"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Paralell Universe Begun

This post is way late because I have simply not had a single spare moment to write it since...last thursday! I had friday and saturday off and it was spent either sleeping in (MUCH needed- TRUST me, packing (moving into a new apartment in less than a week!). Craziness!

But its been on my mind, and I definitely wanted to share.

Recently I had a post about working with student nurses, and that I liked it. Well, that day when I made that first blog, they asked when I'd be working again with them and we figured out it would be this past Thursday. I was actually looking forward to teaching them again and all week anticipated their arrival.

However, when Thursday eventually came, we decided THAT morning to switch how we do our entire med pass system, in anticipation of our upcoming major medication renovation system. We are slowly converting to a much more modern and convenient way of doing our med passes. However just because its going to eventually be convenient, doesn't mean its convenient to switch now when I'm in my fifth week and just learned how to do med pass in the first place. Yikes.

So, here I am, on thursday. I have a pretty high acuity patient load. I had a very unique set of patients and no one in my section was particularly easy, one of them being the hardest yet I think I've ever had. Like, Ever. As an aide too.

So, processing my interesting section in my head, trying to organize my thoughts and getting used to these new med carts, all of the sudden, I see the students in the hallway.

I thought to my self, there is no.way. I cannot handle a student right now. I can't! I cannot. I am already behind, and swamped and how can I give a student report on my patient when I can't even gather my thoughts long enough to know what the hell is going on!? Part of me at that moment wanted to hide and wished I didn't have a student that day. I just didn't think I could take it on.

But, sure enough, a student came up to me. All bright eyed and ready for the day, with her new notebook. They already know wayyyy more about my patient, because here's how it goes:

Me: I get a 5-10 minute report on what my patient is in for, what we're doing to help him, how he/she did overnight/what has to be done this coming day and when he/she can go home. Thats it. 5 minutes

Student: Come the night before, write everything down from the chart (like, lab values dating back to two weeks ago), go home, research that ONE patient, and come in the morning, read the chart again to see if they missed a detail or two, and then  they come say hi to me. 

Boy, do I miss those days. One patient for the day. Research all night before you get them.

I used to think, when I was in clinical, that I better know everything on that chart because the nurse is going to quiz me! I thought for sure the nurses knew everything in that chart, and if I didnt know every detail then I was definitely going to fail. But as it turns out, I haven't "looked through" a chart, since I've started. Other than what I've HAD to do, to figure out why an order is the way it is, or to sign off on orders, or to track progress, etc. I have not had time to venture beyond "physician notes, nurses notes, and history and physical (thats if I'm lucky)" No time!

So, the students know more information than me, yes. But they don't know how to use  it. They don't know what it means. They haven't learned yet whats important.

So, back to my story, this student comes up to me. Even though in my head, I'm thinking of how far behind in the morning I am and how much I reallllly don't have time for a student, I put on my happy/nice nurse face persona and gave her report (did my best). She asked if she could not only do anything involving the patient she was assigned, but also follow me around for the day. I told her I was a little frazzled, to be honest,  and that I needed to just make a plan for the day and collect my thoughts but that I would definitely pull her into any out of the ordinary learning experience any of my patients had.

Eventually, I got in to see the patient she was specifically assigned to. She was with him doing therapeutic communication (even though I can't say I've heard that patient talk more than a whole sentence strung together at one time, so i'm not sure how that was going....) and I taught her how to do my kick-ass nursing assessment that I learned from my school. After we left, I taught her my kick-ass way of documenting that assessment on my paper before I had time to put it in the computer. After that, we went to go assess my other patient, who had far more interesting abnormalities, so I got to teach her a lot about why that was the case.  I made sure to answer every single one of her questions, and make myself open to ask more questions if she so chose (I think thats really important). That way, even If I DO get really busy with other patients, she shouldnt

So I got to do a lot of education, about medications, assessments, vitals, nursing in general, and that was just me "getting by", I was really just trying to do my best with her and praying she wasnt thinking I was a complete neurotic nut that was all over the place.

Well, turns out, when she was done for the day, she was supposed to come give me "report" on my patient. I remember those days too, but now that I think about it- that concept is pretty silly. I was with the patient as much as she was and was already familiar with what was going on, but I listened to her report anyway.

She gave me a tiny report (there really wasnt much to say on the guy) and then right before she left, she told me something I'll never forget. She told me that I changed everything for her. That she learned more from me in two hours then she has learned all this time so far in school ( I found that hard to believe!), she told me that driving here on the way to clinical, she thought to herself that she didn't think she could do this anymore- this nursing profession road. She thought she wasn't capable, that it wasn't for her. She told me that after last clinical, she had such a rotten time that she went home crying (I remember those days, too). But today (thursday), everything changed when she was with me. She told me I made things make sense. It just did. She told me I made it possible in her eyes that she could do it too one day, and reassured her that there were nice nurses still out there. She thanked me a million times for being so understanding, kind, patient, caring and thoughtful and overall a fantastic nurse.

I have to say, I pretty much just stood there, looking at her. I did not know what to say- I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was she talking about me?

She then went on to say that everyone in her nursing class should have a one day session with me as the nurse, and that way everyone could learn as much as she did that day.

I was absolutely flattered. But I couldn't believe it! I even told her, that she was very sweet but that I was honestly just doing my job. I explained to her I was just recently in her shoes less than a year ago and will never ever forget what its like. I won't forget tomorrow and I won't forget in twenty years. Nursing students, despite their lack of critical thinking and overall knowledge base, are the future. If you want future nurses to be terrible, then don't teach them. And then be pissed at them all the time when they are new graduates and never learned the right way. Or, take the time to really teach them. Show them tricks, take them under your wing, be NICE. From that you grow a nurse just like me. Thats how I grew. Not only did I learn from bad and good nurse examples in clinical and remember every moment on how I was treated as a student, but I have spent the past five years watching good and bad nurses on my floor. 

So, she told me that because of how great her day went that day, that I changed her mind about her career, and now she wanted to stick with nursing. I was honest and told her there was a long road ahead, but its so worth it in the end. Its worth it. And, it gets better, it really does. I also gave her my number if she ever had another crises where she didn't think she could do it anymore and needed encouraging words. Was that too far over the top? Probably. Who knows. But to know that I changed someones life? Thats huge! Hopefully she'll make a good nurse and I changed her life for the better. Its just amazing and hard to believe that because of me, because I was at work that day taking care of that patient, that I changed how she thought of the entire career. Pretty cool :)

As for myself, I'm definitely putting some thought into becoming a student again sometime soon within the next two years. Its crazy how much I'm already learning. I can't wait to take my experience back to the classroom and learn even more to build on top of the experience I'm already getting. In this lifetime, I will never go to med school to be a doctor. I'm already 23 and that is never going to happen. However I'm starting to realize that I probably could have been a doctor, but I'd make a better nurse. I'm starting to get to that point now that I can anticipate what the doctor will want when I call him on the phone. I suggest things for him. I come up with diagnoses in my head (I dont share them...yet- in fear of being wrong). I know being a doctor has got to be one of the most stressful jobs ever. Especially when they don't know whats wrong and they have to figure out the mystery. But besides that, they just follow protocols, follow standard type treatments, treat abnormal lab values, infections, surgeries, maintain health, etc. They have guidelines (for 70% of their patients).  But who knows....I'm sure it really is a lot harder than I think it looks. I didn't think nursing looked (that) hard when I was just an aide. I was way wrong.

So, its been a fantastic couple of weeks. So much learning, so much fun.....I have a good set of patients this week and can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Goodnight, with love--



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