Attempting To Broaden My Experience (and earn some extra money)

I’ve been meaning to join my Trust’s bank for months, and this week I’ve finally got round to it. For those who are unfamiliar with temporary staffing in the NHS, staff who want to do extra shifts can join their Trust’s ‘staffbank’ which is large directory of staff who can sign up to cover shifts unfilled throughout the Trust’s hospitals.

I thought that with potentially a med school interview or two on the horizon it would do me good to be able to talk about the role of medical professionals outside of A&E.

I did my first shift today and it was in the Labour ward! I was really excited before I arrived; I thought that I would be able to help out with the cannulation (not of the newborns, just the mothers!) and observations of mother and child, and work closely with the midwives and doctors and pick up knowledge of a speciality very far removed from my A&E experience.

My day was actually incredibly dull and disappointing. The healthcare assistant role on the Labour ward isn’t actually a health or a care role. You’re a cleaner; you mop bloody floors and change bloody sheets after mum and baby have vacated rooms. And that’s it. There’s nothing wrong with being a cleaner, but that wasn’t the role I’d signed up to do. It was mind-numbing and frankly pretty disgusting (which in itself is often a natural part of the HCA role, but when there’s no patient interaction with it, you don’t get that fulfilled feeling inside). When I was coming to the end of my eight hour shift, they asked me if I’d stay on and do a 12.5 hour shift instead – I politely declined. It is a very necessary job, but not one that I would recommend for anyone who is looking to assist with health or care. I’ve cancelled my shift there tomorrow.

I’ve signed up to work a shift in a Cardiac Catheter Lab next week which should be really exciting! Pretty much every patient they see there has had an myocardial infarction of some sort I think, I’m going to give them a ring before I go though because I want to understand what the role entails before I go – I don’t want it to be another experience like today was.

After tax, I probably made £50-60 today, which is worth having, but I could have made it somewhere else where I was actually making a direct difference to the patient experience. I will try not to make this mistake again.

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