My Clinical Elective in Croydon 2020

by:  Jenny McPhail, Edinburgh Napier University

In February 2020, during the final year of my nursing training at Napier University in Edinburgh, we were given the opportunity to arrange a four-week elective placement out with Lothian. This could take place anywhere in the world, however it had to be an approved placement, with the appropriate supervision and had to be arranged by ourselves. Ever since I began the course in 2017 I had been keen to undertake an elective in order to experience how another health board functions. I made the decision to organise my elective at Croydon University Hospital partly due to its proximity to my sister’s house where I planned to stay, but I also chose Croydon hospital for more academic reasons. It is a large hospital with many specialities and covers a multicultural population south of London. I chose to spend my placement on a joint Cardiology and Haematology ward.

On my first day I was welcomed by Edith, the hospital’s placement coordinator, who gave me an induction and a tour of the hospital, after which she introduced me to the Nurse in Charge of the ward, Jolene. From that first day I felt welcomed and supported. The ward was always full of patients and often hectic however the nursing team were highly motivated and ensured that I was involved with all aspects of their patient’s care. There were several differences between Croydon hospital and the hospitals in which I have worked in Lothian. For example, the patient’s medication charts were managed on the hospital’s computer system, instead of on paper, which helped reduce nurse medication errors and meant that they could quickly look up unknown medications, which I found very helpful. I also came across patients with Sickle Cell Disease, which is relatively rare in Scotland but more common in the Croydon area due to the large African and Caribbean population. My knowledge of cardiac care, haematology conditions and medications were increased significantly during this placement, which will be beneficial for me in future practice.
Although the final week of my placement was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, I was able to organise many learning opportunities during the first three weeks. I spent a day in the Cath Lab watching procedures such as stent implantations and angioplasties, and a day working with the Cardiac Care Unit team where they taught me how to do ECGs. I also had the opportunity to shadow the Heart Failure Nurses and a Tissue Viability Nurse, which allowed me to visit different wards in the hospital and become familiar with specialist nursing roles.
I am so grateful I was able to have this experience, especially prior to the Covid-19 pandemic which paused all student placements. It was an invaluable learning experience which has increased my confidence and opened my eyes to other areas of nursing and healthcare settings out with Lothian. Thank you to the staff at Croydon University Hospital for enabling this opportunity and the Pelican Nurses’ League for supporting me financially.