Sometimes You Feel Like A Nurse!

Like now, for example! 🙂 (Especially when I make my first attempt this week at working three 12s in a row…egads!)

Capstone is in full swing and I am loving every second of it! This is DEFINITELY the kind of nursing I want to do when I graduate.

My preceptor is giving me a lot of independence. As soon as she feels comfortable about me learning a skill, she turns me loose. This has been both affirming and terrifying. At this point, she’s having me be completely responsible for 1 of our 3 patients (except for hanging chemo and blood products, which students are not allowed to do). That means assessments, charting, med administration, IV management, ADLs (activities of daily living), education, etc. The only thing I haven’t started doing is charting care plans and patient education because that’s a little more involved.

Being a student does have its drawbacks. I think it makes some people more nervous than it did on Med-Surg. After all, these are really sick kids. My patient who asked me if I knew what I was doing didn’t seem to like me much or have much confidence in me. Not that I blame her.

My patient last Tuesday was an adorable little boy with an active imagination. This was his second relapse after two rounds of bone marrow transplants. He had just finished chemo and was in the hospital for “count recovery”.  Basically we are doing everything in our power to strengthen his immune system and get his counts back up – white blood cell count, red blood cell count, platelets, hemoglobin, hematocrit, etc. – basically everything that goes in the toilet with cancer and usually gets worse with chemo.

After his counts stabilize, they’ll do a bone marrow aspiration. If it’s clear of blasts (immature cells indicating cancer), they’ll try another transplant. If it shows that he’s still not in remission, they’re pretty much out of options. 🙁

Which brings me to the blessing and the heartbreak of peds oncology nursing. My preceptor told me that many of the patients I care for will probably die in the end. A lot of people wonder why I would want to subject myself to that kind of suffering, especially with kids. I’ve already addressed this previously, but let me just say this…

Despite the sadness, these kids are still kids and they still bring so much joy and laughter and youth to the lives of the people they touch. From a selfish perspective, my life has been enriched by knowing them. And if I can be there and give them as much life and energy as possible for as long as possible, and then hold their hands when they suffer, then I’ve been able to give a little something back for all that they’ve given me.

Plus, in the spirit of family nursing, their parents and siblings and friends and relatives need and deserve the best support we can provide. Last week I waited in the hallway with a little girl who wasn’t allowed on the unit (no one under 12 can visit because of the H1N1 scare). So we stood at the window of the play room and waved at her baby brother on the other side. He was SOOOOOO happy to see his big sister.

That’s why I love my job.

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