About Me

undergrad RN
I'm a twenty-something Canadian student. After stumbling through a few years of college, I finally managed to get into the nursing school of my dreams, where I hope to graduate in 2012 with a nursing baccalaureate degree. I want to offer an honest look into how a modern nurse is educated, both good and bad. Eventually I hope to compare my education to my day-to-day career and see how it holds up. Whatever happens, it should be somewhat entertaining. Find me on allnurses.com!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My First Clinical!

'Twas the night before Monday
And at the back of the house
On iChat I chatted
With my absentee spouse

My uniforms were laid 
On the bedside with care
Crazy print, teal, and navy
They were all three of them there

The bathroom was ready
For the next morning's rush
My specs, hair stuff, and towels
And of course my toothbrush

In the kitchen, my lunch
Was prepped and ready to go
With snacks of all shapes and calories
And my tea mug in tow

By the door, ready, waiting
My shining white shoes
My backpack, my ID badge
(Which I must try not to lose)

Then, finally, it was time
To get snug in my bed
And the prospect of being a real nurse
Danced around in my head

(I hope you enjoy that little ditty. It took me a while :)

Ah, yes, Monday. The BIG DAY!

Ok, here's how it went. I woke up at my usual time - 0630ish - and meandered around the house for a bit while I woke up. I wrote my blog post on my scrubsperience and then got all of my papers together. My clinical buddy gave me a call around 0730 and showed up soon after. I gathered the rest of my stuff and we left the house. We caught the bus around 0750 and headed to the hospital.

Happily we didn't have too long of a bus ride because I looked at my watch and we were right on time! So we went to meet everyone in the lobby. There were about 15 students there, which were 2 clinical groups combined together for the first day's orientation. We were supposed to be ready in our uniforms but several of us didn't get a chance to change. No problem, however, as our clinical instructors moved us out en masse, in search of our lockers.

Ok - let me just say this: This hospital is CRAZY in regards to the floor plan. We were going upstairs, downstairs, across pedways, and upstairs again. Our instructor asked us, once we arrived at the HR office, 

'Okay, does everyone remember how to get back?' 

Uh, no. 

I hope I figure it out sooner than later. There didn't appear to rhyme or reason, or even good signage! At least one of the girls in my clinical group works at that hospital as a porter. She knows how to get everywhere!

So we got all cleared at the HR office and went off in search of locker rooms. We spent forever looking. And looking. We walked down stairs and up stairs and farther down again. We were in, I shit you not, the underbelly of the hospital. There were pipes and steam and things smelled like oil, and there were maintenance guys and old broken beds and everything. And we schlepped on, back and forth, up and down. We were wandering for an hour at least. And our clinical instructors were in the lead! Not even Porter Girl knew where we were.

Finally our instructor was like, uh, ok. How about you guys go back to the main restaurant and grab a coffee, and we'll try and figure this out.

Apparently there were in fact lockers available for all of us female students but there was one male student and they couldn't figure out where the male lockers were!

So we hung out by Timmy's and chatted nervously for a while. Some orientation so far :) Finally they returned with actual real directions on where to go, so we managed to get our lockers sorted and we then met up on the unit.

1000 hrs: 15 sweaty-palmed first year students huddle in a tight group at the edge of the unit, peeking nervously onto the floor.

Finally, it was time. Our instructors walked out onto the unit and began to show us around!

It's a sub-acute ward with a fairly geriatric population. No one's in life or death (thank God) and mostly it's just old folks who are too sick to live at home and are waiting for a transfer to a nursing home. There was a younger guy on the ward on suicide watch as well so it was a bit varied.

First impressions: the unit is tiny. It's a cramped hallway with perhaps 15 rooms with 2 beds in each. The hallway is even more cramped by all the equipment and (what looks like) junk all over the place. The nursing station is manned by two harried clerks (who we are on strict orders to not bother) and there is a teeny-tiny office at the back with a sort-of break area. There's a patient kitchen which is just composed of a sink and some cupboards, a fairly lux-looking bath room (I want to take a bath in it - soooo deep), and a utility/linen room.

The unit was made even more cramped by the fact that there were FIFTEEN OF US wandering around. I felt so awful, all the nurses were trying to get around us and get their jobs done but it's like we were coming out of the goddamn woodwork!

So we were introduced to a few of the nurses when they had a minute. The first one advised us to 'get out while we still could'. Why, oh why would you say that to first year students on their first day? Thanks, nurse-preceptor-lady, that's great encouragement. It was so cliche that I was annoyed but not angry.

After the brief intro we were split into teams of 4 and given scavenger hunt lists of equipment to find. It took a while and it was pretty fun. I've never really been in a hospital before (certainly never as a patient) so getting to rummage through all of the drawers and cupboards and go in the 'Staff Only' doors was great! We left no drawer unopened, no lid unturned. 

The only beef I really had was with how many of us there were. We were all over the effin place. I felt kind of bad. Especially because, from the patient's perspective, there were like a million nurses on the floor and not one of them would stop to help. I smiled at one old lady and she said....

 'I've been waiting for help for a while now'.

Stop. Freeze.

Did she just ask me for help?

Does she not see the flashing INCOMPETENT sign over my head?

Does she not realize that I am USELESS in terms of patient care?


*insert hyperventilation*

And then I realized:

Because, silly, you are wearing a uniform. You have an ID badge. You look like a nurse. And from where she's standing, you are a nurse, first-year useless student or not.

As my instructor later said: You have just as much a right to be here as any of the paid employees. This is a teaching hospital, and you are doing the job of learning. Ergo, while you are here, you are staff.

This was my shining moment in clinical: Even though I feel like an extraneous toe in terms of competency and utility, I have a purpose in clinical and that is to learn

Perhaps you are thinking, uh, yeah, ugrn, that's... pretty obvious. 

Well, maybe it was so obvious that I missed it entirely. :)

Clinical was dismissed quite early on Monday so that experience and the scavenger hunt pretty well wraps up my first day. I hope yours is, was, or will be as good to you as mine was to me.


Sarrah said...

I loved your poem :)
I remember my first clincial, I was really nervous. Yours sounds like it was lots of fun, I would have loved to have had a scavenger hunt.

KLS said...

Love the poem...and your blog! Thanks for posting about your first clinical experience! I start in March and am soooo nervous!

I like the idea you had of placing the advice on the sidebar, just might have to copy as I've come across some gems as well.

Drofen said...

We get to do a clinical scavenger hunt too. I can't wait, LOL!

Lou said...

just came across your blog and I'm so happy I found it! I am trying to get into a local (Canadian)BN program for fall of this year.

I'm so curious about clinicals etc. and feel so much better having an idea what to expect. Thank you!

I'll be visiting your blog often. Keep up the great work!

P.S. I just started my own blog (which is a bit on the boring side at the moment due to the fact that I'm not actually IN nursing school yet.)

undergrad RN said...

Thanks you guys :) It was such a good time. I'm so excited for next week when we will be taking health histories with patients one on one!!

Did I say excited, I mean terrified :D

@Lou - welcome to the blogosphere! We need more canucks :) If you check the archives you'll see that my blog was also pretty low on content before last September, lol

Tiffany said...

I absolutely love your poem!

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