BLOG: Why I’ll be telling my students to wear Crocs*

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*other rubber clogs are available

A blog by Michelle Callighan, Health Care Teacher

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’ve just witnessed a crash team bring a patient back to life.

I’m helping out on his ward today and one minute we were chatting, he was lovely, we’d built a bit of rapport and the next thing I knew he was having a cardiac arrest. Alarms were activated, curtains were drawn, and an amazing team of nurses and doctors swiftly went to work to do what was needed to save his life. They did it, they got him back and made him stable. And while that man’s heart was once again beating, mine was pounding and tears had formed in my eyes; because I saw it all. They brought me to the inside of the curtain, despite me backing off to let them do their job, because I’m here to learn and see what they do and how they do things.

This was the middle of my week of shadowing staff at the QE Hospital Gateshead. Something I’m doing to gain a better understanding of the skills, knowledge and experience of nursing so that I can pass that knowledge on to college students. And up until this encounter, I may have been tempted to pursue a career as a nurse myself. In the past, I’ve worked in care homes and supported palliative patients, even nursing them in their final moments, but I’ve got my own family now and having children has really changed my perspective; I’m no longer cut out for the highs and lows of life as a nurse.

Ultimately, though, I’m in a very privileged position because I’m still supporting the health and care sector by training the people that will go on to keep making it one of the most rewarding places to work. The week back in industry has been invaluable to me. Having been out of the nursing world, going back and spending time observing and learning is crucial for me to do the best job in preparing the next generation of skilled nurses and healthcare professionals.

I spent the week shadowing the most welcoming nurses, physiotherapists and healthcare assistants on respiratory, stroke and geriatric wards. And to say nurses ‘don’t stop’ is an understatement. Their role is varied and wide-reaching, they’ve so many additional duties that I wasn’t fully appreciative of and they do it with such care and compassion. They must cover miles during a shift too, me and my aching feet now know why they’re all wearing Crocs! That’ll be among my top tips for students going out on their work placements – the comfy and lightweight shoes seemed to be worn by pretty much every member of hospital staff.

My time at the QE won’t change what I teach, it will change how I do it. It’s given me examples to draw on, real life experience to share and a deeper understanding of exactly how what I’m teaching in the classroom plays out in ‘real life’.

Pic caption: Michelle Callighan (left) with colleagues Kris Pointer and Emma French who were also working at the QE Hospital Gateshead.

Sat Sep 30 2023