Why it will never feel like the ‘right time’: Lessons learned from over two years of podcasting lived clinical experiencesBy Benjamin Jenkins May 13, 2020
I remember the afternoon vividly. I had finished a clinical shift within the intensive care unit (ICU), and was on the way home, when I decided to pull my car over to the side of the road. I pulled out my phone, opened ‘Anchor’ and started recording.
My name is LT Benjamin Jenkins. I am a new Nursing Officer, having completed long term schooling (LTS) and my two placement years within the ICU and Emergency Department (ED) at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
The afternoon that I described, is the afternoon that I started to record my experiences of commencing as a new graduate nurse within the ICU.
I was excited to have been selected to start my nursing career within one of Queensland’s major trauma centre ICU’s. I hadn’t had a student placement in ICU, and I had no idea what I was about to experience. In the lead-up to the start date, I was digging deep into literature surrounding mechanical ventilation, inotropes & vasopressors, and anything I could get my hands on that might prepare me for what I was about to face. When I met my clinical facilitator, I asked what I could do to best prepare myself. Liz looked at me, and said calmly, “learn how to manage stress.” I had no idea at the time what she meant. I was looking for books and other resources to help guide me. What I was told however, couldn’t have been more true.
As I started those first few weeks, I knew that this was a special opportunity that I wanted to share with others. However, I didn’t quite know how. I considered writing a blog, but I didn’t believe I could get the emotional connection across like I wanted. I noticed a new app that had just been released called ‘Anchor’; a platform that allows you to record your voice, straight from your device, and instantly shares it across all major streaming platforms.
I had played with the idea of starting a podcast for weeks. In my head, I asked “but what if no-one listened?”; “I’m only starting my career, why would someone listen?”; “Wouldn’t that come across as a bit ‘up myself’?”; “I haven’t got the time.” And that’s what’s so powerful about that afternoon in the car. I just…started. After recording a few sample episodes, I gained the approval from my nurse unit manager (NUM), and the process began.
Over a period of two years, I went on to document my experiences within ICU, and the following year in ED; finishing with over 150 episodes. The podcast is called “New Grad Radio: Intensive Care & Emergency Nurse”. I talked about everything from my first night shifts, to caring for my first patient on a ventilator, to my final clinical assessment. As much as I wanted to share the good things, equally I wanted to highlight the challenges: to normalise that it’s ok to struggle and to have bad days.
In the beginning, it was exceptionally challenging. I had never felt more ‘on display.’ But I took ownership of it. I had a sense of creative freedom and it was my project. In the beginning, I kept it from my peers in the workplace. I was almost embarrassed of it. Yet as time went on, I started to tell a person here-and-there. Before I knew it, nearly everyone knew.
Throughout that first year, I started to receive feedback on the Facebook page I had set up for the podcast. Messages of absolute, unconditional support. Fellow grads, from all over the world, were mentioning that they were feeling the exact same way; student nurses commenting that the information I had described had helped them to prepare for their upcoming placement in ICU; NUM’s & clinical educators writing to say how thankful they were they could listen and learn from the insights of a graduate.
Whilst podcasting has led to a variety of opportunities, the message I hope to portray in this article is that there was never a time that I felt 'ready'. Did I question myself? I sure did. Did I receive negative feedback and comments during that period of time? Yes, I did. But it was those messages, the messages from students, grads and fellow nurses alike that kept me pushing forward. There were times I would spend hours on one episode, questioning myself over and over; but what I had learned is to do my best, share the experience, and to move on. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be authentic.
Whilst you’re on display - and as clinicians, we’re usually not the first to highlight our work - your experiences have the potential to help others in ways you might not have ever considered. All it takes is to start.
LT Jenkins has since gone on to establish the official podcast for the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) ‘The ACN Podcast with Ben Jenkins MACN’, is the ‘Communications Coordinator’ for the Military Nursing community of interest (COI) for ACN, and has established a third season of the ‘New Grad Radio podcast’, outlining the fundamentals of intensive care nursing for the nurses being up-skilled to enter ICU’s during the COVID pandemic.