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My University Experience - First Year Student: Olivia Milow

Released on - 09/03/2021

My University Experience - First Year Student: Olivia Milow

My name’s Olivia Milow. I’m in my first year at Edge Hill University and studying to become an ODP. I started my first placement early this year at my local trust.

It’s been a very strange year to start at uni. I haven’t been on campus to meet friends or socialise because I’ve been following the rules very strictly. I’ve been doing remote learning but I have been going into uni for clinical skills. 

I’ve found remote learning very difficult. Not having face to face contact means I don’t have much contact with the other students on my course so I don’t know if I’m the only one feeling the way I am – being confused about an assignment for example. There’s no one to discuss things with and bounce ideas off. 

We made a Whatsapp group at the start of our course so we could all keep in touch and help each other where we can. That’s turned out to be really useful. It’s a strange way to meet people and get to know them but it’s better than nothing!

Thankfully I’ve found that I can keep myself motivated by ensuring that I keep myself in a routine every day. Every morning I make sure that I’m up and dressed and have eaten breakfast before my lectures start.  Then I work until 3pm as allocated on my timetable, meaning I can then relax for the rest of the day. If you get up every day and join the lectures, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something that day.

One good thing about remote learning is being able to work at my own pace. I enjoy learning and doing assignments on my own in a quiet place. Had I been in university I’m not sure I would’ve had this opportunity. It will be strange when we’re back and things aren’t so quiet!

On the first day of my first clinical placement I was super nervous.  I didn’t even eat breakfast! I didn’t have a clue what to expect but I couldn’t wait to find out. Apart from volunteering on the hospital’s maternity ward prior to starting my course, I hadn’t had any hospital experience. I expected to gain some sort of experience but didn’t think I’d be very hands on for my first block. 

As it turned out, my placement experience was amazing!

My first day was about getting to know the hospital and the staff. We had a sit down and a chat with our CSF who is lovely and explained everything so well to us. When I started at the hospital on my first day in practice, I was very nervous, but my nerves were soon put to one side as my mentor and other staff members encouraged me to get involved throughout the day. Considering I didn’t have any prior knowledge I felt like I fitted in well within the team. I became more confident as the weeks went on and I asked SO many questions! I got involved in everything I could and I questioned things that I wasn’t sure I was ready to get involved in.

I was based in anesthetics. By the end of the first week, I was applying basic monitoring to patients and learning so much about assisting the anesthetist. I got experience in general, local and regional anaesthetics.  Every member of staff was so helpful in answering my questions and reassuring any concerns I had. 

Also, my hospital still had a few routine lists so I found myself in ophthalmics, breast, urology, plastics and pain clinic.  By the end of my first placement, I was able to get equipment and drugs needed for each case able (under my mentor’s supervision of course). I was checking the anaesthetic machines under supervision and I felt very confident about introducing myself to patients and applying monitoring prior to anaesthesia. 

I learnt so much on placement – more than I ever thought was possible!  Firstly, I began learning about professionalism in front of the patients. Things like introducing myself, maintaining dignity, ensuring the patient was comfortable and warm. I also began to learn how to check the anaesthetics machines which I can now do confidently, and which monitors are required for different procedures such as pulse oximetry or ECG monitoring. I learned lots about equipment and how certain things are required for certain surgeries, including arm boards for breast surgery. 

To anyone about to go on placement I’d say don’t worry and learn as much as you can. I wish I’d listened to people who said I had nothing to worry about before my placement started!

Yes, the early morning get ups are a killer and placement is hard, but when a patient thanks you for your hard work… it’s all worth it. 

To anyone considering doing the course… DO IT!!

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