( Sharing my memories from my nursing career. You can find all the posts here)
Did you think I would never get back to this series? Let's continue with my nursing education!
We were finally at the end of the first semester of the 'actual' nursing program. We have started doing nursing things. Passing pills, giving shots, inserting catheters and nasal gastric tubes. The 'get down and dirty' things of nursing. First we had to practice these things in the clinical labs at school. They had beds set up which we learned the 'famed nursing square corners' of bed making. We practiced giving each other a bed bath. How to peel off the clothes to maintain the patient's dignity and wash the body parts all the while maintaining the wash basin full of warm water. We were taught how to take out one arm, wash it, rinse it, dry it and tuck it back under the bath blanket. And then move all to the other extremities. We had to pay special attention to arm pits, because even patients who do nothing but lie in bed all day sweat.
One of the mantras we learned while in nursing school (and we learned a few) was to wash up from the waist, as far as possible, wash down from the thighs, as far as possible, and then suds up the wash cloth and hand it to the patient and tell them to wash "possible". If they were able. And if they weren't capable, then we got to wash possible. This could be the making/breaking point for the really young girls.
My favorite nursing skills were inserting catheters, nasal-gastric tubes and IV's. And I was good at it. Often times I would get calls from other nurses to come and preform this chore for them on a difficult patient. But I wasn't always good. It took practice.
When we were learning how to insert a urinary catheter into a female patient, we were told that the catheter would sometimes coil into the vagina and then we would have to start the procedure over with a new, sterile catheter kit. I couldn't imagine how this could happen. And I voiced my opinion in class. I wasn't afraid of voicing my opinion.(Then or now) When I got my first chance to insert a catheter into a female patient I was excited to finally put my practice to work. I had the room set up, the patient properly positioned and draped, and was ready to go. My instructor was on one side of the bed and I on the other. Yep, you guessed it....first attempt and the catheter coiled into the vagina. I looked into the eyes of my instructor who wisely smiled and said "I'll get you another catheter."
I had already graduated nursing school and was working as an RN before I got my first chance to insert a nasal gastric tube. The patient was a "nearly comatose" elderly, Spanish lady. My brand new LPN co-worker assisted with the procedure by reading me the instructions as I attempted to insert the tube. Was I ever glad the patient wasn't awake. She probably wouldn't have had much confidence in me as her nurse. But, we were successful!
I hate needles! Especially if they are aimed my way. I can't stand to have blood drawn. It hurts like hell! And when having an IV started I always insist on the best nurse start mine. I don't have good veins. And I'm a big whiny baby. But I loved giving shots and starting IV's. And I prided myself on being good at it. You don't have to cause an excessive amount of pain with either procedure. Be quick, be gentle, and get it over with.
Next up we will talk about the last year of nursing education.