It's that time of year again. We're getting three days a week of nursing students. Some are experienced, some are not. Some are sure of their vocation, some are not. Some look like they're going to vomit on my shoes, some...wait. They all look like they're going to vomit. Or pass out.
Nursing students, take heart: that nauseated, faint feeling does not last past the second year of nursing. At least, not consistently.
I love nursing students. The longer I'm out of school, the more I love them. I love that they're willing to put up with two to four years of unmitigated hell in order to enter a profession that is, mostly, rarely-mitigated hell.
I love that they think they know nothing, when in reality, they know quite a lot. The students who overcome their terror long enough to open their mouths always end up asking some interesting, baffling questions. The ones who advance theories are more often right than wrong, and even the wrong theories are logical.
I love how hard they work. With one exception in five years, every class of students we've had has kicked ass on the floor. They come early and stay late, even after a night of doing care plans. Nothing is too dirty, too boring, or not-nursey enough for them to do. They know their theoretical stuff backwards and pick up on the real-world stuff fast.
I love how they keep me on my toes. When I have two or three (or more; word's gotten around) students following me, I am extra-careful to explain everything, both to them and to the patient. I triple-check rather than just double-checking. I wash my hands longer.
I love that they're enthusiastic. We have very few nurses working at Big Bob's Brain Barn that don't love what they do, but we do have a few. Working with them is poison to the soul. Working with a nursing student is the antidote: everything is new and fun and exciting.
I love that they make me see the patients in a whole new way. You get so used to people who've had horrible disfiguring things happen that you often don't think of how little things could make their lives harder or easier. Case in point: One of my patients last week was a dwarf (not horrible or disfiguring, but wait...). I hadn't thought of how, without a step-stool, the guy couldn't adjust the shower head to hit him and would therefore be bathing in backsplash. The nursing student shadowing me picked up on that right away and fixed the problem before it became a problem.
I love how they make me see the profession in a new light. Some nurses get ground down and start referring to themselves as waiters. The students I encounter are more often than not active in student nurse associations, volunteer work, and political stuff. They see the profession of nursing as not just a service profession, but also as a scientific and activist calling. I am heartened and impressed by how much thought they've put into their choice of careers.
Thanks, guys. You can round with me any time.
PS: Don't steal my pen.