My first day of clinicals.
Every nurse has them. I am sure many of you would like to say it was the best day of your nursing career. It was the day that the heavens parted and angels sang and you knew “nursing” was your calling. Does that sound right?
Ok, let’s be serious here. The best day of your nursing career? Come on let’s be honest with each other, let’s warn the newbies in fundamentals, you and I both know it wasn’t as picture perfect as we thought it would be. Picture this, a brand spanking new nurse in pressed and ironed white or blue scrubs, colors may vary (may I add these are not any scrubs-they are the scrubs that any seasoned nurse or healthcare provider can spot miles away-some may call them prison orange jumpsuits-but we know them as our nursing school “uniforms”). With brand new clogs so white that it can blind anyone within a 10 foot radius.
Newbies, babies, young one, new grad, I’m sure there are many other um….names…we have for them. We have all seen them, worked with them, ran screaming away from them, helped them, dried a tear or two, hid from them, praised them and most importantly at one point in our career been them (or will be them). Let’s be honest-that dreaded first day is absolutely terrifying, it’s pee in your pants, hide under a blanket with a night light type of scary.
My first day was at a nursing home in Tennessee (may God bless the souls of anyone who has been “lucky” enough to experience having a newbie). For some reason it seems that many “newbies” get lucky to have their first “nursing clinical” experience as a retirement home. I drove with 4 (or was it 5 I don’t remember) of my other nursing friends, sardines in white scrubs-just providing a visual. When we arrived we were assigned various patients (one patient per student), just to be clear as a new nurse-we could only provide basic care. Which included changing diapers, feeding and changing more diapers (well that’s what it seemed like to me). Again to stress, that it we each had only one assigned patient-but nurses are team players-we have each others back (like Lucy and Ethel-old school I know)-even in the beginning. So I “teamed” up with 4 of my other nursing newbie buddies-we had a big job and needed all the help we could get. The job you ask? A diaper change on a tiny female, 80-90 something patient. She probably weighed under 100 lbs? I can’t be exact-she was small. Then why all the help if she was tiny? Because as a newbie we thrive in a teamwork setting, plus we were terrified. Braver in numbers right?
Changing this poor person’s diaper was an ordeal. Yes, we were taught back friendly maneuvers on how to move a patient. But hearing it and reading it is completely different then actually doing it. One of the newbies got on the bed behind the patient and the rest of us on either side to turn her, while making sure we did it safely. During the experience we got to learn how extensive her language and motor skills were…..Yes, from the 5 of us being called dogs and Clifford (yes, the big red dog) to being walloped with flailing arms-she made sure that we were aware that she did not think her diaper needed to be changed. Sigh…It was a very memorable experience for me as I am sure for the others too.
At the end of the day, I learned how effective teamwork can be, even though it took 5 newbie nurses to successfully change a diaper. 😉 For you newbies reading this, it does get better…. If you have any “first day” stories either as a floor nurse or nursing student please feel free to share them with me!