Person caring for elderly patient

June 26, 2020, by stykjsk

The NHS: my experience

By Katy Skillen, MNutr Dietetics and Nutrition, second year student blogger

As lockdown is getting lifted, there is one aspect which I am actually going to miss. The weekly excitement of standing at our doorsteps on a Thursday night, waving at our neighbours and taking part in the ‘Clap for Carers’. It’s a time when we joined together to show our extensive gratitude and appreciation for all the amazing work the NHS staff are doing for us right now.

As a dietetics student, I am lucky enough to have placements within NHS hospitals. This time last year, I spent two weeks in a hospital in Lincoln. With all the focus the NHS is receiving, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I learnt during my work experience and what it is really like to work on the wards.

Teamwork is everything

Honestly, one of the things that stood out to me most was how much all the staff worked together. I spent time with so many people including doctors, nurses, carers, kitchen staff, and physiotherapists. I thought I would just be shadowing dietitians! Whether it’s structured team meetings or a quick chat on the wards, the collaboration between the workers, all united with the aim of helping people, is really admirable.

It is non-stop

At the end of each day, I literally collapsed, and (embarrassingly) had to go to bed before 9pm every night! NHS work is exhausting! I have the utmost respect for workers who, at the end of the day, return home to look after children, do housework, and cook dinner. Honestly, they must be superhuman.

Emotions run high

Maybe because it was my first placement, and I wasn’t really used to working in such a volatile environment, but I found it really emotional. Some interactions with patients can be heart-breaking and difficult. Others can be truly amazing and inspiring. Honestly, working in a hospital really makes every day an emotional rollercoaster.

Patients are the number one

Yes, this may seem obvious, but the patient-centred approach of healthcare is really special. Staff repeatedly check on patients, even when they don’t have to. They go to extreme lengths to make every patient feel valued, even when they are super busy. Despite how hectic the wards can get, the time, compassion and thoughtfulness given to each and every patient is never compromised.

Forging friendships

Observing the friendships between the staff was really lovely. A perk of sharing a workplace with hundreds of people means you are almost guaranteed to have plenty of friends! Staff  support each other, share experiences, and bond together during lunch breaks, which is pretty cool.

But most importantly…

Yes, working in the NHS is stressful. But there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a patient grow and recover. The smile on their face, and the joy from their families makes every second of those long days a hundred percent worth it. As clichéd as this sounds, I cannot imagine a more rewarding career path.

Like many forms of experience, some volunteering opportunities may currently be on hold. However, there are still ways to get involved.

Find out about opportunities available during COVID-19 and visit the Students’ Union’s volunteering site for the latest advice on NHS volunteering. 

Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your CareerStudent BloggersUncategorizedWork experience