Saturday, November 8, 2008

back in the game

I have officially turned the corner, in more ways than one, with nursing school. This auspicious occasion is due mostly to the children I met this past weekend, some big ones, some little ones, and some really, really tiny ones. I'll call this my "Florence Nightingale" moment, which lasted the entire weekend.

Our first day of the weekend rotation, Friday, was spent meeting our clinical instructor for supervision.
While my first two supervisors were extremely nice and supportive, I can't tell you how happy I am to finally have an instructor who is truly an educator. Her lab coat even says, "Nursing Educator." We took a tour of the hospital, met some of the maternity nurses, and I left feeling excited about returning the next day. This is no small event for me; during my three rotations in adult med-surg, I often woke up not wanting to go to the hospital.

I was not disappointed on my first day. I was assigned to the NICU, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, mostly filled with children born prematurely. My nurse was a cheerful and helpful mentor the entire day. She loved her job and it showed! Each nurse in the NICU has two patients, and both of ours were in good shape when I met them. One was recovering well from surgery; her mother had not left her side in many days. They were hopeful about leaving in a few days, and mom had been preparing well for the transition home. The nurse had been teaching her how to take care of her baby, and she passed on her motherly wisdom to me.

Our other patient slept the entire day, which at first wasn't the greatest learning experience for me. Around 10am the mother showed up with "big sister," who was very excited to see her very little sister. They didn't speak much English, so I got to practice my Spanish most of the morning. Spending time with this five year old filled me with a joy that reminded me why I'm becoming a pediatric nurse. That was much needed medicine for this guy.

On Sunday I worked in the postpartum department, where moms and dads bring their fresh, new babies. I was assigned to another fabuloso nurse. Before we entered our first patient's room, she told me that she wasn't going to explain anything to me in front of the parents, and that I should act like I knew what I was doing. This was the exact opposite of my entire time in med-surgery; most days it felt like I was standing on the edge of the pool afraid to jump in. It really helped to have someone push me in! So five minutes later I've got my hands on this woman's stomach assessing the size of her fundus (uterus). Wow!

Our next mom and dad ended up both being school teachers, so I was able to really connect with them, which helped the macho nurse fit right in during the breastfeeding teaching. I later heard that other students (of the female variety) had actually done hands-on teaching of the art of breastfeeding. Not sure if that's in this male nurse's future, but we'll see. I was incredibly aware of being a man as I stood there next to the father, watching his wife breastfeed his new baby. We smiled at each other as his wife and son bonded in a way that he and I will never know.

This coming weekend I'll be working in labor & delivery. I'm hoping to see a vaginal birth, and hopefully catch the baby ;-)

But I'll be happy if I get to hold the flashlight.


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