Advice for a student nurse on a neuro ward

Hi all, I am a student nurse about to start my placement on a neurological ward which I’m very much looking forward to. The ward will be caring for people with MS and I was wondering if there is any advice or tips people could give me to give people with MS the best care? Or is there anything I can do no matter how small which can improve a person’s stay on the ward? Thanks.

Hi…May I thank you for taking the time and being proactive before starting your placement, its very commendable. Regarding any advice and tips…I recommend you read up on here some of the symptoms we all suffer from time to time, they are vast and different for everybody. This should give you a better understanding of MS hearing it from " the people in the know" Showing a greater knowledge and understanding of what we go through will go a long way with us, (me anyway)… Good luck in your placement and I hope you enjoy it.

Ah, how sweet to want to get it right…

I dont have MS myself, but whoever anyone is and whatever they have, being treated kindly and politely makes a big difference. Being in hospital can sometimes be a scary and anxious time, so if you have the time, spend a few minutes asking patients how they are?

I also find it so important to be told what is going to happen, so we feel involved with our care.

Good luck for your time on the ward.

luv Pollx

Taking time to listen and being helpful. After my first fingolimod pill last week no one on the ward knew how the rest of the pills would be delivered, so we went to neuro outpatients to ask. The nurse could not help enough. She was superb, to the point of my other half commenting she will wished all nurses/doctors were like that. Trying your utmost for patients breeds trust and confidence in their care

I’ve been an inpatient for over a week now, not a specific neuro ward but the staff have been amazing. They laugh with me/and at me as I’m a bit of a joker, take an extra minute when doing my Obs/BP/temp to actually talk to me and see how I am regardless of how busy they are. They bring me pain killers when needed and try to keep me updated about what’s on the agenda for the day. They notice when my food is untouched and ask if there is any reason and am I ok. I know not all hospital experiences are so positive- iv had some awful ones in the past but remember we need compassion not sympathy, regardless of how odd our symptoms are listen and empathise and tell someone/note what we say as sometimes the doctors read what nurses write not listen to what we say so they have an impression before the pull the curtain. If we need to pee and are telling you it means we really need to pee- please act fast about drips and stuff that may delay us or get someone who can help. Remember hospitals are scary and lonely. We as patients are told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take medicine, when to shower/wash. We loose our independence and its scary!! We miss our families.Procedures can be painful at times- even just a simple cannula or blood test that you don’t consider twice can hurt… Especially if you have had a few and the veins are worn out. If we are grumpy forgive us. It not personal. Chances are if you are pleasant we will be pleasant in return anyway - and even if we are not remember all if what I have said before. We will remember your kindness and probably even tell our families/friends about the nice young student who cares… Even if we don’t overtly display our gratification… Enough rambling but if you take one point from it and make one patients life easier I’m happy… Thanks for caring and preparing … Good luck!!!

good luck in your placement.

ms symptoms are different for everybody and they don’t stay the same.

bladder urgency is a biggie, i plan my outings around the nearest loo.

fatigue is a major problem and along withn it goes cognitive symptoms. if i’m in a big hit of fatigue i make no sense, however i’m not always like that.

sometimes we may have lability, emotions really close to the surface. crying then laughing hysterically. especially in hospital and most especially if on iv steroids.

i hope you enjoy working with people with ms. i think we’re a grand bunch!!!

thank for being so thoughtful

carole x

Thanks everyone for your advice! I have read up on symptoms of MS but I wasn’t aware of quite a few things such as bladders and urgently needing the loo which is so useful to know. It’s nice to hear about peoples real experiences and not just what is in a book. All really helpful comments that I’ll take to the ward and hopefully be a successful nurse there. Naomi xx

Hi Naomi, i am a nurse myself with MS, I work with loads of students an can tell right away you will be an ‘Angel’. I dont work

in a Neuro ward but have come across MS patients myself, we all have different and similar symptoms. Asking how we are

what our symptoms are? do we have any pain? whilst doing bloodpressure etc, this helps you find out about us as

individuals, an ear to listen and you learn at the same time, nurse patient ‘relationship’. Always make sure the patient has

there buzzer near, incase of toilet or pain. Have a great time enjoy your career like i have done all the best, you have the right attributes xx

Dont know how anon written beside? how does this happen have i ticked as well?

I too am a nurse (Paediatric) but always listen to the patient. If they say they need the toilet, they need it like toddlers always are with the sudden onset of need! If they stumble or seem to trip be careful!

Remember too that looks are deceiving - many of us look perfectly well even when we feel rubbish.

I will never forget my first stay in hospital. Even I wondered what I was doing there … I couldn’t speak or write properly so there was obviously something wrong but I looked perfectly healthy and was getting some very odd looks from other patients. I was even helping to return some of the elderly ones to the right bed when they got a bit lost or confused and the nurses were run off their feet lol!

Then one nurse was checking my BP/temp etc and filling in my chart and she said “It’s all happening on the inside, with you, isn’t it, my love?” It was so nice to have some understanding, that’s the sort of kindness you don’t forget.

Tracey x


It is so nice that you are asking.

Whenever I have stayed in hospital I have suffered terribly with the heat when the heating is on. My symptoms are ten time worse when I am hot and when I am cool the symptoms improve.

A fan during my stay in hospital was an absolute must and I really appreciated the lovely nurse who found me a fan when it was snowing outside and everyone else was cold. I’ll never forget her for that.

I agree with Tracey. I have lost count of the amount of time people have said to me that I look so well when I am suffering terribly inside.

Good luck with your placement and thank you for being so kind as to ask.

Shazzie xx

Ditto so many of the comments here already. I am terrified of hospitals and glad I’ve not had the need to stay, but if I did, I’d be relieved and thankful to have a nurse like you. I think fear can also play a huge part with MS and other neuro illnesses.

Listening does seem to be about 99% of it, we are all so different but the chances are we’ll need the loo with little warning/ we might get a bit confused and quite likely we’ll fall or trip… but none of those things are a given.

For example, I thought I was doing ok last night and was talking to my husband, when I found myself saying “oops, don’t worry, it’s just water”… I was standing stock still after completing the difficult task of carrying a glass of water from one room to the next so how I just spilt it whilst standing still is anyone’s guess?!

I was clumsy before MS came into my life and now I live with a body that doesn’t always obey! :wink:

I’m likely PPMS which felt like hideous news when I first heard it but living with RRMS can be a lot more frightening - ok one day and blind/numb/pained/ countless other scary symptoms the next! I have a fear that I will become less and less able but if it’s slow it’s not really as scary as that. I’m guessing the people who do end up on a ward are highly likely to have had a good old dose of fear factor!

Hope your placement goes well, sorry I waffled a bit there, things kept popping into my head!

Sonia x

I wish you all the best of luck and thank you for taking the trouble to ask.

Touch causes me pain and it would be useful if patients are asked before hand so that they can brace themselves. I also have damage on my accustic nerves so everything is much louder (and accutely painful) so please talk quietly and let the patient ask you to raise you voice if necessary. More importantly please consider that a hospital should be a place of peace and quiet where patients can relax and recover. I find it terrible that many places(staff) within our hospitals play music and videos without any consideration of the impact on the patients. It is also irritating being forced to listen to doctors and nurses discussing their time away from work - we are not interested and don’t want to hear about it.

My world has shrunk because of the neuropathic pain from noise and I have had to adapt to part time living. Any action which stops my world shrinking any further is welcome.

Smile and talk to the customers,

Be lucky,


Hi nks92

You have already had most of the main points - but as you sort through them remember this:
1 - We are all different, and our MS develops at different rates and in different ways.
2 - Our medication needs may not fit a hospital schedule. As example, anyone on Gabapentin for neuropathic pain with a 3 x daily schedule may need the intervals as near 8 hourly as possible. (Like people with Parkinsons have their Sinemet timings as really critical - and do not always get the medication at the right time).
3 - The bladder thing. Urgency (as in “I need the loo right now”) may go hand-in-hand with with hesitancy (as in “I need to go right now” and ten minutes later nothing has happened but the need is still there).
4 - Ask your patients what their biggest MS problems are, and you will learn an awful lot that is not in any textbook.

And above all, learn to smile and stay calm when what you really want to do is panic.