One of the toughest areas that was part of my training as a senior in nursing school was Intensive Care. With fear, yet eager anticipation, I looked forward to this clinical challenge.
The patient I was assigned to was an older gentleman who was starting peritoneal dialysis. He was quiet and said very little. I took care of this man for a few days and felt accomplished that I had mastered the process of the dialysis, was aware of his lab values and had developed an excellent care plan. I was, however, frustrated at his apathy as I was trying to teach him (and his family) the procedure for eventual home care.
Our instructor was a fine woman and great nurse, but an extremely strict and stern instructor who made me and my peers tremble when she came in any room. The last day I cared for this man I had become frustrated at his non-verbal manner and his self pity attitude. With frustration and anger, I quietly yelled at this man to try to get him to take an interest in his improving health. After I did this, I saw my instructor walking toward me. As she approached me I realized she had heard what I had said to the patient. Being a senior at this time I just knew I was going to be asked to leave school or something to that effect.
Mrs. “G.” called me over to see her immediately after the incident. My brain was spinning and my thoughts were filled with doom, gloom and total fear. As she called me into a corner of the unit I realized my fate was in her hands. With my heart racing and hands sweating she surprisingly acknowledged that what I had said to the patient was what he needed to hear. To my surprise, I had accomplished my goal of treating the whole patient.
With shock and pride I completed my intensive care rotation, graduated as a Registered Nurse and have since always tried to support the physical and emotional needs of my patients and their families.