About our placement in Penrith…
Working as a nursing student for the National Health Services in Cumbria…
In April 2016, we moved to Penrith in North Cumbria for 6 weeks to do our placement at the Community Hospital in Penrith.
Penrith is a smaller town within the Cumbria county in the North of the United Kingdom. Cumbria is situated nearby the Lake District – a National Park Area with a fabulous landscape and a unique nature experience.
First, we lived at Tynedales Bed & Breakfast. Later, we found an attic flat, that was let by a young couple, to live in for the rest of our stay.
The Penrith Community Hospital is a small hospital inside the Cumbria Partnership of NHS run by the NHS Foundation Trust. There is a ward with 28 beds, a Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) with enhanced diagnostic testing for adults, a Minor Injury Unit (MIU), a Physiotherapy department, an out-patient service provided by Extended Scope Practitioners and Hospice services in the day care facility.
The Ward Manager Ann-Taylor, who was responsible for the exchange in Penrith, was very dedicated to provide us a really interesting placement by letting us rotate through all the units in the hospital. Thus, we received an overview about various parts of the hospital and different other medical professions.
I started my training by working on the Community for two weeks with one of the district nurses, called Lynn. It is likely the same as “Ambulanter Pflegedienst” in Germany. In difference to Germany, it was not our task to wash people. Our tasks were to care about diabetics, palliative and geriatric patients, give insulin injections, make special wound dressings for patients and care about urinary catheters and sorts of drainages. A really positive thing was, that the time frame for our tasks was much bigger than in Germany and we spent a lot of time talking to patients about their needs and situations. Furthermore, the work was more patient-centered. On Thursdays, I spent the day in the day care facility, which offers a hospice service once a week. The staff had really creative ideas to prepare a program, for example theme parties like celebrating the Queen’s Birthday for the old and ill people.
In the third week, I was working in the Outpatient Unit likely the same as “Ambulanz” in Germany. There were many different clinics every day with consultants having various specializations as well as practitioner nurses offering their own clinics. I had the opportunity to sit in treatment room with the doctors to listen to their anamneses survey. One day, I spent in the x-ray department or watched an ultrasound or EMG survey.
After this, I spent two weeks at the ward. There were mostly geriatric patients. The first thing that made myself conspicuous, was the much better staff ratio then in Germany. The ward Ann-Taylor ensured that I worked together with a wide variety of people with different professions like health carers, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurse practitioners, general practitioners and doctors in an interdisciplinary team.
Finally, I spent my last week on the minor injuries unit. Working in this department, I had a `hands-on` experience in the triage room seeing how the nurses prioritize patients. I also watched the work of doctors and practitioner’s nurses again. Also, I learned how to write an ECG and what a Rickham Catheter is.
We met many really nice and lovely people throughout our placement and we were welcomed very well by all of the staff members at Penrith Hospital. Ann was a great supervisor during our placement. She also organized a night out in a local pub for us with some of the Penrith hospital staff as a fun ice breaker.
There were three German Nurse students in Penrith at the same time – Hanna from Hannover, Ann-Kathrin and me. Ann-Taylor gave us the weekends off. So we had the opportunity to go to Scotland twice and to visit both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Moreover, we have seen other surrounding Cities like Carlisle and York. We also went hiking in the Lake District and really enjoyed the fantastic nature and landscape.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Penrith working at the Hospital and 6 weeks passed too quickly. It was a pleasure to meet all the people and learning a lot about the differences for a nurse in Germany in comparison to English nurses.
In my opinion, it was a great chance to do this placement in the United Kingdom learning a lot about the Health Care System there. Besides, I could improve my language skills especially in medical terminology. This is important for me, because I can now communicate with foreign patients in Germany more professional and precise than before. I don`t want to miss this experience in my training and I achieved a lot for my future career as a nurse.