Third Year Thrift: getting around

Apologies for missing the post last week – the first week of third year had my full attention!

 

This week I’m going to give a few tips about a cost I forgot about initially when budgeting for college – transport. I’ll start with the basics; walk, cycle, or carpool if at all possible. It’s cheaper and it’s way better for the planet.

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Every college has different placement sites, some fairly close to campus and others a fair distance away. My college has placement sites all across the northeast and even the northwest of Ireland – ranging from ten minutes down the road to almost the other side of the country – so the costs can be variable.

 

Before you buy a ticket, check out every option; buses, trains, whatever you can find. Don’t forget to look at the multi-trip tickets and go for the student prices. Students in Ireland, it’s well worth getting a student Leapcard. Students in other countries, I honestly have no idea what the good value deals are for ye, drop me a comment if you know of anything! Bus Éireann offer student discounts on top of the existing reductions as well for different months of the year (I’d imagine Irish Rail do too).

One of the most useful things that I found was asking other students who have already been to the placement site. Someone will have found a good value way of getting there or they live there and know a good company. This is where your Student’s Union or Midwifery Society come in really handy.

 

The same idea goes for getting to college; check out the options and ask around. Don’t be afraid to ask people who live in the same area as you if they’d give you a lift sometimes – giving them cash towards fuel will probably be cheaper than any bus or train ticket and you’ll be helping them out.

 

If you have any tips that I’ve forgotten or suggestions on what else I should talk about, leave a comment or send me a message!

Third Year Thrift: how to not starve

The title might be a bit on the nose, but the stereotype of students living on noodles and pizza isn’t entirely untrue. I’ve heard of students in my own college only eating once a day because they couldn’t afford anything more than that. Not eating properly or often enough will lead to a lack of energy affecting your performance academically and on placement. It’ll also make you feel like pure shit.

 

Like I said last week, planning is a solid way to saving money. I know that I’m back in Dundalk for five weeks before I head away on placement, so I’ve done my best to plan for those five weeks. Being honest about bad or counter-productive habits helps as well. I have inherited a horrible habit of over-buying food if I don’t plan out my meals, so I’m reducing my food waste now as well.

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I’m definitely not an expert in meal planning but it’s all that difficult, and you can make it flexible. I’m on a somewhat limited diet (thank you, IBS) so I try to make a couple of different meals out of the same ingredients in a week. Sometimes I have to sit with a food pyramid to make sure I’m actually getting what I need out of my meals. Once I have a plan, I’ll prep as much of the meal as I can at the start of the week so that I’m not tempted to just order takeaway. It’s so much easier to stick to the plan if all that you need to do is pick out what you need and throw it together in a pot. So I’ll chop veg on a Sunday evening, freeze half to throw into meals with something later in the week and cook two or three portions of something else with the other half. I try to bake something like banana bread or oat cookies to stop myself buying treats in the college canteen as well.

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The key for me is shopping around rather than floating around one shop (Tesco, I love Tesco so much) and grabbing things pretty much at random. I discovered a few weeks ago that my local Asian food shop does noodle packets for a euro cheaper than the other shops. €1 doesn’t seem like a huge saving until you realise you buy a lot of something. Now I keep a rough list of things I buy regularly and how much they cost in different shops, and I check shop websites for deals and discounts whenever I remember.

The biggest saver is probably that I have zero brand loyalty. None. I couldn’t care less that Andrex toilet paper is the only brand that my mam might ever have at home – I’ll be using the Lidl version because it’s cheaper until something of similar quality but lower price comes along. Dolmio sauce and Dunnes own brand tastes the exact same to me. I’m not saying buy the cheapest version – buy the best value version.

Third Year Thrift

After having to give up part time work last winter and throwing all of my money at my trip to Cambodia, I am broke. The most broke that I’ve ever been. I’m starting third year with about €200 – which I need for rent until my grant starts in mid September. This means that I’ll be getting pretty creative with money this year.

 

& According to a poll over on my instagram a decent number of people want to hear about how I plan on doing this. I’ll be covering things like how to save money on food, beauty and health bits but I’d really appreciate your suggestions for other topics. Leave a comment below or message me on instagram with ideas. Until then you can check out my post from 2017 on how I saved up the money to get started in college. Keep an eye out for the #ThirdYearThrift posts on saving money while studying and out on placement

Preparing for a new semester

It’s not long at all until I start back in college for my second year. I’ve been getting organised, in between work and seeing friends and family, and I thought I’d share my routine with you!

 

First thing I do is organise my notes from the previous semester. After exams, my notes are in a total shambles, so I have to put everything back in order before I do anything else. It’s good for refreshing my memory on what we’ve already covered as well.

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Next, I get my big binder. You can buy them new but there’s always a local office ready to throw out a pile of them so try asking around. They’re usually happy to get rid of them, you don’t have to pay for them, and in the end you’ve managed to save something from the dump which is great for the planet!

 

My college has a website which lets you browse through the modules on different courses, I think most do. I use it to look ahead and see what modules I’ll have, what kind of assessments there are for each of them, and what kind of content there is. It gives me a rough idea of what the semester will look like. If you can get chatting to someone on the course, definitely do it! Their first hand experience is really helpful.

 

This one is fairly important: find your uniform! Every little bit – fob watches, shoes, ID cards, whatever you need. Anything that can be washed, give it a wash. My uniforms sit in a bag for months when they’re not used so I like to freshen them up and make sure I have everything.

 

I also check things like my backpack and food containers for any sign of damage or wearing down. I bought a new (cheap) backpack during first year and didn’t check it but found a big tear in the top of it on a rainy day – not ideal. So throw an eye over your everyday pieces and make sure they don’t need repair or replacement.

 

Next, I get out my planner (I always buy from the Happy Planner Company). Any dates like study breaks, placement blocks, birthdays, deadlines…they all go in as soon as I can write them down. I am one of those people who can’t function without some kind of diary and I always recommend people use one whether it’s a big paper one or an app on your phone.

 

One of the last things I do is look at stationary. I make sure I have all my bits and pieces for college and for placement before  go to the shops. Usually all I have to buy is black pens and refill pads. I’m a really visual learner so I try to have a good stock of colourful pencils and markers for my notes.

 

How do you get organised?

 

 

 

 

So last year before I started my course I wrote an essentials list for midwifery students (which you can read here). After a year of working with what I had and envying some of the things my classmates had, I thought it would be a good idea to update a little! This is the placement list, for when you’re on the wards with women every day.

 

Black pens: this will never change. Buy a hundred. Keep them in your placement bags, your folder, your locker, your pockets. Don’t do what I do and stick them in your hair because 1. bacteria and 2. you’ll hug someone and poke them in the eye with it.

Fob watches: multiple fob watches. Preferably silicone because they’re easier to clean and there are no nooks and crannies for microbes to hide in.

Small notebook: to scribble down notes, medications, disorders, lab values…really anything and everything on placement. I prefer ring bound notebooks because they hold up a little better being pulled out of my pockets and jammed back in with pens and gloves and all the other junk in my pockets.

Hair ties and pins: to keep your hair neat. I also found myself giving women my bobbins a lot, especially on the labour ward. So now I always bring a few extra.

A journal: I love love love my reflective journal. It’s another purchase from the Happy Planner Company but any wee notebook will be perfect. It’s a really good way of working through your day once it’s over and you get a chance to sit down. Always always always keep confidentiality in mind when you’re writing. I came up with a few different ways of coding the identities of people in my care so now when I read back even I’m  not 100% sure who’s who!

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The second week of my first placement really only starts tomorrow – I've two long days and a short day, and I'm ready for it. I have to confess, like lots of other humans probably do, I was having a bit of a wobble. I was overthinking and raising expectations for myself that no one else was. But I sat down with my @thehappyplanner_co reflective journal, wrote about my last shift (Thursday) and everything just felt better. Writing has always been great therapy for me, it's the way I work things out. Don't forget to find the right way to work things out for yourself ✨ . . . . . . . . #studentmidwife #futuremidwife #reflectivemidwife #reflectivepractice #reflectivejournal #midwiferyjournal #midwiferystudent #babycatcher

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Snacks: so many snacks. Different kinds – sweet, savoury, energy boosting, chocolate goodness. Think about what will be filling but not too heavy and what will give you a lasting energy lift for those long shifts.

Water bottle: label it. Label it all over. Hydration is super important and especially so when you’re running around non stop all day.

Spare socks: your feet will get sweaty. Like really sweaty, so sometimes it’s just nice to change them during the day. When I used to work in a nursing home, especially in the summer when it was boiling hot and the heating was on full blast, it was lovely to sit down, throw a bit of talc on my toes, and put on fresh socks. Also you will definitely get some kind of bodily fluid all over and inside your shoes at some stage, so be ready!

Spare uniform: just in case.

Plastic bags: for bringing uniforms in and out. It’s a habit I picked up working in McDonald’s, basically to protect the clothes and protect your belongings from contact contamination.

Reference book: I have my survival guide in my locker all the time on placement. It’s just handy to have it there if I want to check anything on my breaks or go over something like a skill that I know I’ll be doing later in the day.

Deodorant: spray and roll on. Spray deodorant can irritate the respiratory system especially if they have disorders like asthma. I bring face wipes and bits like that as well just so I can freshen up during the day.

 

So that’s my take on the essentials for placement. If you think I’ve missed anything let me know in the comments! Keep an eye out for “what’s in my pocket” posts for the various wards you work on as a student midwife.

First placement: Postnatal ward

 

It was a fair while ago at this stage but I’m finally writing about my first placement as a student midwife! It’s times like these that I’m grateful I scribbled everything down in my reflective journal at the end of (almost) every day.

 

For confidentiality reasons I obviously can’t and won’t go into detail about individual people or families.

 

I was incredibly nervous the first day, as anyone would be. But every person we met was so welcoming, especially our placement co-ordinators. We were orientated to the hospital for most of the morning. I had my first HSE scone and have been addicted ever since!

We started on the wards in the early afternoon. Having been out of healthcare for a while it was more of a shock to my system than I was expecting it to be but the staff on the ward were obviously well used to dazed and confused first year students and looked after me until I found my feet.

I didn’t keep count of how many women and babies I interacted with or looked after which I am now of course kicking myself for! I was mainly looking after families that had had cesarean sections from the first or second hour after the surgery to up to three days after. I was lucky to not run into any particularly difficult or painful situations and I find myself thinking about different people at different moments. It’s funny how once you’ve been a part of such a special intimate time in someone’s life the kind of things that remind you of them. There’s one family who comes to mind when I see lollipops! I guess that’s just midwife life. And I’m quite happy with it.

 

Some of the skills I got to observe and practice were baby bathing (terrifying but so manageable!), changing wound dressings, helping newborns to feed from the breast and the bottle, the process of checking and giving medications, and changing many many many many nappies. I’m overwhelmingly proud to say that not one wee baby managed to christen me in pee to date! The big important skills of course were the daily newborn and woman postnatal checks. I still rely on my checklist when I do them but the theory of it all made much more sense on the last day of placement than it did the first time.

 

One of the things I feel most privileged about is that I was able to follow a family through from her pre-op preparation to her postnatal care, which meant I got to watch the cesarean and see my first birth! I had already been blown away by the strength and power of the women who had had this major abdominal surgery but to see what was involved in the actual procedure gave me a whole new perception of the power that women possess.

 

Of course it wasn’t all perfect. I struggled with feeling like a spare part, especially in the first week when I couldn’t remember where anything was kept. I found it hard to match my expectations of myself with what I was actually supposed to be doing – I found myself falling back into the healthcare assistant role a few times and had to catch myself. We were very lucky to be given a session on infant death by the hospitals bereavement midwife. It’s invaluable and essential knowledge but it was very hard on my heart.

 

So that’s my first placement! Done and dusted and passed and forever in my memory. Keep an eye out for my postnatal placement essentials list.

I’m going on an adventure!

If you follow my facebook page or my instagram you’ll know that after years and years of dreaming, I have booked to go on an elective midwifery placement in Cambodia for six weeks in the summer of 2019.

 

I’ve been dreaming about this for as long as I’ve been dreaming about midwifery. I’ve looked at multiple companies and locations. Ultimately I decided to go with Work the World. They have no age limits, a good ethical history, and were so helpful with all my questions (of which there were many) before I actually dived in and booked.

So in March, just before my second placement block, I went ahead and booked my dream. I don’t think the reality of booking it really hit me until a few days later, then I started crying and literally hopping around the place with excitement! I think my parents still don’t really believe that I’m going but there is absolutely no stopping me now! Especially as one of my loveliest classmates has booked to come along with me on this amazing journey.

 

I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position to start this adventure off. Booking alone cost €350 and with extra costs like vaccinations and flights I can easily see this tipping into €4000 by the time it’s all added up. So I’ll be doing a lot of fundraisers over the next year to earn as much as I can. I’ve already done the 2018 Women’s Mini Marathon, splitting what I raised between my fund for this trip and the Rape Crisis North East centre. I’ve set up a GoFundMe (link here) where anyone and everyone can vote on whether I should shave my flame hair or save it. And I’m hoping to make use of my self care hobby – cross stitch!

Cross stitch was something I detested in Junior Cert Home Ec, but I’ve learned to love it. It’s methodical, it’s routine, it’s hard to make a mistake. And it’s not an expensive or messy hobby, which is a bonus. A few girls in my class have asked me to make similar pieces for them so the little bit of extra money I make from them goes straight into my adventure savings!

 

I’ll keep updating as things develop but for the short and sweet versions make sure to follow our facebook page here