How I Prepare For A Placement Block
I am now Year 3, and about to go into my penultimate ambulance placement block. Preparation for placement is important for making your life much smoother whilst on shift! A smooth home life definitely takes the stress off placement. Fortunately, I live with my boyfriend, so although we live in a house (with a garden which requires maintenance) and we are always busy keeping it ship-shape, we are able to share some of the housework. My boyfriend does a lot in the house, especially when I am on placement, so I am very lucky!
In the couple of weeks prior to placement, I cook larger meals than my boyfriend and I can physically eat. I portion them up, label them and put them in the freezer so that we both have meals if we are both busy when it comes to cooking dinner. My boyfriend is a teacher, so most of his evenings are taken up with lesson planning so we have more time together at the weekend. This is far cheaper than take-aways and ready-meals, and much healthier and nicer too! I meal plan each week taking my shifts into account so I can go food shopping and have enough food in the house for breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners.
I try to start placement with an empty laundry basket! I do as much washing as I can in the weeks before so that the drawers are full, and the basket is not. Obviously I still do washing when on placement, it is just a bit harder as I try to do all the laundry loads at night time (as we are on an economy 7 meter and the electricity rate is cheaper). I also make sure the ironing pile is empty before I go, as that means I can put off ironing (as it is really time consuming) for as long as possible!
The night before placement, I try to put all my kit in my bag. I already described this in one of my previous posts, but this is important to do before the day itself! I try to make sure it is packed every night before shift so I can just get up and go in the morning. This includes my lunch and snacks too. I always pack this the night before so I can pick it up in the morning as this is far cheaper than buying lunch every day!
If I have any essays or work outstanding, I try my best to get this over and done with as soon as possible as it is really difficult to write an essay whilst on placement! I have been known to edit an essay the morning after a night shift, when the essay is due in within 5 hours. Do not do this! It is an awful idea! Try and get as much done so your work load is much less and you can focus more on placement. Also I go through any notes that I think may be helpful, and have a look back at the equipment we do not use too much so I feel prepared for treating patients. Finally, if I have any e-learning which is required for the trust, I ensure this is already done so I do not get in trouble whilst on placement!
I try my best to give the house a good once over before I start placement, so I am not fighting a losing battle. I try to tidy all the rooms and keep them as clean as possible. I say try, as this can be quite difficult, and especially when you are tired after long shifts this can go completely out of the window. I may also try to give my car a wash and a service as it will get lots of use, more than usual in fact.
Placement and Work Hours
I am very fortunate as my placement hours can be juggled slightly. I do not get a big maintenance loan, so I still have to work so that I can afford my rent. When I get my placement shifts through, I compare them to my work shifts and see what I can juggle. I only try and swap a couple of placement shifts so I do not annoy the placement team, but I make sure nothing clashes which takes off the stress. I try and do this as far in advance as possible so that work nor placement get upset! I make sure everything is written in the diary so all I have to do is look in my diary the night before so I know where I am going the following day. Shift work can really mess with your brain... I end up GCS 14 - permanently confused as I do not know whether I am coming on going half the time, and I definitely have no clue what day of the week it is!
Hopefully this was a useful post to help you think about what you can do on the run up to placement to make your life easier! If I have forgotten anything, please let me know so I can implement this into my routine too!