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Summer Exemplar

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.

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Donna Gaumer

A past clinical experience that I deem to be significant was that of helping a laboring mother bring her baby into the world. The experience took place on the labor and delivery unit of a hospital. I was about midway through the Mom/Baby class and clinicals in the summer of 2012, and I was finally going to have my chance to witness a live child birth. This day was my scheduled day to be on the labor and delivery unit; however, I was not yet certain that I would get to see a birth. There were many contributing factors to this, including availability of patients ready to deliver during the time of my clinical, and acceptance of the delivering mother to having nursing students present during the birthing process. I was anxious and nervous to see what the day would bring.

The mother whom I was assigned to was very agreeable to having me there, which made me both at ease and excited. When I first met the laboring mother, she was already in the delivery room, contractions approximately five minutes apart, husband at her side, and the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) was also there preparing for the birth. The mother was very open to talking about the birthing process, as well as herself and her family. Being a teacher herself, she understood the importance of education and actually thanked me for being there. She informed me that this was her second child, and that with the first one she had received an epidural for the birth. This time, however, she wanted to do it naturally, and was quite scared. The contractions, as she stated, were getting more and more painful, and she was beginning to doubt her ability to withstand the pain. I jumped in immediately, telling her how brave I thought she was, and what a wonderful thing it was that she was doing. While we were talking, the CNM interjected that it was time to start pushing, and told me to grab a hold of one of the mother’s legs and foot and push it up towards her as she was bearing down and pushing. I was beyond excited! This was it, the baby was coming and I had the privilege of taking an active part in the delivery! Each time the mother was pushing, she yelled out in pain. The CNM was asking her to try not to yell so loud. I had a hard time reconciling this. My patient was giving birth without the aid of any medication. I told the mother if she felt like she needed to yell, go ahead and yell! My concern was for the mother and her pain. I helped to focus her attention on her breathing and away from her husband, who was trying to deal with his stress by making jokes. I am not sure exactly how long the labor lasted; the mother only had to push six or seven times and out came this beautiful baby boy. The mother and father were so happy, they were crying, I was almost crying! They asked if I would take pictures of them holding the baby. I was shaking so badly from the adrenaline and emotion of it all, I could barely hold the camera.

I honestly felt like I played an important and positive role in that mother’s birthing experience. The CNM was trying to quiet the mother and the husband was teasing his wife, in what he thought was a playful manner, for yelling out in pain. These things were contributing to making the mother focus more on her pain and discomfort than on the task at hand. Through my coaching and distracting, I believe that I helped the mother to have a better birthing experience.

I utilized Benner’s domain of the Helping Role by establishing a healing relationship with the patient and mobilizing hope by reassuring her that even though she was in a lot of pain and scared, that she was brave and could absolutely get through this (Benner, 1984). I also utilized the domain of the Teaching-Coaching Function by explaining to the patient what was happening during each stage of the delivery and by coaching her through her breathing and answering any questions that she had truthfully (Benner, 1984).