Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Trip

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to be in Nursing School.

It's work. Boy is it WORK!

But it's good work. It's challenging, it's fun, it's crazy, it's hard work...Did I mention it's hard work?

Our classes and experiences have three main components:

Theory: lectures that happen twice a week for a few hours a day. This is your nutrition classes, learning about death & dying, grief, kidneys, incontinence, nursing practice and process, all the book-learnin' part of the nursing world. This is part of the process of training us to THINK like nurses, through sample test questions (we use iClickers to do surveys during the class to see what we've learned).

Then there's Supervised Skills Lab, where we learn how to DO things. So far we've learned vitals and assessments, and next week we have check-offs for intramuscular injections (IMs). You don't move forward until you've past check-offs. Period.

Then finally there's clinical -- Not "clinicals" -- Clinical.

In clinical, we go to an actual facility in our community, and under the incredibly watchful eye of one of our instructors/advisors, we give care to an assigned patient and help the other nursing aides and nurses on the floor. This experience is heavily monitored, and we prepare for everything hours in advance, so we know what to look for with our patient, and are well prepared in knowing what they're taking and what their needs are.

Today my first day was at a local Long Term Care facility. I had a 92-year-old grandmother who initially I was told had heart problems and a thrombolitic issue as well. She has fallen a few times, and as it turns out, the real crux of her problems were more related to her dementia than anything.

What an experience! My patient was very sweet and let me do things I needed to do (like vitals and assessments) and I helped her to breakfast and back, then I filed her nails and just let her talk for an hour and just listened to her train of thought go and go with pretty much nothing but dead ends. She'd say "There was that time I had a job and well, the guy there didn't know but I did. It's always just so...the people were good. They were up the road, and down the road. I never did understand what they were after..." Stuff like that. It just went on forever...and I just wanted to listen to see if there'd be any pattern or lucidity, but there wasn't much.

She reminisced about her childhood a little, and loved it that the LPN who gives her her meds left a post-it with a smiley face drawn on it, "He was HERE!" she kept saying, then would mention who "he" was -- either her husband or another family member, or her son who she said died in "the war" but not sure which one. "The war was over our heads up there," she said a few times. "I don't know what that means."

"That's ok," I said. "I don't either."

Anyway, it was a very interesting day...I was glad she was continent, but her roommate had trouble, so I got to help the CNA with getting her on/off the toilet and wiping up.

Oh! And a 96-year-old lady at breakfast, who was quite lucid and well groomed, came in and talked with the other ladies at the table. When I told them who I was, she said "I like your face. You have a nice face for a nurse."

When I got home I had a few more hours of cleanup paperwork, and we go back again tomorrow.

Fascinating, fun and fulfilling. Really, I couldn't feel better about what I'm doing!

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