This morning I got up at 5 a.m. and set out by 6 a.m. to get to my first day of this semester's clinical. I swung by the homes of a couple of my classmates, who were catching a ride with me to Hyde Park, where the University of Chicago Hospital, where we're doing our clinicals are this semester.
It had been a while since I'd been in that part of town, but I knew my way around-- my friend Larry grew up there and used to catch a ride with me when we had breaks in college. Also, my brother got his PhD at the University of Chicago, and I used to visit him there. Still, it had been a while, and we foundered around a bit until we found the hospital. Happily, we were able to find a street space to park in and avoid the $20 parking fee.
One of my classmates got a call from our instructor-- she was running a half hour late. I was glad that a couple of the people there had had her as an instructor before; I had never met her and had no idea what she looked like. At about 7:30, she walked into the lobby and we went upstairs to the cardiac unit, where we'll be working this semester.
We gathered in a conference room and introduced ourselves to her and one another. I pointed out that I was leaving a teaching career to start a nursing career. Ms. B., the instructor talked about her basic policies, and talked about her love of the job (and made it clear that she expects us to have enthusism for it), showed us around the unit and set us off on a scavenger hunt-- we had to gather up a list of things on a list she gave us, things like an emesis basin, catheter tubing, a "4 x 4" gauze pad, a 23 Gauge needle etc. It was a great exercise. It made us comfortable with being on the unit and with identifying and handling various medical devices.
We gathered together so that Ms. B. could answer any questions we had on the equipment we gathered, then we returned the equipment to where it belonged. Happily, she dismissed us early. Next week will be the real deal.
At some point we discussed some of the stuff we'll do this semester. One of the biggies is dispensing medicine. This semester we'll stick to pills and lotiions, but at some point in the future we'll have to stick needles into people-- shots and PICC lines (IV's). I realized that from here on out, I'll be stepping outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis. And I think I'm okay with it.