Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nursing Students: A Love Letter

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.


girl_in_greenwood said...

Jo, thank you so much for posting this today. I had a sh*tty day at clinical today, with a bunch of cranky, student-rejecting nurses on the floor, and your post nearly made me cry with relief. I'm going to make it through school. I'm going to be a nurse, dang it.

Anonymous said...

Echoing the thanks for this post. I'm 4th semester, about to graduate, and things are rough. I question much every day. Please keep encouraging, and supporting us. We need it. Thank you thank you thank you.

Jo said...

GiG and Mel, hold on. Being a nurse is SO much better than being a nursing student, I can't even tell you. I promise.

GiG, did I ever tell you the story of the nurse who faked a kidney stone to get out of taking students? Fantastic example to set, there.

Melissa, things are horrible during your last two semesters. I lost tons of weight and hair and developed an ulcer. You'll live, though you might not want to. ;-)

Hold on, guys. It'll be over before you know it.

(((GiG and Melissa)))

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you've said! Can I sign this letter too? :)


Anonymous said...

I would also like to second the sentiment that being a nurse is MUCH better than being a nursing student. It's like finally being able to fly!

girl_in_greenwood said...

Holy crap, faking a kidney stone???? No, I have not heard that story. Wow.

Masked RN said...

It's good to feel appreciated.
Instructors are demanding.
Patients are needy.
Classmates are competitive.
Nurses are irritable.

Appreciate feels good right now as a student nurse.

Penny Mitchell said...

I love you to the point of stupidity.

That is all.

shrimplate said...

You can sort of take this funny saying and make it work for nurses: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend, but inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Same thing for nursing students, only they don't fit inside most dogs.

Did I really write that? Darn. It's been a long week.

Student Nurse said...

I'm a nursing student and you sound like an amazing preceptor to shadow and work with during a clinical/rotation day. I could count the preceptors I've had like you(b/c you sound like you make a great preceptor!)

minority midwife said...

Thank you. I'm almost crying. We worry about getting in y ou guy's way, it's so nice to hear you say all of that.

A Nursing Student

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this blog. It was very encouraging. And I definitely need more of that these days. And now here's an end to the "nurses' notes"... leahtan UBC SN. =)

Nickie said...

THANK YOU!!! This is so encouraging to hear! I'm slugging my way through to the end of the semester right now. I keep hearing that it will get better... it's nice to hear that from yet another person!

Thank you so much for your support to nursing students and being willing to work with them - it means more than you can imagine!

Anonymous said...

Jo, per usual, late to the party, but ever so thankful for your love the students and willingness to teach. I hope you keep that love with you through your years of nursing. It means more to the students than you will ever know.

Anonymous said...

Your post was sooo helpful. I still have quite a ways to go... Some days I wonder if I can make it...Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I'm about to graduate this semester and i was surprised about what you wrote on the 4th paragraph. "I love that they think they know nothing, when in reality, they know quite a lot."

That inspired me. =)

Anonymous said...

Hi.. Im a nursing student, this is my last semester, graduation is coming, and I really feel pressured, It’s because I don’t know if im going to graduate because of my nursing audit subject.. I know I can make it, thankyou for your wonderful work.., I love to read it and you really encourage me, hope to read more! Godbless!