Back to University

The first semester of my second year is now almost over.  My favourite placement, so far, was passed with great enjoyment, and was signed off by my tutor earlier this week.  My two assignments for my optional modules were submitted then too.  One was regarding end of life, or palliative care issues, while the other was regarding families and carers, with a particular focus on dementia. 

There are now just a couple of lessons of the optional modules left, and these are mainly taking place in the simulation rooms alongside the patient mannequins.  These are basically high tech dummies to practise on, and they can talk, breath and have vital signs along with many other tutor programmable functions.  These were one of the first things that attracted me to my university choice, but as mental health nurses, I think that we do not get to use them perhaps as much as the adult nurses do.  They are a great teaching resource to have on site though.

As I prepare for my next semester and module, which is titled Mental and Physical Health and Wellbeing across the Lifespan, I picked up the set reading books which I had pre-ordered from the library.  Before the module starts, I am trying to read as much as I possibly can, in order to get a feel of what this topic is about.   This next semester is quite a crucial one, as we have a three hour anatomy and physiology exam at the end.  As this is potentially quite a factually intensive subject, this knowledge is a little daunting, so I am trying to get a head start.  With this in mind, I have read about 75 pages of one of the books already, and am finding it really interesting.  I have previously found anatomy and physiology really fascinating, but there is such a lot to remember.  It is a positive sign however, if you actually enjoy something, so I will just try to approach it with interest and enthusiasm.

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Before starting the first of the set books, I had just read a brilliant book about the topic of dementia.  The book is called The Nun Study and the science of old age: How we can all live longer, healthier and more vital lives – Aging with Grace, and it was written by Dr. David Snowdon.  The publication was recommended to me by one of the psychiatric nurses at the placement that I have just finished.  I had told him that one of my main areas of nursing interest was regarding caring for patients with dementia.  I am so glad that the nurse told me about this book, because it really was a fabulous and fascinating read.

I will not tell you too much, just in case you would like to read it for yourself, but Dr. Snowdon basically set up a long term research project of 678 nuns, ranging in ages from 75 to 106.  The nuns agreed to take part in annual mental examination tests to assess memory, concentration, language, visual spatial abilities and orientation to time and place, and they also agreed to donate their brains for examination and dissection when they died.  I will not say much else, but some of the nuns had Alzheimer’s disease, while others did not; so Dr. Snowdon and his team had a combination of diseased brains and healthy brains, to look at and compare.  If you are interested in dementia, then I would urge you to read this book.

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I will now get back to completing a couple of tasks for university.  I have just finished some essential Year 2 work regarding the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and I now just have a reflective piece of writing left to complete regarding family and carer input during my placement.  I will then continue with the anatomy and physiology reading…   

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