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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Sunday, March 20, 2011

5 Weeks of Vascular Surgery

I started this post several times over the past few days. Friday was the last day of my acute care rotation, where I have been stationed on a Vascular Surgery unit.

You may recall that my instructor quit halfway through my rotation due to family issues, and we got a new instructor. Not just any instructor, but my Patho instructor from last year. I wasn't sure how changing instructors halfway through could possibly give either instructor a decent overview on how I did on this rotation. Especially considering how I was raked over the coals at my last evaluation. My confidence was so shaken and it's been nearly a year since my last acute care placement.

Wow. I take back almost everything I said about my Patho instructor last year. It actually pains me to read how harshly I critiqued her. I still remember how it felt, though, to be in her class and be absolutely boggled by how she would jump from one topic to the next without clear linear relationships between disease processes. It made me absolutely crazy and I learned Patho from a textbook because her teaching style didn't resonate with me.

But - as a nurse? As a clinical instructor?

I have been SO privileged to be under her care and direction for the past few weeks.

I even wrote on my course evaluation that she should be promoted to teaching other clinical instructors, she's that good. It's hard to put into words what exactly worked for me, but I'll try, so that one day I can remember what it took to make me feel like I have it in me, somewhere, to become a great nurse:

  1. Greet every student with a warm genuine smile, and a holistic appraisal of who we are and what we want to be. Even if that thing isn't in Nursing.
  2. Collaborate with students and encourage us to use our theoretical knowledge in practice. That knowledge is in there, somewhere - draw it out! Get us talking!
  3. Have high, high expectations for us. Expect that we will be safe, compassionate, knowledgeable caregivers. Have faith in our education. We will rise up to your high expectations and we might even exceed them.
  4. Once the plan of care has been decided, ask us to explain what we're about to do, and then leave us to it. We can and will do a much better job without an instructor breathing down our necks (such as priming TPN lines, choosing appropriate IV med tubing, choosing appropriate needles/syringes and drawing up meds). Follow up after to check our work. We will feel the weight of surveillance float right off our backs.
  5. Get involved in the patient's perspective and demonstrate how easy and spontaneous therapeutic communication can be! Segue seamlessly into those tough questions like suicide risk and spirituality! Show us how it's done!
  6. Give instant feedback. Good and bad.
  7. Treat us like adults. We are.
  8. Be excited for us. Be happy for us. Share in our accomplishments and celebrations. Encourage us liberally.
  9. Be fair, honest, and genuine in your appraisals.
  10. Come with us for a drink after the last evaluation. We all worked hard, dammit! We won't judge you. See #7.
So I hope I'm not sounding too sappy, but I absolutely, 100%, believed in, respected, and wanted her feedback on everything. She is a Great Nurse, and a Great Educator, and an Inspiring Leader, and how many times do you meet someone like that?

I can't tell you how many times former-students-now-RNs would come and find her on our unit, with tears in their eyes, and thank her for her contribution to their lives. Doubtless, I'll be the same way.

"UgRN," she said, reaching for my lapel;

"I wish there was a higher grade to give you than A+. You are caring, skilled, and holistic. This hospital is practically run by former students of mine. In my 15 years of teaching, I have developed an instinct for people who are Going Places. I can honestly say that you are one of them."

She pinned a small angel to my lapel.

"This is to remind you of 3 things.

"One, to remind you to connect to your spirituality if you find yourself in a situation that overwhelms you. If you are doing postmortem care for a recently-passed patient, and they moan as you turn them [I had told her about my possible interest in Oncology]. Connect it back to your spirituality, and I don't care if that's God, Buddha, Mohammed, or the Circle of Life. Once you do that, you will remember who you are and the importance of what you are doing.

"Two, you can be anything and go anywhere in nursing. I don't think you would like it, but you could be in management. You can be a Nurse Practitioner. You can excel at anything you put your mind to.

"Three, if you need me to vouch for you - and I don't care if it's 15 years from now - call me anytime. I might need you to send me your picture. But do that, and I will remember you, and you will have an excellent reference."

She smiled at me with tears in her eyes. I did the same. I have never felt that someone Got Me in the way that my instructor Got Me. She totally understood who I am and where I am coming from. She could see how much I love this work.

I am so very honored that she gave me the angel pin. I am not much of an "angel" person, but the significance of it outshines anything else I may ever get from an instructor. Every time I look down at my uniform, I will smile and remember what she said to me.


Kalanna said...

congratulations! and good luck in every endeavour in the future. you've given me goosepimples. hehe

Cartoon Characters said...

Great story! I am so glad you got a *Real* instructor after that last evaluation. I hope that carries you through to graduation and beyond!

Janine said...

Congratulations on the awesome review! She definitely sounds like a great instructor. I totally agree with point #4, by the way. So much less stressful when you don't have an instructor standing over your shoulder, critiquing your every move! I hope this excellent review strengthens your confidence back to where it rightly belongs. :-)

Zazzy Episodes said...

Aww see how great you are! What a beautiful show of respect from her to you, we need more instructors like her and congrats to you.

rnraquel said...

That is fantastic. I had an instructor like that in nursing school, and someday I hope to be a professor and treat my students as she did. Being treated like an adult is so huge. And it is such a great feeling when your instructor is happy for you and celebrates your accomplishments with you.
It sounds like you are doing wonderfully!

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