I came from a strict Catholic background and was rather sheltered, so needless to say it was a shock to the system in my early days.
It was a very regimented training but you learned on the job and I grew up very quickly.
There were no physios or occupational therapists. You did it all – chest percussion to hand exercises. My first injection was given with a metal syringe and needle ¬- no disposables at the time.
I remember doing my first bed bath and I made sure that I engaged with my patient and let them know what we were doing.
I remember commenting to my classmate that our patient was not saying much, only to discover she had passed away halfway through.
That was one of many experiences during my first few weeks.
In those days you were given a lot more responsibility very early on.
On the first day of my second year of training on night duty I was in charge of a 30-bed medical ward with a preliminary nurse. RNs were in charge of a block of wards, I was reliever and had three different wards in the week.
On my first night on the male psych ward, Jesus apparently told one patient that I was Satan so he tried to strangle me. I swore then I would never work in mental health again.
I spent the next 20 years in general nursing and midwifery, but I eventually found my way back to mental health and 25 years later I am still here.
I am very proud of my 45-year career in nursing and midwifery and I’ve come a long way since I was that naïve girl with big dreams.
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