Beyond Technique

Ladies and gentleman, I have survived advanced Med-Surg!  My final exam was this morning, followed an hour later by my simulation exam.  Quite a brain-busting day! And I have absolutely no desire to study for my Public Health final, which is the only thing standing between me and the end of the spring semester.

The simulation itself was the source of much anticipatory anxiety over the past few weeks.  Nightmares, insomnia, the whole nine.  My wound sim last semester didn’t go so well – I had a bear of a time hearing the blood pressure on the mannequin.  It doesn’t sound like real Korotkoff sounds, dammit!  So you can imagine my trepidation about assessing a “patient” in hypovolemic shock, a crisis situation that requires taking blood pressure not once, but twice (once to establish baseline, then again when the patient’s condition changes).

So I took a deep breath, walked into the room, and went to work. I will admit that when I did hear those blood pressure clicks, my brain sang the “Hallelujah” chorus.   Once I got over that hump, the weight lifted and I tried to forget that this was an exam.  There were a few minor assessment details I left out.  Pretty easy to forget measuring capillary refill on a piece of plastic.  I know I should have gone through the motions anyway, but hey, if that was the biggest issue, I’ll take it.  Give me human flesh and I’ll pinch that finger (and toe) ! 🙂

The best part, the part that pretty much made my semester, came at the end of the simulation, when the director of the sim lab and one of the nursing instructors walked in with big ol’ smiles on their faces.  “You can be my nurse any day,” said one. “Ditto,” said the other. “You’re hired!”

Technical skills will grow with time, and I need to cut myself some slack in that department.  I am still a student, after all.  But something that is more difficult to teach is rapport and confidence.  And it was very affirming to hear that even in a high-pressure situation, I could handle myself in a way that kept my patient calm.  It’s the art of nursing that goes hand-in-hand with the science.  And at the end of a very challenging semester, I feel validated in my artistic skills.

I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  Nursing is what I am called to do. Even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

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