed from what his family was used to and he could be rude and forgetful, though on the whole a nice man. He was a smoker who before he was in the home smoked atleast 30 a day. He was used to smoking whenever he wanted and found it very hard to remember that he wasn’t allowed to smoke inside the building. I remember many occasions of me wheeling him outside in the freezing cold so he could have a cigarette, he of course was wrapped up warm and I was just in my uniform freezing my butt off. It got to the stage that when you walked up the corridor to his room, you could always smell smoke coming out of it and you would find him half asleep with a lit fag in his hand. In the end we had to take them off him and get him to ask when he wanted to go outside however he started asking less and less and towards the end he wouldn’t even ask once a day. He passed away two days after he stopped asking to smoke. 

I am sorry about the depressing posts but, I am asked all the time about my placements and I think it is easier to explain my experiences on here.

My first placement- End of life care

This post isn’t going to be the happiest, upbeat post so only read if your up to it. 

I remember sitting in my room excitingly logging on to the internet to find out where my first ever placement was. I cannot explain how excited I was. Once I found out, that excitement was replaced with anxiety and fear. As a 19 year old girl, I had known very little death and was scared of it. I had never seen a dead body and I really didn’t think I would be able to cope with it. I had become a nurse to help save lives, i understood that end of life care was important but just never saw myself doing it. 

One of the worst parts of working there was coming in after a weekend off and someone telling you that a resident had past away, then seeing their family members who often I knew very well after weeks of visits, coming in to pay their last respects and to collect belongings. You struggle to know what to say or to do, especially at the start. 

One experience that stands out the most in my mind is a gentleman who’s condition had been slowly deteriorating. His family adored him and visited him everyday and he had made a real impact on all of the staff.  I remember going home at the end of my shift and popping my head around the door to say good night to his wife, she was a lovely lady and was totally dedicated to her husband, who had decided to stay over night to be with him. The next day when I got to work, I went straight from hanging up my coat and went to see the gentleman. This was unusual as I usually went and sat with the staff before starting. I walked into his room and said good morning to his wife and asked how she was, she was clearly very upset and exhausted so i gave her a hug. I turned around to see how the gentleman was and found that he had passed away and was lying their peacefully. It was a real shock to my system, as i had not spoken to any of the staff yet. I managed to compose myself and continue to give support to his wife but it really shook me to my core. 

The first time I washed a patient was awful, I had no idea what I was doing and had been told by a member of staff that I would be alright and then they walked of. The resident had dementia and a whole list of other conditions which led her to be in the end of life home. I undressed her, helped her on to the washing chair and covered her with a towel to keep her warm. I quickly found out that washing someone else, especially with dementia is hard work. She was very confused and at one point threw her arm out which knocked the shower hose out of my hands and totally soaked me. She then tried to get up out of her chair and really did not want to get dressed afterwards. This experience showed me that I was totally unprepared for washing a patient on my own and that I needed help. When I finally emerged with a soaking uniform, i think the other members of staff realized that too. 

The placement on a whole was a great learning experience and I felt privileged to be able to make the end of life experiences for the residents as peaceful and comfortable as possible. Everyday there was something to be sad about but also something to laugh about. The staff there were amazing and really cared about who they were looking after. 

What a year!


I am a second year student nurse and I have started a blog to share my experiences. Follow me throughout my next two years of training. If my second year if anything like my first, you will be reading about all of the amazing things that I get to witness on a day to day basis however there will also be tears and loss.