Nursing graduates share significant clinical experiences
"The following exemplars offer a peek into the moments of life as a nursing student that shape and help inform who they become as professional nurses. The exemplar writing assignment is to "describe a significant moment in practice where the student had an impact on the patient or the patient had an impact on the student." One of the prompts is to "write about a time when you knew you had become a nurse". These stories from practice describe pain and pain relief, fear and courage, despair and hope and the search for health that defines the journey of all nurses and patients. The faculty of the Cedar Crest College Nursing Department are so proud of our students and all that they do in the name of healing. We hope you enjoy their stories."
~Professor Amy Edgar
These are the stories written by the July 2013 nursing graduates.
*please note that the names of all patients have been changed for confidentiality.
It was a beautiful early spring morning when I drove to a local hospital. This was a moment I had been eagerly looking forward to throughout my clinical nursing rotation- the Mother Baby Unit. Approaching the unit, I had a variety of emotions filling my head and my heart. I have not had any children, and I had no idea what to expect on this floor. In addition, becoming a delivery nurse was always my dream career. Now I had the opportunity to observe a delivery maternity nurse in action.
While waiting eagerly for my instructor to give me my nursing assignment for the day, I became impatient. After I was told the name of my assigned nurse, I looked up at the large white assignment board, searching for my assignment. I began to perspire when I realized we were scheduled for an 8:30 AM C-section. My nurse came whipping around the corner and said, “OK, are you with me for the day?-follow me.” As a student nurse, I began to ponder what role I would fill during this c-section. I can now identify my care that day From Novice to Expert, Benner’s (1984) book, as the helping role of the nurse and the teaching-coaching function. As a student nurse, I have experienced these roles many times in a completely different atmosphere and with different patients.
We entered the triage area in the rear of the unit. There was a very pregnant woman calmly sitting in a chair. At this moment I thought to myself, “get it together, you are not having this baby and you are way more nervous than this mom that is about to give birth.” I sat on a chair next to her, introduced myself, and told her I was a college student. We began talking more in-depth, and the mother expressed her happiness to meet her first daughter. She informed me that she had two boys, ages four and seven. She then continued to tell me that she was not a scheduled c-section. When her water broke, she frantically called her parents to bring her to the hospital. Her parents phoned her husband, who worked in Philadelphia and was detained in the commuter AM traffic on his way to the hospital. As the nurses continued to prepare her, she expressed her worry and that her husband might not make it in time for the birth of their baby girl. “I just really hope he can get here, Mom, can you call again and see where he is?” Her mother replied, “Hunnie, I just called him five minutes ago. I do not want him to worry while he is driving.” The pregnant woman proceeded to ask me about my career after I finished nursing school. I replied, “Being a delivery maternity nurse is my dream job.” She had this immediate look of calmness. I watched her body language as she appeared to relax. I tried to occupy her while we were waiting for the c-section room to be prepared. Silently I was praying in my head, “please let her husband make it.”
The RN entered the room, “Alright, let’s go have this baby!” Just as the RN said this, the dad came bolting into the room. “I’m here, I made it, Dear!” Her face showed pure happiness. You could tell she was now ready to have this baby. We all gathered our belongings and scattered around the room. The grandparents waited in the waiting room, the RN pushed the mother past the nursery, and the father and I proceeded behind them. For a second, I had to remind myself, “no Kim, this is not Grey’s Anatomy, this is real life!”
While we were waiting for the room to be readied for the delivery, the nurse explained to me how to “scrub in,” and put me in charge of helping the baby’s father scrub in as well. This was when I entered Benner’s, The Helping Role domain, competency “Providing Emotional and Informational Support to Patients and Families.” We approached the two big solid white doors. As the doors opened, the husband and wife shared one last kiss and a “good luck.” The father and I were told to wait outside the doors until we were invited to scrub in. The husband was pacing the hallway as he said, “These two minutes are the longest two minutes of my life.” While feeling the same way, I explained, “As soon as we get in these doors, we will scrub in and you will be able to be with your wife!” He looked at me and said, “I’m ready!” The big white doors opened, and the RN called us in. She looked at me and said, “You know what to do.”
I briskly grabbed a cap, full gown, mask, and sterile gloves for the both of us. After I was halfway dressed I noticed that the father had his gown on backwards. I helped him put the gown on correctly and knocked on the door to gain entrance into the room. We entered, and everyone took their places! The mother was lying on the table and calling for her husband. They both looked frightened. I took the bedside position, as the husband took a seat behind the mother’s head. I thought to myself, “this is my time to shine; this is my time to help and do whatever I can for my patient to make this the best possible experience.” Benner’s teaching-coaching function, competency “readiness to learn”, came into play when I was reminding the mother to concentrate on her breathing and copy me, just like in Lamaze class. While I was trying to distract her, she said, “I am going to get sick.” I grabbed the bucket that was next to me and held it while she proceeded to vomit. Meanwhile, I was wondering if this was a normal reaction during a c-section.
In no more than three minutes from the first cut of the lower abdomen, we heard a very loud piercing cry. “She is here!” I said. It just came out of my mouth, the excitement I felt for this couple. As the fatigued mother then began to cry, the father grabbed the wrapped baby and put her on the nurse’s table. The nurse did her initial assessments, at 9:26 AM their beautiful baby girl was born. Within fifteen minutes, the entire delivery was over. It was only fifteen minutes from the time the big doors opened until they reopened to bring the mother to the recovery room. The father and I removed our scrubs. Both of us were drenched in perspiration from head to toe. He proceeded to say, “Thank you, thank you for being there for my wife until I could arrive. Even through her delivery, you sat by her until the very end.” I felt honored, and replied, “No, thank you for this wonderful experience; you have a beautiful baby girl.” I felt like now was an appropriate time to tell him I was a student and this was my first day on the unit, and my first delivery experience! He said, “You sure fooled me. You were calmer than me, and this was my third time through this!”
That was the day that it all became real to me. I finally participated in a delivery. That solidified that this was indeed the career I wanted after I finished nursing school. As I left the unit that day, I was anxious to think about the next time I would be back on the unit, and what another day would have in store for me. There was no better feeling than being able to help and coach an individual through one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of her life, the birth of a child. As I was leaving the hospital, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a delivery nurse!