Today was our last day of clinical… and I think it was a good day for everyone (far better than last Friday, that’s for sure). I had the same patients two days in a row, both oncology patients. I had a good teaching moment with one today… we were trying to keep his O2 sats up, which meant getting him up in his chair, taking deep breaths, etc. This morning I went to check his sats and he was surprised to see find out that his was in the “good” range as he was feeling worn out from standing up/moving around. I did a demonstration of how standing or sitting in a chair helps to open up the lungs and improve oxygen levels, whereas being in bed reduces the area that the lungs can expand. The light went on… he said to me, “Well, I guess I’ll stay in this chair instead of getting back in bed, then!” It feels really good when you can finally get the patient to understand why you’re making them do something and how it will help them get back home. We had a good rapport and I really enjoyed working with him.
My other patient was a much sadder case. Yesterday I was warned that he was kinda grumpy… so I mostly tried not to bug him, though I did call down to dietary to get him the sodas he wanted. Then towards the afternoon he asked if we could wheel him into a shower because he’d been too weak for days to take one. So we did that and there happened to be a whirlpool tub in the shower room. He mentioned how good it would feel to soak for a while, so I promised him that today we’d see what we could do about getting him in there… and we did! I don’t know if anyone ever uses that darned thing, but man, it was worth it to see how happy it made him to be able to relax in the bath. He gave me the nicest compliments on the way back to his room saying that he could tell that I cared and how glad he was that I’d taken the time to listen to him. He told me that if I kept up my attitude that I’d be at the top of my field. It felt really good to hear that from a patient. It’s amazing how sometimes it’s the smallest things you can do for someone that makes him/her feel cared for, feel better: getting the patient washed up, throwing a blanket in the dryer for a few minutes to warm it up, cleaning up the tray table because the clutter is annoying to the patient. It reminds me of why I went for nursing instead of medicine. I like being able to see that and know that I did something good… maybe not life-changing, but good.
We also had another happy moment today when a patient who has been in the hospital for about as long as we’ve been there (and I think every one of us took care of her at some point in the semester) came walking down the hall with an aide. We weren’t sure for a while whether she’d even survive, and it seemed very fitting to see her making strides of her own on our last day (though she looked rather put out when she walked past the nurses’ station and we were all cheering for her).
The nurses and other staff were great. My nurse today was telling me that she didn’t understand why some nurses feel the need to “eat their young.” She said that she really enjoys teaching and that we were a big help to the staff. It was nice to hear that, too, especially after hearing about some of our other students’ clinical sites where they’re asked, “Well, what CAN you do?” The leader on our floor was also really good. She had a full assignment today and was the nurse for one of my patients. She’s a big fan of the “grilling” method of teaching… you ask her a question and she asks one back and waits patiently with a smile while you squirm hoping you answer her correctly. But it is good because you learn a lot. I hope they know how much we enjoyed working with them (we left an offering of Dunkin Donuts and a card!). I hope hope hope that our next clinical rotation goes as smoothly.
All in all it was a darned near perfect day. I think some of my other fellow students got compliments from their patients and nurses, too. Things seemed to conspire to come together for us on our last day. I hope we made our instructor proud and contributed for some good PR for those weird direct-entry graduate nursing students 😉