By: Colton Profitt
Here’s the thing.
The common belief that “nursing students just don’t care,” which I myself have fallen victim to saying, can not be anything further from the truth. This letter will hopefully help shift your mindset to something more positive: maybe nursing students care too much.
In light of the recent UPEISU fall elections where no nursing student put their name forward to represent the Faculty of Nursing, there has been a lot of negative talk around campus targeted at nursing students’ lack of involvement. Do me a favor and follow along this story with me and reflect throughout.
It’s 5:30 am on a Monday when the alarm clock goes off. Up and at ‘em.
You pack up your freshly ironed scrubs (because it’s against policy if there is a wrinkle), your nice non-breathable white shoes that smell like death (maybe that’s just mine, not sure), stethoscope, med cards, 40lbs book your instructor wants you to bring, lunch… nope, you didn’t make lunch. Whatever, you’ve learned to like hospital food by now anyways.
Off you go to get to Summerside by 7 am; or Montague, Tignish, Charlotettown, Souris, wheverever they place you honestly. Once you get there you are assigned two post-surgery patients and one patient awaiting a long term care placement who thinks you are their high school prom date.
Assessments need to be done within your first hour of being on the floor, as well as the pre-op meds, your 8 o’clock meds, all while having one patient who needs to use the bathroom and diagnostic imaging calling and saying your patient is due down for a CT in fifteen minutes.
By the time you get it all done, you have missed your morning break and you still have a long list of things to do before going to lunch including a dressing change on a toe that doesn’t really look like a toe anymore.
That’s just the morning. The afternoon is full of the same activities and challenges but I will spare you the details.
But what if one of your patients dies during one of those crazy shifts? You watch them take their last breath, watch as their family grieves and asks you what happened. What do nursing students do in that case? This is the part that many non-nursing majors don’t know about.
Yes, people die while we are in clinical. Yes, sometimes we are there to see everything. Yes, students are still responsible to perform post-death cares on the body you once cared for while the person was living, breathing, and talking. Yes, it is hard, but that’s what we signed up for. Why? Because we care.
So after a long hard shift you get in your car and drive back home. You take off your scrubs that have God knows what on them, shower, and maybe get something to eat. Then you write the paper you have due the next day, memorize the 27 medications your assigned patients are on tomorrow that you need to know everything about, and turn on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy to pick out all of the Hollywood medical errors while having a damn good cry at the sad parts. Then you drift asleep until that alarm clock screams at you again to do it all over tomorrow morning.
Now you might think that story is far fetched but if you talk to an upper-year nursing student I would bet my last dollar that most of them can relate in some aspect. Why would someone go through all of this? Doesn’t that sound horrible? Yes, but we also get the chance to see people leave the hospital healthier than when they came in. We get to see new life being brought into this world, we get to see how the delicacy and precision art of surgery can heal someone. That makes it all worth it. In regards to the bad part, we do it because we care and the good makes the bad so worth it.
This isn’t a letter wanting you to feel bad about nursing students. It’s a letter trying to educate people on the care that nursing students provide to complete strangers day in and day out; while also having to care for their full time academics on top of clinical time. Maybe we are not the most involved faculty but maybe we just need to care for ourselves sometimes.
Maybe nursing students care too much.
Photo: UPEI Gallery
This article belongs to The Cadre’s opinion section. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cadre.