I have recently been working in an aged care private facility. I was the sole RN on the floor, at the facility. When I started the role, I thought I could hit the ground running. I had worked in another aged care facility before and believed I could just start working with very little orientation. I take ownership of this mistake. Because working in an aged care facility is hard, hard, hard work. It is draining – mentally, physically and emotionally.

I had just come back from maternity leave; as a single mother, I felt obligated to show my daughter a good role model.

I failed in this nursing role.

First, it was the training for interRAI, which, having done brief informal training at the other aged care facility prior, I thought it would be a walk in the park. It wasn’t; five assessments, for five weeks, needed to be marked and each assessment needed a pass rate of 90 per cent. I kept failing the assessments, as I felt I needed to be on the floor and I was rushing them to get them done. I then needed to do a sixth assessment because I’d struggled to do the other five without numerous re-submissions. In addition, there were 10 multi-choice tests. It took up nearly two months to complete, from the initial interRAI training.

I still didn’t feel I had a grasp on what is actually required with interRAI; it is the most confusing software application I have ever used. I am not a dumb person, but I felt it was not user-friendly; you can’t then use the results to formulate straight to care plans – you still need to write separate care plans.

All other paperwork I needed to do fell behind. There was paperwork I was missing, as I didn’t know it needed to be done.

I then tried cutting corners at work to try to find time to do the paperwork, because of interRAI. At the time, the corners I was cutting, I didn’t think it wrong. It wasn’t until the nursing manager bought it up, I realised my thought processes were jeopardised from the sheer exhaustion I felt.

I was so tired, being woken up several times during the night still with my baby daughter and the workload at work, I started not thinking straight, feeling overwhelmed. One day at work, I started getting an irregular heartbeat, I literally felt like my heart was leaping out of my chest. An ambulance ride later, I discovered I was having PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) due to caffeine consumption, fatigue, and dehydration. All my fault; I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Then came a mistake where I didn’t hear verbal (phone) instructions from a doctor properly. Although the patient was not harmed it highlighted my obvious failure in the role. The doctor questioned my registration, my intelligence and my capability as a RN. Then the operations manager (who is not a nurse) wanted to take me to the Nursing Council to see if my registration should be, at the very least, monitored or whether I should be put under supervision. Possibly I would lose my registration.

I was devastated. Literally devastated. I had failed. Failed as a Registered Nurse, and worse, failed my daughter as I was not able to be the role model she so rightly deserves. I resigned from the role, a failure.

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