Third semester has brought with it (at least for me), a stronger sense of confidence, a deeper understanding of the nursing process, and the somewhat insecure awareness that I will be a nurse very soon. I’ve had the great honor to work with several successful nurses at Morton Plant Hospital, and I’ve learned so much from them. I feel empowered this semester, a trait I did not possess in either of the previous semesters.
The sense of confidence that I’ve gained pertains to the fact that I’ve had the chance to practice many pertinent nursing skills (and not just the “task” portion, but the thought processes as well), including: medication administration, hanging fluids and piggyback antibiotics, drawing up insulin, teaching side effects of meds, learning about meds and the importance of knowing all of them (or most all of them), prioritization, the business of caring for 2 or more patients and charting in a timely manner on all of them, a deeper understanding of labs and what they mean, and an attempt at initiating an IV to name a few. Although I was not successful at IV insertion, I feel much better about the big fear that has loomed over me this semester. It’s because I went through the steps and attempted on a real person with real eyes watching me, and on someone with real feelings. It’s much different then doing it on the classroom manikin (although that has it’s valuable place too). More importantly I learned from it and gained confidence for the next time. I know what I need to do next time in order to be successful. The wonderful thing about it though, is that I had the chance to try this skill, and the trust from not only the patient, but my instructor in performing this skill. That’s empowering.
Additionally, this semester I have a much better idea of the entire nursing process, and although I felt fairly strong in the area of holistic care from the previous semester’s, it’s coming together in a much clearer way this semester. Prioritizing care is another aspect of the nursing process, and was at the forefront of my semester, as an area of improvement for me. I did not master this technique, and I feel it may take much time before I do, but I do realize the importance of prioritization, and more so now, then last semester.
The last strong feeling I’ve experienced this semester, is the realization that I will be a nurse in a matter of months. This is not only exciting but overwhelming to me. I realize that people’s lives will be placed in my hands. I will be the sole caretaker for the patient’s in my care, while they’re in the hospital. Yes, the physician makes the final decision. Yes, he/she writes the orders. Yes he/she diagnoses. But, I will be the one who will monitor, teach, plan, coordinate, care for and notice the subtle changes that occur in my patients. I have to know when to call the doctor. I have to know when to question the doctor. I have to be there for the devastated patient and their family members. I have to administer the right meds, to the right patient, at the right time. I have to maintain sterile technique when performing certain skills. I have to coordinate care with other members of the healthcare team. I have to notice critical lab values, and notify the physician promptly. I have to apply all the accumulated knowledge I’ve gained in nursing school, and critically think as well as apply it to my patient. I have to tell the patient who has a critically low hemoglobin, and insists on getting up to the bedside commode, that she can’t do it. But, on the other hand, I have to know when to encourage the patient to get up out of the bed and move the limbs in order to get better. I have to possess the knowledge about meds to know when an ordered med doesn’t seem right for my patient (or is ordered at the incorrect dose) and then have the courage to call the doctor about it. I have to be on top of my game always, and sometimes I’ll have to catch things the doctor misses. The list goes on. It’s a great responsibly.
I possess an enormous amount of respect, awe and admiration for the outstanding nurses out there who care for their patient’s wholeheartedly, and I’ve had the privilege to work with a few of them this semester. The role of the nurse is different then other professions in that it’s always changing, it’s complex, and the responsibility is great. But, the challenges are what make this profession so rewarding and fascinating, and the successes even greater. Most importantly, as nurses we take a risk and put ourselves out there for so many people, and sometimes we cry, but sometimes we leave and realize we made a huge impact on someone’s life, and perhaps we even saved it. I’m excited about the challenge and position I will hold as a RN in a very short time from now, when I join the brilliant team of professionals who own the title R.N. Nurses are an exceptional bunch of people, and I love that I get to be apart of that team, even as nervous as that makes me feel right now, at this moment.