I have class tomorrow for a couple of hours, and no clinical this week because of Thanksgiving. After that, a few more classes, then a cumulative final.
We had a test yesterday. A couple of my fellow students I talked to didn't feel good about it. Happily, I was not in that category. I knew I'd done well on it.
As my first semester of nursing comes to a close, I had some reflections.
At the beginning of the semester, I was a nervous wreck. Before tests and clinicals, I was nearly at the point of hyperventilating. The last two tests I was calm. The last two clinicals-- particularly my last one-- I've been good.
My clinical group is, except for one classmate, who missed it because her husband is being deployed to Afghanistan, in the picture at the top of the post. The instructor is the lady in the center. They are, as you can see, quite a diverse group. Eric, the guy at the left, top just graduated from high school a few years ago. I'm at the top right. At 48, I'm the oldest person in the clinical group (and the class).
I've ended up working with Karen, the woman at the top, second from the left, several times in clinical. She's a great partner-- we learned a lot from one another working together-- learning to read charts, doing "head to toe" assessments of patients, etc. She reminded me several times of something important: listen. I have a tendency to fill in silences. Sometimes with a patient, patience with a long silence ends up yielding valuble information.
In our last day of clinical we had a patient who was a 65 year old woman who was in for severe vomiting. We'd looked over her charts and seen the things we'd expect-- parentaral (IV) fluids, anti-nausea drugs and pain meds. After checking in with our instructor and talking to our patient, who was doing much better, we discussed clinical concerns. With vomiting and diahrrea, loss of electrolytes, particularly potassium, is an issue. We'd noticed before seeing her that her potassium was low. After talking to her, it wasn't clear to us that a potassium supplement had been given. We asked the instructor to open up the patients chart again so that we could check for the missing potassium supplement.
The instructor had a little smile when she opened up the chart for us. Later, I realized what was going on; we'd shown the ability to think critically. We knew what to look for in the situation. I realized later that when we went to ask her if we could go back and check on the potassium supplement, we'd passed our clinicals. Our instructor was confident in us.
And we did find the potassium supplement when we checked back on the MAR.
In a couple of weeks, we register for next semester's classes. It's done by lottery-- you get your choice of class assignment (and instructor) by your lottery number. I have number 59 out of about 115. I would prefer to have my current instructor, but may have to take my second choice.
Whatever class I end up in, I've had a good time with this group. As far as study partners, I've gravitated toward the two who share my general demographics, my clinical partner Karen and Cyd, bottom left in the picture. We're all married, in our forties and have kids. But the class, with 20 people in it, became a very tight group. We helped one another with studying, emergencies, missed classwork, etc. I've come to realize that over the years, as we finish school and head into the profession, we'll run into one another. There will be a special place in our hearts for the people who shared the very first steps of this journey with us.