July 22, 2012
Well, 10 weeks have gone by. And it’s weird because I feel like we just started, but I also feel like a different person. My life for the past 10 weeks have consisted of me working with kids, talking to other members of the healthcare team, looking up meds and pathophys of diseases, etc. for 36 hours a week. I guess it’s the closest thing to being a nurse as I’ve experienced so far. Somehow, I feel older. They say you only have to do something 21 times for it to become a habit. I think coming into work and doing at least 21 clinical days kind of gave me what it really feels like to be an RN. And I loved every second of it.
This experience is definitely different from being a student nurse – both as a UMB student in clinicals and UMMC student nurse employee. It requires more critical thinking, you’re more involved in the plan of care, and you’re held more accountable. There’s a certain level of responsibility put on you that was never there as a student nurse or as a tech. It’s scary. But if I wasn’t feeling even a tiny bit scared, I probably wasn’t paying attention. It’s a good kind of scared, though. It doesn’t mean I’m afraid to do my job. It just means I am fully realizing my role as a nurse.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say that I definitely feel more competent now. This is the most confident I’ve felt about being a nurse. Yes, we go to class and go to clinicals once or twice a week during the semester. But going to work full-time really sharpened my skills. And I don’t mean just drawing up meds, doing procedures to/with patients, or doing assessments. I think I’ve also gotten better at time management, prioritizing things I have to do, asking the right questions, and communication. I know that there are still things I have to work on, things I still have to learn. But I’ve also realized that there are necessary things to be a good pediatric nurse that cannot be taught. And I’m trying to strengthen these qualities, like being compassionate, understanding, patient, and from time to time, being silly.
During my 10 weeks in pediatrics, I have met some of the most wonderful nurses I’ve ever worked with. They were smart, hard-working, goal-oriented, friendly, funny, and very inspiring. I’ve also met some of the bravest, strongest, and most unforgettable kids. It’s easy to forget that some of these patients are 5 years old, seeing the way they carry themselves, the way they talk, or the way they teach me how to hook up their feeds. It’s also easy to forget that the hospital is a place that no one wants to be in. We come in day in and day out taking care of these people. We show up at 7am, ready for report, ready for another day at work. I mean, this is our life. But to most patients, these are the hardest days of their lives. It’s an experience that is stressful and scary, when their families and friends are gathering together to pray for them, and for some people, even something they just want to forget about. It’s not just another day for them. And it’s an overwhelming privilege to be a part of a team that is given the opportunity to make this experience as pleasant as possible. This is even more important with pediatrics, because they don’t know what’s going on, they don’t understand why they’re in pain, and all they want to do is go home. It’s tougher on them than most patients. If I can do something to make their hospital stay better, then I’ve done what I feel like I’m being called to do.
It’s going to be weird going back to school in the fall, or even going back to being a tech. It’s the same hospital, but two very different experiences. If there were any doubts about me being a pediatric nurse, or being a nurse in general, those doubts are now long gone. I may be working at 10East, but I think my heart will be staying at 5A.