A week ago Monday began semester 2 of nursing school. The big question from family and friends lately is, “How’s school?”
Semester 1 was good, and surprisingly not as scary as I thought it would be. I think I hyped myself up quite a bit, and I also think that because of that, I better prepared myself for the craziness. If I hadn’t hyped myself up then maybe I would’t have been on top of my game, had a plan or ever said the words “no”. I had a schedule in place. I warned my family and friends that I’d probably have to say no to extra curricular activities. Every second was accounted for and if it didn’t include study, reading or Doug and the girls then it was a long hard thought in my mind about wether or not I could participate. And, because of that it worked out pretty well. I did well. I got all A’s on my exams, quizzes were a different story though, although I did pretty well there too. I learned so much and overall I felt even more excited after completeling semester 1, to become a nurse.
Going into nursing school I thought I knew the roles and responsibilities of an R.N., especially after volunteering at Mease Dunedin Hospital for a few years and working under expert nurses at Bayfront.
I will not forget what Dr. McGill, one of my nursing instructors said to us during one of our first lectures in the 1st semester of nursing. She said, “You don’t know what a nurse does, and neither does your family, friends or neighbors.” I didn’t understand this until we got deeper into our studies and into the semester. Now I understand and she’s 100% right! Unless you’re in nursing school or an R.N., then I honestly think you don’t know what a nurse does. Sure, you may know some of the little things she/he attends to (medication admin, injections, dressing changes, CPR and charting), but otherwise you probably don’t grasp the scope of what’s involved. It’s actually pretty amazing and after completing the 1st semester, I’m even more excited then before starting the program, about the path I’m pursuing.
I learned that a nurse cares for a patient holistically, which means he/she not only cares for the physical wounds or internal injuries, but in addition to caring for the body, he/she also cares for the mind and soul. A nurse treats the mind, body and soul.
Nurses are there to listen and communicate effectively to the patient who can’t talk to anyone else about their issues. We don’t judge, and even if we think we know a better way that a patient could do things, we offer our advice, but ultimately we respect the patients opinion.
Nurses are the ones who hold the hand of the mother who stands crying at the bedside of her 30 year old son, who may never come out of the coma. The nurse is also the one who comforts the family who has lost the matriarch or patriarch of their family.
The nurse is the one who decides that immediate action should be taken after noticing that a patient has changed course, even if its a very slight change. It’s because he/she is the one who’s attended to the patient for 12 hours at a time, and can notice those subtle shifts in body activity or personality.
The nurse is the one who communicates in such a way that allows the patient to open up and express his or her feelings.
The nurse is the one who carefully and skillfully changes the dressing of a patient who’s been in a motorcycle accident.
The nurse gives pain meds, and offers alternative therapy like a back massage, distraction or music therapy when a patient is in too much pain that nothing else seems to relieve it.
The nurse has to be aware of what is going on internally with the patient and investigate lab reports to be aware of wether or not everything is in sync, and that is no easy task.
The nurse has to not only respect and accept the many different types of people and personality’s that walk through the unit, but also have a solid understanding of all religions and culturals, because that affects so many aspects of care. Some cultures don’t allow eye contact and some religions prohibit certain foods, and nurses have the responsibility to not only embrace that but support it. We also have the responsible to not judge (I love that).
Nurses are the ones who advocate for the patient, when the family has another opinion or the doctor has not attended to the patients need. We also advocate for the patient when the patient isn’t being their own advocate.
Nurses are role models and teachers to their patients and inspire them to work hard for their health or recover.
Yes, we insert IV’s, NG tubes, foley catheters. Yes, we listen to heart, lung and bowel sounds. Yes, we administer meds and give injections. Yes, we prepare patients for surgery and take care of them afterwards. Yes, we plan care for speedy recovery and implement ambulation and daily living activities. Yes, we critically think ALL THE TIME. But, we do much more then just the technical. We listen, advocate, counsel, inspire, love, empathize, motivate and teach as well. We care for the mind, body and soul! That is what I love about nursing!!
Even though nurses can’t medically diagnose, we are always diagnosing in our head (or with our approved nursing diagnoses) and solving the many fascinating puzzles of the human body and each body consists of different puzzle pieces. Nurses inform the doctor and give their opinions, which is usually spot on, especially coming from an expert and seasoned nurse. The human body is complicated, fascinating and thrilling, which makes nursing the same three aspects. Nursing is a never ending learning process.
The lives of patients depends upon the skills of the nurse, which is not only a huge responsibility but a great reward. Nurses become so intimately involved in the lives of their patients and have the duty to give of themselves in such a way that communicates respect and care for the ones they care for. The patient is vulnerable, sometimes unable to do the simple tasks they once were able to do. They rely on the nurse (sometimes completely). We are the ones who spend the entire day with our patients, sometime more time then family and loved ones. I have definitely chosen the correct path for my life, and even though I’ve never doubted nursing as the path for me, I have even more certainty after starting the nursing program.
Semester 2 is awesome. We’re learning about diseases, drugs (technically called Pharmacology) and maternity. We received our clinical schedule today, and my OR (operating room) day and ER (Emergency Room) day are booked. I can’t wait!! When I graduate, I plan on working in the ER, then eventually trauma, so I can’t wait to see how things operate in the ER, during cliniclas. OR has always been a fascination as well, so I’m super excited for that experience.
I have a great support system. Doug is wonderful to me, and takes great care of me during this busy time of my life. I’m in school all day, 4 days a week, then I have added a 12-hour shift at Mease Dunedin once a week. I work there under the title of Nurse Apprentice 1. It’s perfect, because it gives me a chance to implement some limited skills I’ve learned so far in nursing school and also ask a lot of questions to the skilled nurses on the floor. Additionally, I just love patient care. I’m operating within my passion and purpose when I’m in the hospital taking care of people. It’s fun! And I’ve heard that when work is “fun” and you’re doing what you love, then your operating within your purpose for life. That’s exciting.
I’ve had a busy week of studying as I prepare for my first exam tomorrow a.m., and I have the best study partners ever! They include-
these beauties (not all of the beauties are pictured below)-
I love that I get to go through this program with women who are not only intelligent and passionate about nursing, but also make me laugh and smile everyday! We have fun together and we support one another, which is key during this exciting but also stressful time of life.
Hope you are well! And to those I haven’t seen lately, I love you dearly. I know I haven’t been around or called, but guess what…I get the entire summer off…….well mostly, with the exception of one hospital day a week! I need to stay focused and continue working hard because it is very hard work. But it will be so worth it, and someday I may be taking care of you or answering questions from those midnight calls that you make to me ; )
Have a great rest of the week friends and family.