Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Better Today Because of You

There is one day in particular that I will never forget during my med/surg clinical rotation in nursing school. I had an instructor that I did not like at all. Actually, come to think of it, not many of the students liked her. She was arogant, and pretty much talked down to all of us. We all decided that since we had her first year they must be trying to break us down in the beginning so they could build us up in the end. Kinda like the military, I would think.

On this particular day, she had handed out our assignments. There were 8 of us and she was going to watch all 8 of us administer medications that day, like she did every clinical day. She told me I could go last because I had the most medications to give. The patient I was assigned to had over 16 medications to give that morning.

I promptly went to get his med book and started writing down all the medications I was to give. I looked them all up and wrote as much as I could on my little paper. I knew that she was going to ask me questions about ALL of them, and I tried to anticipate what the questions would be. She was one that would pick the most unusual things to ask. It was like she was trying to pick something to ask that she would know you would not have written on your paper.

All the other students were running behind and she came to me 2 or 3 times asking if I was ready. I just told her no and reminded her she told me I could go last. Then on the 4th try, she finally said, "Let's just do it, no one else seems to have their act together today!" I again reminded her that I was not finished writing everything. She then replied with, "well, I guess we will see how ready you are." So instead of arguing with her, I just gave in. I knew it wouldn't make a difference and she was already mad because of the other students.

We went into the patients room, and she had me set the med book on the window sill. I laid each med out beside it's name in the book, that is like she liked us to do it. Then one by one I did the checks, reading the name and doage of the med from the book then again from the med packaging. She would proceed with questions like:
1. What is this used for? 2. What are the side effects? 3. Will it interact with anything else they are taking? 4. What labs need to be followed while on this medication? There were other quesitons but this was the basics she asked on almost all the meds.

Now, remember that she didn't give me the time she had promised and I had already told her I wasn't done looking everything up. So, for the first few meds I was doing great. I answered 100%. Then all of the sudden she asked me about the med Cozaar. I told her that was one that I didn't get looked up. She then again asked me what was it for. I had not given this med before, and remember we were first year students, so they were not ALL etched in my brain just yet. I proceeded to tell her, "I think it is for high blood pressure." Her reply, "You THINK? You mean you don't know?" Again I reminded her that I didn't have time to get them all looked up and that was one that was not looked up. She then looked at me with horrible anger and said, "I guess you are right, your not any more ready than the rest of them. I will be back to finish with you and you better be ready."

All of the above interaction happened IN the patient's room. I was so embarassed. She walked out and I told the patient I was sorry and I would be back in a few minutes with the instructor. I gathered my things and rushed out of the room and looked up the rest of the meds as quickly as I could. I still had 4 left to look up and I hadn't been able to look up the lab results from that morning yet because all of the staff nurses were on the computers.

It wasn't 5 minutes before she was back. I had the med written down but not the labs. I wasn't about to tell her, I just prayed she wouldn't ask. We went through the same steps as before. When we got to Cozaar, I knew for SURE it was for high blood pressure. I was angry because I was right before, and she wouldn't take the answer. She was angry because none of the other students had been ready and when she got to me I wasn't ready either. Then the dreaded question came. I had to give the patient potassium. She wanted to know what his potassium level was that morning. I know I must have had a defeated look on my face because that is certainly how I was feeling. All I could do was look at her and say, "I don't know." I tried to explain that I was not able to get on the computers to check lab results because the staff nurses were on all of them. At that moment she picked up the med cup that had all the unopened meds in it and threw them up in the air. She then proceeded to walk out of the room. When she got to the door she turned around long enough to tell me "Let me know when think you are ready!", and then she was gone.

There I was, standing in a patients room, again, after being yelled at. Except now his medications were all over the floor. I apologized again to that patient, quickly picked up the meds and left the room. I went to the bathroom and cried. I was so angry and my feelings were hurt and I was humiliated!! I wanted to run!!

My instructor did come back, I did give my meds and care for my patient that day and I survived! At the end of that particular day, my patient actually apologized to ME. I told him it was ok, it was not his fault, and I apologized to him for having to be witness to my learning experience. He was very sweet and understanding. I think he realized how terrible my instructor had acted and I think he kind of felt sorry for me. That was the longest semester ever!! And I know that I am a better nurse today because of it.

At then end of my last semester, while we were planning for the pinning ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to that instructor again. Until that moment I had done everything in my power to stay as far away from her as possible. And when the moment came, and I had all the courage I could muster up, I said these words to her,
"I didn't really like you during our first semester. I thought you were too hard on people. There were moments of humilation during that clinical rotation with you. And what I learned is that I will be a better nurse because of the instructors who treated their students like we didn't know anything. I will be a better nurse in spite of those moments of humilation. I will also have mercy on the students who come after me, that I will someday be a mentor to. So, thank you, for teaching me mercy, and making me stronger in myself." I didn't really give her a chance to say anything in response. I walked away, with my head high and shoulders back, ready to graduate and take on that nursing world that came many times be cruel and nonmerciful.

I hold on to this experience so I will not forget what kind of nurse I strive to be. How I treat my paitents, how I treat the new students who come to do clinicals where I work, and the new grads that we train.

I have compassion, and mercy and tolerance. Nursing school was a hard time, a time that could have easily broken my spirit. I conquered it!!! My spirit soars today, knowing that I am a great nurse and I truly care. This is not my job, this is my ministry!



  1. I found your blog through another, I hope it's ok if I follow you!

    I am praying for you sweetie!!!!!

    Lots of love, hugs and prayers-

  2. You go girl! I am so glad I didn't have a teacher like that! That was the most awesome ending ever at graduation.