Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No More Rose-Colored Glasses

   I hate to use my blog as a "here's what I did in nursing school today" chronicle, but my clinical instructor told us to do a "reflection journal" and since it's my blog I guess I can do whatever I want with it. Plus, I'd like to remember how young, inexperienced and stupid I was at the beginning so I can look back and see how far I have gone/will go. And there are some hilarious nuggets that have happened which I'd also like to remember.

   So, today was my second clinical day. I like to refer to it as the first "official" day, because the real first clinical was just a light orientation of the facility we are in this semester. Today we actually got to work with patients and boy, was it eye-opening! The facility, Greenspring Village, is basically a community for seniors of all health statuses. There are folks who live independently in little apartments, people who have somehow been injured are in "rehab" (to get back to independent living, the closest to a hospital scenario) and there are the long term care people (those who cannot live alone and require 24 hour care). 

   For the first 8 weeks of this semester, my group will be on the long term care floor. Basically all of these patients are living here because they need round-the-clock supervision. It seems like a decent place to live. Being in a place like this opens up a whole Pandoras-box of discussion, like how or why families put a loved one in a place like this. According to my instructor, Greenspring is actually one of the nicest senior care places in the area, and your wallet definitely takes an impact by being a resident. Supposedly, they don't accept Medicare and your net worth has to be at least $500,000. The residents are well educated, and many had government careers (Senator, House Rep, military). In some cases, I'd rather just live at home with a home-care nurse, but it just boils down to having money to pay. The residents seem happy enough to do group aerobics, bingo and watch movies. There's kinda a "pecking order" with the residents as well. The folks who are the most mobile or vocal tend to be highest on the chain, while those who don't talk much or bed ridden are lowest. In fact, one of my patients "Bob" (not his real name) is one of those on the "low" end of the chain. He likes to ambulate (move around) in his wheelchair and tends to bump into others accidentally, and I think he's pretty adorable. Those "noisy birds" don't like that and kinda pick on him a little. Ah, social order at the age of 80. I was pretty stoked to be working with seniors. Being with them reminds me of the years I lived in Alaska and the people that I got to drive around. After age 65, people tend to lose their inner monologue and it's the older people who tell the dirtiest jokes and politically incorrect or racist stories. Entertainment at it's finest. :)

   Since we student nurses have no idea what we are doing, we were paired up with a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant). CNAs are below the LPNs, and do most of the grunt work at Greenspring. We went around with them and helped get the patients out of bed, washed their faces and upper body, dressed them and got them to breakfast. Once out of bed, we changed linens and tidied up. Most of the patients were cooperative and friendly, maybe a little too friendly. The CNA warned me of this one male patient who apparently really likes the ladies. I didn't think anything of it, until as I was putting on his shirt, he reached around and grabbed my butt! "You're getting fresh with me!" I exclaimed and pretended to be offended. He just laughed, haha. Some don't like the routine at all. One of the male patients actually punched a CNA! There's a female patient who hates men and will only allow females in her room. So it can be quite dramatic!

   The rest of the day went as smooth as can be expected. Nothing else super exciting happened. It was definitely hard work though! CNAs are usually assigned to 6-8 patients, and in the span of only about 2 hours they have to get 8 people out of bed, cleaned, dressed and make the beds. It is important to learn the basics and working with CNAs gave me an appreciation of all the hard work they do. And even though the work is laborious, at the end of the shift I just felt this overwhelming satisfaction about what I had done to help others. I just knew that this place was exactly where I needed to be and that my life is on the right track. Even when I'm changing the adult briefs or cleaning up stool.....when it comes down to it, it's all about helping people and I LOVE THAT.



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