Celebrating UofG student and nurse on International Women's Day

Student Molly in PPE

For International Women's Day we are celebrating by sharing the story of one of our amazing #TeamUofG students. 

Molly is a UofG student and Intensive Care Nurse and in this blog she shares top tips about how she has managed her time over the last year as she juggles her studies with working on Scotland's Covid-19 wards. 

A challenging year

I have been an NHS critical care nurse for the past three years and I qualified when I was 20, understandably, this past year has been the most challenging yet.

Despite the physical and emotional challenges of treating Covid-19 patients, relaying difficult information to relatives over the phone, and being in PPE for hours; we developed a new sense of teamwork as our roles and workloads had significantly transformed. We continue to learn from each other every shift and adapt our practice to reflect the evolving evidence - I remain inspired by my colleagues daily.

I began the MSc Advanced Practice in Healthcare programme in November 2020, and I have since decreased my working hours to part-time. I have included some of my top tips that I frequently apply to manage my time.

Yearly planner

Always wake up with a plan for the day!

Personally, I have a wall planner next to my bed and I have specifically marked in my nursing shifts, university days, and deadlines for the entire year if able.

Ensure that you give yourself enough time to work at your own pace in order to produce high-quality results. There should be no rush, so begin working on your deadlines as soon as possible whilst managing your own energy.

I definitely do not complete any work after nightshifts so will designate time in the evening and vice versa. Be flexible and adapt your timetable to suit your high and low energy times, it doesn’t need to be 9-5.

Allow time for relaxation, ‘no time off’ culture is toxic

When scrolling through social media, you see many people glamourising burn-out, emphasising that you need to get up at 4am to be successful and outwork everyone.

I have experience of balancing both work and study before when completing my final year of my undergraduate honour’s degree. I worked full-time shifts as a newly qualified critical care nurse in order to gain as much experience as I could, and I felt as if I was burning myself out trying to maintain both full-time - It was not sustainable.

Therefore, I highly recommend setting clear boundaries – create and stick to a routine if you can. Organise your yearly planner on your wall, set a realistic ‘to-do’ list, and always give yourself time off to do any tasks or hobbies that make you happy. Rest is equally as important as being productive!

Prioritisation

Working in ICU completely distracts me from university as my focus entirely becomes my patients that I am responsible for.

Throughout my practice, my priorities are constantly alternating, and I am always rapidly assessing new situations and their consequences if not completed timely.

With patient safety and quality being integral to my practice, I always ensure that I ask myself these questions - what task is the most important? Which patient is the most critically ill and requires my immediate attention?

Crucial duties such as administering medications and patient emergencies are certainly more important than some administrative tasks that could be undertaken during the next shift – it is not possible to complete everything at once.

Similarly, this is emulated when I am completing my university deadlines, the most imminent tasks should be first on your list, scheduled at the best time that is suitable to your body’s rhythm.

Self Care

Most importantly, if we want to make things better, we have to be better - look out for one another and make sure they are genuinely well.

Prioritise self-care! Go for a walk, have a bath, and put yourself first; your health is necessary for learning.


First published: 4 March 2021

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