Editor’s Note: Today’s story continues with the sixth installment with one Mighty Nurse as we walk with her through her nursing adventure. New stories in this series will be published on the second Tuesday of every month. The entire series can be found here, Walk with me.
We are officially at the halfway point, my friends.Hallelujah!!!
I apologize … I shouldn’t be quite so enthusiastic.
School should be fun.
But at this point we are all feeling a bit like a woman with four kids, three dogs, two horses who keep running through the fence, and a husband who is really wonderful, but travels so much that he just can’t help with any of it.
Essentially, we are under large amounts of stress every day, and all we can do is breathe, and roll with it, and try to show up at the right place at the right time and do our best with whatever we are supposed to be doing there.
The stress is not so much about the actual academic and nursing material, but more about an enormous amount of confusion involving last-minute changes of clinical sites, lab days, and exam times.
What are we suppose to be doing?
Basically, it’s a big disorganized mess that we are all trying to keep straight, all the while sitting in class listening to lecture for eight painful hours on Mondays and Tuesdays with an exam every Monday morning covering the previous week’s material.
It is more stressful than it needs to be due to this disorganization.
And there are some assignments which simply should not remain in the curriculum.
We are required to do home health visits, but cannot ride with the home health representatives (they are not nurses, but employees who check on low-income families for five minutes and make sure the children are okay and that the mothers have enough food stamps).
We must follow them to the homes in our own vehicles (which I do not have), to communities which are quite far away, through unfamiliar streets; and after this sometimes harrowing journey, the families are frequently not at home, or refuse to allow students in the front door.
This means that we have wasted a number of our clinical days driving for hours and miles and getting absolutely zero nursing experience.
Home health is very important, but the members of our administration who coordinate these experiences may not realize that these days are proving to be disasters.
They will be informed of this in the coming weeks.
On a more positive note, however, clinical days in the hospital are getting easier and feeling more like actual jobs!
It’s the part of the week we all look forward to, as we have two days where we are usually assigned to the same patient.
It is comforting to get to know the person and the case better over a longer period of time (well, unless the patient is of a volatile disposition … then it’s just about vigilant self-defense and damage control).
We finally know where things are on our floor!
We know most of the nurses, nurse’s aids, and even some of the physicians.
We finally know where to find pillow cases, soap, IV tubing, beverage thickener, and adapters for all kinds of syringes, lines, bags, and tubes.
It’s amazing how much that helps the flow of the day.
Nothing says “new nursing student” like that vacant, anxious look in the eyes as you spastically walk in a bumblebee pattern through the halls looking for someone who can tell you where to find that ointment.
Then there is the computer system … Every one seems to be different, and once you learn one, you’re on to a different hospital where the process begins all over again.
However, my hospital is still using a paper charting system.
This is painfully archaic at times, but it is a good opportunity to learn to chart well and organize one’s assessment of a patient.
Our clinical instructors are helpful and harmful to varying degrees.
Some are simply not good teachers … they have intimidating ways of providing “instruction,” and can give backhanded information which sets you up to fail.
I’m sure this is prevalent in all nursing programs, and it is unfortunate, but unavoidable.
I have managed to address the issues I have encountered up front, discussing them in a tactful manner with the instructor.
I have had superiors physically throw objects at me in the past, so I am far less intimidated by drama than most of my fellow students.
Because of this, I am trying to help build their confidence so that they can feel more communicative and take more ownership over their own learning experience.
After all, this is a career they will be building for a number of years, and this program is not cheap.
All this chaos and frenetic scheduling, the long days in class and the nerve-wracking days when our patient is always on the brink of decompensating, has to serve a purpose to us personally to build the nurse we will become.
And it all just goes by in a blur if we cannot pause for a moment and put the puzzle pieces together in order that we become a lucid, competent medical professional that we would trust to care for our loved ones.