Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Learning experiences come in the least expected ways

It is amazing how different the clinical experiences can be from week to week. Last week my nurse taught me quite a bit. She didn’t really let me do much, but she did teach me tons. This week, my nurse didn’t teach me a thing, or at least not like my first nurse did. She pretty much assigned me a patient and let me have at it. I suppose that in itself taught me as well.

I honestly can’t say one was better than the other. I really enjoyed learning from the nurse in that first week, and it was nice to be able to follow her around and get a feel for things rather than jumping in right from the start. It was also nice to be able to actually do things this week though. Today I was able to attempt to start an IV twice, didn’t get it on either try but neither could my clinical instructor so I didn’t feel so bad. I removed a foley, gave meds and water through a PEG, and hung IV piggyback meds/fluids. I’ve done more today than 80% of the students last semester were able to do during their entire semester.

There was something else I learned today though that I think might be even more valuable than any of these skills.

Not to let anyone scare me away from being who I need to be.

My patient today came with a sitter. A PCT that sat with him all day long, repositioning him and making sure he didn’t rip out his IV (which he did), his PEG (which had to be inserted because he kept ripping out his NG tube), or didn’t fall out of bed.

I went in early to look at my patient (yes, I actually did somewhat of an assessment this time, even though he was unresponsive) and to help my nurse and the tech reposition him. The PCT was pretty snotty with me. Snapping at me about which side of the bed I needed to be on, making snide comments about my technique (or lack thereof), didn’t even acknowledge me when I introduced myself and pretty much scared the crap out of me within my first hour on the floor. I walked out of the room very tempted to try to get my nurse to change my assignment. I sat outside his room staring at his chart and told myself “Self, you can do this. Dealing with people that are hard to get along with is part of the learning process”.

And I did just that.

When I went in next it was to try to start an IV. I was scared shitless and a lot of that fear was of the sitter and not the patient. Before I walked in the room, I tried my best to calm my nerves and just went for it. I ignored the PCT and just let my instructor help me. I have no idea what changed but after that the PCT started warming up to me. When I went in again to help reposition, she was completely opposite from the first time. She was friendly and warm, and again when I went in to remove the foley and was struggling with unclamping the drainage bag she offered to help, as friendly as can be.

If I would have let her get to me in the beginning, and got my assignment changed because of her, I would have missed so many great opportunities. I let people scare me too much. I’m not a crier. I can keep my emotions in check pretty well, but my biggest downfall is letting people scare me.

I’m actually really proud of myself for not letting that happen today.


  1. Sometimes I find that people are not mad at me personally, sometimes they are mad at the world, or just upset that day over something I don't have anything to do with.

    Some people don't acknowledge others when they are not feeling well. I used to use the excuse "you never know what that person's life is outside of work" (my Mom used to tell me that).

    Sometimes it is true. I'm glad things turned around for you that day. Don't let what others do or don't do for you get you down. You are doing such good things for others. That is my two cents worth.

    And don't let what others say to you define you. You know how hard you work... and you know how much good you do and how much you are learning. It took me awhile to learn this myself. ::hugs::

  2. Great post. One of the hardest things in the medical field is not letting people intimidate you and keep you from doing your job.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Hoping I can remember to follow your advice and not let anyone scare me away from being who I need to be. I try not to get intimidated easily but I have a feeling working it will be different working in healthcare.