The last few weeks I’ve been talking to my squad of future RN’s about all things to do with life as being a nursing student. We have discussed what it feels like to be on the outside of life, how much pharmacology can suck balls along with Sheila. How ridiculous assignment writing and the way they are formatted are and how we are going to achieve success with placement.
This of course got me thinking about blog posts related to placement. I have thought of ’10 things nursing students need to bring to placement’ or ’10 things I’ve learnt on patient centred care’.
After writing several paragraphs on each topic/blog, I sat there thinking ‘what is this shit?’ Even though I have been on placements countless times within the last three years of nursing college, I felt like I couldn’t write anything along those lines. This stemmed from the thought that all of us have different formats, needs and expectations when it comes to placement.
It also means that each of us have individualistic plans that we have formatted and structured over the last two or three years. We have learnt how to reframe our ways of thinking and feeling towards patients, their family members and our stress levels.
We have learnt from our plan of attack, what works for us and don’t work for us. How we are going to handle those mentors who are really nice and will allow us as students to fly the coop, knowing we will not fuck up.
To how we are going to handle those who make us feel inadequate and less talented in regards to our skills and confidence. This of course made me turn around and ask my nursing squad what their thoughts and feelings were about nursing and placement.
I got told by Mrs. Hotline Bling, ‘the people with the greatest capacity for good are the ones with the greatest capacity for evil’. This quote from our mutual love, Nurse Jackie, made her think of the buddy nurses she has been paired with over the past few years, who have been so brilliant with patients and at their job. But yet, failed miserably and were awful with students.
So last night while I was browsing to see if Grey’s Anatomy had been updated, I couldn’t help but think….. ‘Is my life like Grey’s Anatomy?’
I originally thought when I watched the pilot show of Grey’s, it was going to be interesting show as it was medical based, it had a relatable set of characters and there was something about it that said ‘watch me’. I never actually thought it would have a part in my life as an independent woman, a woman in a fierce and sometimes harsh world of business and a woman who wants to strive for the best. Particularly as someone who wishes to make a name for herself, which is derived from sheer hard work, long hours of sweat, tears and blood being shed.
This first lesson wasn’t McSteamy and McDreamy being McBastards’ and Meredith locking herself in the bathroom, crying over split milk.
The first lesson Grey’s Anatomy taught me was life as a nursing student and future RN was: it’s normal to ask yourself ‘Who feels like they have no idea what they’re doing?’ before promptly raising your hand. I find this is one of the many questions I ask myself on a daily basis as I face my many hurdles, bounds and rocks during my life as a nursing student.
This questions seems to be asked even more while I am on placement, staring at a chart containing a shit ton of medications that I am going to be administering. Although I appear cool, calm and collected on the outside as I pretend like I am a professional in this business; on the inside, I am shaking in my boots.
Because all it takes is for a simple miscalculation and I watch you literally die in front of my eyes. So while I fill out paperwork as to the reason why you died in my care, I will be no doubt repeating that some question as to ‘who feels like they have no idea what they’re doing?’ as I mentally kick my arse.
On an average day as I stare at my crowded table containing textbooks, assignments that are needing to be started, halfway completed or nearly finished; I ask myself that question. A minimum of 12 times as the stress, doubt and anxiety flood my system. As I wonder what my life would be like post college, post graduation and I am in the real world as a registered nurse.
Which leads to the second lesson Grey’s has taught me.
I soon learnt this lesson on my first day of college after having stepped into a pot hole filled with water and being splashed by a car driving past me.
It has taught me to understand and accept the fact not every shift is going to be easy, calm with a relaxed vibe to it. Rather there are going to be times when I deal with wet socks, pants and clothes after a patient has decided I need to have a shower with them. My socks are filled with a patient’s vomit or blood as I fight to save them from being sucked into that void of darkness or light. I’ve also been taught the lesson there’s going to be times where I am going to collapse into my seat while I am on my break and wonder, ‘why did I go into nursing? Is it really my passion?’
It has also taught me how to be empathetic and is return, has taught me my third lesson.
There have been more than a few times I have stared at someone, whether they are a fellow nursing student, colleague and patient and thought to myself ‘You’re so damn stupid’.
In some cases it is because what they have said is funny and has gotten me to laugh out loud at what has come out of their mouth. In other times, like many of us nursing students, we wonder how the person speaking, was not only allowed in college but also has managed to complete their degree. I tend to think this when I overhear a conversation and a person has stated they were diagnosed with some foreign and rare condition that has every letter but z in the name.
When asked how they found out and what did their doctor say, I cringe at hearing: “Oh no, I googled Google and found it like that”. As a fellow citizen and soon to be RN, step the fuck away from Google! Close that tab telling you have Hydrocephalus and go see a professional.
This is why doctors study for 10 plus years to have sufficient knowledge to be able to diagnosis and treat you with medications and surgical options. Us nurses study for 3 years at a constant speed to make sure the doctor doesn’t kill you in the process, where we administer the medication required for your simple and average disorder.
We don’t attend college because we like to rack up student debt, we consider it ‘fun and cool’ and want dress up as some slutty nurse for Halloween. No, we attend college to gain a better education past high school and where we can put the skills we have had strummed into our heads. We use the physical, social and psychological skills gained when trying to save your dumb arse life. We attend college to become better nurses so when we hold your hair as your vomit, tell you everything is going to be okay and we comfort your family members, we are doing our best.
I didn’t attend college to become a nurse for the pay check at the end of the week. Instead I attended college to become a nurse because I like people, I wish to help you and I want to have a job that fulfills my life, needs and requirements.
I didn’t attend college to deal with morons who self-diagnose themselves via Google and some cocked up bullshit written by a 14 year old, with no medical degree or knowledge.
There will be times where I pay attention to people who come from all walks of life, whether they come from a lower socioeconomic status of poverty and days of counting money. To dealings with patients who have more money than sense in some cases and think everyone needs to bend to their wills.
We are there to gain an education, to work as individuals with patients, a pay check and prove to ourselves this is the job for us. In my case, I prove to myself on a daily basis I was sent into nursing for a reason and the profession I have picked for the rest of my life is going to allow me to succeed. This of course ties into lesson number six.
As I stood in that particular pot hole, feeling water drenching my socks and shoes as I wiped the mud and water from my face; I’d originally been then to prove a point. The point I felt like I needed to prove to the people I was living with in Redneck county was I am smart like they were.
I wasn’t the dumb student who skipped most days at school, unless it had music and modern history because I was stupid and couldn’t pass high school. It stemmed from the reason I was incredibly bored with what subjects were offered, I wasn’t into being a farm hand nor some woman who wanted to grow and harvest crops.
Also, I wanted to prove I wouldn’t be the ‘unemployed’ name under my name in the ‘where is the class of 2007’. In my mind as I travelled between two jobs I held while studying full time at tafe as I dreamt of escaping, I don’t think I was unemployed.
Where some many years later, I have realised I no longer have to prove myself as a person and as a fellow student. I no longer have to prove the reasons as to why I shouldn’t be bullied or have my face pushed into toilet water, simply for the fact I was a ‘city bitch’. A city bitch who had qualms to gain means in life, to not spread her legs for a position at work or for a formal partner. I also certainly didn’t need to follow in other’s footsteps to have a boyfriend, just so I could prove someone found me sexually attractive or even like able.
I’ve realised I no longer have to prove to my Grandparents that I am worthy of being loved for who I am and not what I can bring into their lives. I no longer have to prove to my cousins that I need to be some type of national service to gain money, a job and sometimes an escape route. As much as I appreciate my blood family, my family that I’ve created is filled with wonderful and extremely talented people.
People who do not want something I cannot provide or pull out of my arse. For all they are interested in is who I am as a person and what I already have. They do not expect me to go to the edge of the world, rob a bank or steal something stupid because they love me for who I am.After three years of seriously hard thinking as to what I want in life and many episodes of arsehole Karev and his words of arsehole wisdom, my sixth lesson was ‘it doesn’t matter what the rest of you think. At the end of the day, all that matters is what I think’.
I have came to accept the fact I was the one who enrolled into college, selected my choices of college and essentially, I am the one who has to finish this journey. It is my mistakes, doings and goings that at the end of the day, make me realise all that matters is what I think.
What I think about my life, college process, GPA and where I want to go in life.
This of course ties in with lesson number seven.
To my family, my amazing friends and to my nurses squad filled with incredible women; thank you for all that you have done within the last three and a half years. To my family, I love you so much. I am so thankful to have each and every one of you in my life and will continue to feel amazed at what you bring to the table, what you share with me and how you inspire me.
Lesson number eight Grey’s has taught me, along with many other student is to question as to whether or not, ‘We are gonna survive this, right?’. I have found myself asking this question every time I step onto a ward and I see chaos.Not your average chaos of a few things out of place and with one or two nurses looking a little frazzled around the edges. No, I am talking about the time you have just left the safety of the nurses staffroom, you glance around the ward and you see nurses running, alarms are going off and patient’s are standing at the nurse’s station, looking stressed.
Anything and everything your mind can think of that can go wrong on a ward, goes wrong. You experience patients who have a faulty line which causes the pump machine to scream, beep and holler uncontrollably. You also have the patient who asks constantly, “can I go for a smoke?” although the doctor has just told them to stop smoking.
My particularly favourite are patients who take flirting to a whole new level and within 2 minutes, you feel like you need to take a restraining order out against them. Or you have the patient who is talking one minute and completely flat lines the next. Where you spend the next twenty minutes performing CPR after calling a code blue and they come back, gasping.
So when it comes time to performing handover as that clock ticks away the remaining 20 minutes of your shift, you collapse into your driver’s seat and brace your hands on the steering wheel. You, my friend, have just survived a punk arse, motherfucker shift and you can now look forward to waking up tomorrow morning and coming back for another ‘Who Dares Wins’ scenario.
Lesson number eight is to have a person.