We are finally at the halfway point in this 1 year ABSN program. So far we have covered Health assessment, Med-surg, Critical care, nursing research, and Maternity. Next month we start Pediatrics. The last couple of months have been so intense, I have not had time to do anything but go to school and study. The last post I made about school, was from a sleep deprived, overwhelmed by exams state. That was right before my Critical Care final, the hardest final I have taken so far. I prepared, and studied, and practiced NCLEX questions but still did not feel I had done well on it. Somehow, I squeaked an A- out of the class. After that we had Maternity Nursing, as well as the last half of Nursing research. I have to say that having 5 week terms is a killer. You just get to know a teacher and figure out how their lectures and reading assignments relate to their test questions and boom, you have a midterm and a final. Every 5 weeks, new class, new textbooks, new teacher, new clinical rotation (same lecture room, uggh), it is a whirlwind.
So let me fill you in a bit on my clinical rotations. This has been my favorite part of school, which tells me I am going to like the work when I get out. I had my Critical Care rotation at Alameda Hospital, a small community hospital, working in ICU and in the step-down unit (where you go after ICU and before going home). I really liked this rotation, the cases were complicated and there were many skills to learn. The doctors in this hospital treated us nursing students as actual people and spent time explaining concepts and discussing cases with us. I learned a lot from them. The highlight of this rotation was that I got to spend an evening in the ER. This is where I think I want to work when I am out of school and we don’t officially get a rotation in ER so I was thrilled to get this opportunity. I loved it. The night was busy, but not so busy that the other nurses couldn’t teach me. We had an older man with extremely high blood pressure, a woman who had fallen up some concrete steps and needed stitches and a guy who had cut his hand with a kitchen knife also needing stitches, a repeat drunk needing a banana bag, a woman in the last stages of liver cancer needing pain relief, and an older woman in the midst of a heart attack. I gave tetanus shots, irrigated wounds, gave pain meds, got ice packs, did several EKG’s, hung IV’s, and handed stuff to docs and nurses as they tended to the patients. I learned about keeping track of several patients and making sure blood was drawn for labs, meds got charted, and families were updated. The drunk guy had been there often enough that the nurses knew him, and they were joking with him, I got to start his IV and take it out when it was done, he didn’t care that I was inexperienced. The older woman having a heart attack was scared and pretty incoherent, her daughter brought her in and her granddaughter came later, there were quick decisions to make and it was incredible to be standing there with them while they talked with the doctor about the options to make her comfortable or intervene therapeutically. At one point we were trying to get a good EKG reading and she couldn’t be still enough to keep all the leads on; I got her to look me in the eyes and focus on breathing with me while everyone else was doing their thing. Her eyes were the same pale blue that my grandmother’s were, and I felt like we connected in a way that gave her some reassurance and comfort. In that moment I felt the real power of caring for someone, not the technical medical part that is part of tending to their health but the human part. I love all of those parts of nursing. I am pretty sure that ER is where I want to work, the challenge of each case and the being with people in a time of crisis, that is what I love.
The next rotation was Maternity at Kaiser Oakland Hospital. It was great as long as babies were coming, the rest of the time was pretty boring waiting around for the moment of birth. There is not that much to do while you are waiting. The labor process can be really long and if the end of your shift comes before the baby shows up, you have to leave and the next shift gets to be part of the birth. I lucked out that my first day the mom was ready to deliver right when I came on and I got a nurse that was willing to let me actually help. I won’t gross you out with details because I know many of my readers are not nurses, but the moment of birth was amazing and the baby was gorgeous. It is another one of those times you are with people at a really magical moment in their lives and words can’t describe how special it is. I cleaned the baby up, checked her over to make sure all the parts were there, helped get the mom started with nursing, and gave the baby her newborn meds. I worked in postpartum also for several shifts and spent my last day in the NICU holding a 4 pound little girl while she got her feeding through a tube in her nose. She was adorable, and a great way to end my rotation, in a rocker with a newborn.
Now after a week of shopping, baking, wrapping, addressing cards, and decorating we are ready for Christmas. It’s a good thing too, since it is tomorrow! Pat is home from college, Rose is climbing the walls with anticipation and Brian and Joe are making lefse. I am trying to do as little as possible; I’ve been sleeping in until 10 and sitting on the couch as much as possible. What? you don’t know about lefse? more about that another day (I took pictures).
Merry Christmas to you all!