The first few weeks of nursing lulled me to sleep. For a minute there I was worried I'd stepped into a time warp and was back in nursing school. My fellow nursing babes and I spent the large part of the day reviewing procedures, hospital protocols and policies, hypothetical situations that could but probably won't happen, magnet designation, computer software training, documentation, safety concerns, codes blue, red and grey, medication distribution and narcotics wasting, pressure ulcers, hand sanitation, isolation precautions, blood draws, IV insertion, EKG strips, and the list goes on, and on. Nap time!
Once we stepped onto the floor and rolled up our sleeves, it still hadn't felt like the beginning of a career. I continue to walk in to each of my patient's rooms with a clueless I-think-I-know-what-I'm-doing-but-don't-judge-me-if-I-don't look on my face, and something tells me it'll be a while before that changes. Of course, it's always fun to banter with patients regarding whether I'm qualified to be there because I don't look old enough to be a licensed nurse, I'm quite surprised no one has asked me for a copy of my transcript or license. I assure them I'm not fifteen, they believe me, and they let me proceed.
The beauty of medicine is that there is never a dull moment, there is always something to do, and the patients are more educational than any chapter of a text book. They have complex health issues that make their needs individualized, they have lives and situations and families that make planning their care sometimes easier, more challenging, and at times, disturbing. They can communicate with us without a word. One patient continues to remove his trach, each time requiring the immediate attention of respiratory therapists, shaking his head at every intervention, the more more more we keep providing - it's not what he wants. Another patient with diabetes insipidus, unable to speak, clings to his empty orange juice glass, overwhelmed by thirst. One is a survival mechanism, and one is surrender.
I still don't feel like a nurse, I feel like a baby, somedays I walk, some days I crawl. Some days I sit in awe of my preceptor who has a swift, graceful ease to her completion of tasks. She knows the ins and outs of each patient, each med, and she smiles most of the time. The energy of the hospital I am in now, is such a stark contrast to the previous I'd worked as a student. I suppose it's kind of like drinking good coffee or eating good cheese, once your palate has adapted to the good stuff, there's really no going back, hard as you may try.