What's In My Placement Bag

Left to right: high vis trousers, purple stethoscope case, 2018/19 diary, deodorant, epaulettes, hand-cream, lip balm, hairbands, phone charger, PAD, tissues, pens and dried fruit.

I have had two years now to work out what I need in my placement bag, and I think I have nearly got it down! My placement bag is a plain old rucksack, which is big enough to fit all my kit in it, but small enough to fit in the kit locker. Trust kit bags are usually long holdalls, and kit lockers were definitely not built for three of these! Here are my placement bag essentials.

So first off, we have our personal protective equipment.We get issued with a pair of high vis trousers and a jacket. I have never used the trousers, although I could see myself using them on a long job when it is cold, dark or wet. My trousers live in my bag (with most of the labels on them still... oops!) and my jacket lives in between my bag and just in the kit locker. I try to make sure my jacket it accessible at all times as when you need it, you need it quickly. When sat in the back and on your way to an RTC or a job outside, get your high vis out ready, and offer to get your crewmates' jacket's out too! This makes it slightly smoother running and gives you one less thing to think about. I also clip my helmet to straps of my rucksack, which makes it easier to find in a panic!

If you have read my other posts, you may have noticed how attached I am to my diary. My diary rules my life, and if I lost it I would definitely not have a clue what I was doing at all! I take my diary with me to allow me to check shifts with my mentor and it means I can have shifts swapped if needed and can add any shifts in immediately, rather than relying on texts or emails. I also have it as when we have a bit of down time, I can organise non-placement work shifts around placement and sleep!

Stethoscope Case
In here I keep spare kit of mine such as pens, lip salve, and spare stethoscope ear pieces. I also keep pen torches, shears, alcohol gel and cannula caps, but do not buy these as the trust supply them, you can get them from the stores in the station! I do not hoard these things, however it is very helpful to have a spare on you in case you leave it off your uniform or they get used.

PAD and Timesheet
Your PAD (Practice Assessment Document) is your reason for living, and you must bring this with you everyday! I keep my hours sheets tucked inside so it is all kept together, and I usually take it out and leave it in the back so when we get to hospital, it reminds my PEd to write in it. I also ensure I get my timesheet signed after every shift because if your PEd goes off sick, on annual leave or your shift gets swapped, it can be difficult to backtrack this. I normally ask for a 'squiggle' at the end of the shift and let them sign it, and I do the rest. Some will write in the hours for you, others will ask you to do it. 
When it comes to getting your PAD signed, you really need too push this, but nicely. It can be really difficult if you do not like asking for stuff (believe me), but asking them to sign it straight after you have done something, really saves them a lot of work in the long run. If it is a one-off shift, try to get them to sign it immediately, if they are your long term mentor, you can be a bit more relaxed but still be hesitant. If you have nothing signed after three shifts, you really need to try to get them to sign something. If they refuse or brush you off, discuss this with your tutor at uni (via email or phone call). With a long term mentor, you can write things on post-it notes as evidence and get them to sign it off. Again, be careful as quite a few may want to take it home to sign it, this is risky as if it gets damaged or lost, you could be really screwed. 
If you do let them take it (I've let a few of my mentors take it home with no problems - just please be really careful) make sure you take photos of everything that is already signed off. This is really important as you can use these photos if anything does happen to your PAD. This is a good idea even if you do not give it to your PEd, just as back-up.

Bring pens. Lots of pens. 
Pens get lost, pens get stolen and pens get bodily fluids on them.
Enough said.

Hand-Cream, Lip Balm, Tampons and Hairbands
Alcohol gel is not forgiving on your hands, and neither is getting hot and sweaty trying to restrain your confused patient in the back whilst wearing gloves. Hand-cream is a small luxury. Also those long jobs outside in horrific weather can really take its toll on your lips, not to mention long shifts an night shifts, hence the lip balm. Keep some pads and tampons in your bag just in case you (or a crew mate) get caught short - sorry boys, TMI! Hairbands also are essential in your bag (if you have long hair)

I keep a spare pair in my bag in case I need to put them on my high vis jacket, but also in case I forget to put them on my shirt or jacket. I also am really good at losing them off my shirt, so this just means that I do not look lopsided!

When you get those really nasty houses that smell like dirt, alcohol and cigarette smoke, this is a lifesaver. Or after CPR.

Phone Charger
Bring a plug, a cable and also a cigarette adapter. There are normally plugs in the back that can fit a plug or the cigarette adapter charger. I end up having to charge my phone in my breaks occasionally too, depending on where we have been (as lots of places and hospitals have no signal which completely drains your battery) and how much it has been used. There is nothing worse than wanting to let your loved ones know you are going to be off late, but not being able to contact them as your phone is dead.

Food and Drink
Maybe the most important part of my kit bag is the food in it. I bring lots of food and snacks to ensure that I do not get hungry on shift. There is a mixture of healthy and unhealthy bits in there, as no one really comfort eats on cucumber and tomatoes. I also keep some dried fruit at the bottom of my bag in case I run out of food, get really hungry and need a sugar boost. I could go on about the kind of food I bring, but I will leave that for another post. I also bring a 1l water bottle and a bottle of squash (or those small squeezy pods if I am feeling fancy and rich) so that I am inclined to stay hydrated during the day.

I hope this post is helpful to you when you are going out on placement! Let me know what you bring, and if you think I have forgotten any essentials!

Check out the others in this series:


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