Casey - Intensive care nursing

Master of Advanced Clinical Nursing

Registered nurse Casey believes her graduate studies have enhanced her skills to plan, assess, implement and evaluate health care for her patients, contributing to increased patient safety and improved health outcomes for individuals.

Advanced Clinical Nursing student

Why did you decide to further your studies?

"Since commencing my career in nursing, I have strived to further my skills and knowledge base, as I’m a true believer that every day we can learn something new, particularly in this evolving profession. Florence Nightingale herself once said “let us never consider ourselves finished nurses… we must be learning all of our lives”.

I remember commencing in Intensive Care as a Graduate Nurse being in awe of the skill and knowledge of the CCRN’s. Some in particular really motivated and inspired me to commence postgraduate studies and have shaped my nursing practise forever. I aspire to be the approachable, supportive and resourceful nurse they were to me, when I first started as a novice nurse in the unit and hope I can make the same contribution to someone else’s career. I hope to contribute to my unit further and explore other roles within the unit such as Team Leader with more time and experience."

What is most challenging about undertaking further study?

"I anticipated prior to commencement there would be some challenges that I would face and that I would have to adapt to the increased work and study load. Facing graduate studies with the added challenge of COVID-19 was very unique and challenging in itself. I had to learn to adapt to online learning, alteration to protocols at work, alteration to our study days and face to face learning whilst navigating new and advanced topics and content. Besides the added challenges we’re all facing this year; I believe the same principles apply in managing challenges faced in postgrad year with or without the pandemic.

I’ve found writing assignments and the physical assessment parts of the course to be the most challenging, for me as soon as the word ‘assessment’ is mentioned I get anxious. So, for me I’ve had to adapt and learn to take a deep breath and be confident in myself."

Can you describe a part of your course when you remember having that ‘lightbulb’ moment?

"On several occasions I’ve experienced those “oh” moments where concepts and ideas have clicked which has been amazing to know that my knowledge base has expanded. Much of my nursing practise has focused on the ‘how’, how we implement, how we assess and how we plan our care. This graduate course has encouraged me to go beyond this and further examine ‘why’. Why we are choosing this intervention vs another, why we are giving this medication vs another. This has been really motivating for me personally as I’ve found myself more confident in my assessment findings and have improved recognition of change in my patient."

What has surprised you about your graduate studies?

"I generally didn’t anticipate how much confidence I would develop this year, particularly advocating for my patient. I have realised this year that I lacked a lot of confidence, factorised by my level of nursing experience and being so young.

I find myself only halfway through my graduate course and have developed so much more confidence in my ability to question interventions, question care plans and have found I have assisted in improving patient outcomes and potentially reducing patients’ time spent in hospital. My goal is to further expand this confidence and continue to trust myself and my skills."

What has been your biggest sense of achievement during your grad studies?

"One moment I’m very proud of was how I managed and completed my patient assessment competency. My particular patient I had for my assessment was very complex from a behavioural point of view, and demonstrated many challenges to care. I was able to identify the main issues, recognise why these were issues, prioritise and shape my care to advocate for their needs ultimately avoiding an unnecessary MRI scan and earlier extubation. I felt my learnings had influenced my recognition into my patients’ issues and I was able to shape my care accordingly, which avoided another day ventilated and decreased his length of hospital stay for my patient. I advocated for my patient, which lead to a great outcome all while completing my competency which was very rewarding."

Have your grad studies changed your practice?

"I believe it has improved many aspects of my nursing practise. The course has enhanced my skills to plan, assess, implement and evaluate health care for my patients, contributing to increased patient safety, improved health outcomes for individuals. The additional knowledge I’ve developed has improved my confidence, enhanced my ability to advocate for my patients and contributed to improvements in patient outcomes.

…And any hints or tips for other nursing students?

"I would encourage anyone to apply. Again, I believe that you never stop learning in our profession and it’s very fulfilling to know that we can make further contributions and improvements to patient’s health outcomes. Some tips I have to manage obstacles and challenges are:

  • Stay organised, stay prepared and stay ahead.
  • Identify your learning style early and apply techniques to best manage and retain content (ie: I’m a visual learner – YouTube was my saviour).
  • Every patient is a learning opportunity and utilise each day wisely.
  • There will be days that pose more challenges then other days, embrace the challenge and learn from it, these challenges will shape you and your practise even more.
  • Throw yourself out of your comfort zone (keeping in your scope) and trust your abilities.
  • Ask questions and question everything– talk to previous post grad students, clinical educators, the university, multidisciplinary teams. Ask the ‘why’. I found previous graduate students loved to share information with you as this helps them consolidate information.
  • Self care – find what you love and do it, take breaks, treat yourself and relax and unwind when you need to. You won’t retain anything if you force yourself to keep studying so breaks and self care time is essential."

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