Nurses in Training
As mentioned on the “About” page of this blog, I taught nursing a long time ago. I began teaching in 1978 which was when nurses wore white uniforms, hose, shoes and cap. The cap was symbolic of the nursing school from which one graduated. Mine was modestly winged with a black stripe indicating I was an alum of The Kentucky Baptist School of Nursing.
Teaching men and women who aspired to become a nurse was both daunting and rewarding. When the students were brand new they learned mundane tasks in the lab such as proper hand washing and sterile technique. In the classroom they learned subjects like pharmacology and anatomy.
The most challenging days were when the students were taken into the clinical area for real hands-on hospital experience. I went in before 6 a.m. to review charts and choose one or more patients for each student to care for from 7 until 11 o’clock. They would bathe, treat and monitor the patient and document everything in the nurse’s notes and on various graphs and forms in the chart. Meanwhile, as their teacher, I was running from room to room to instruct, supervise and observe their performances.
Following the hectic morning of caring for patients we would meet together for post conference. During this time each student presented their case(s) for the day. One by one they would state their patient’s diagnosis, age and other demographics, medications administered, tests and lab results and treatments rendered. It was an important part of the clinical experience, because the students were able to demonstrate what they had learned and answer questions from the group. It was, also, a way for each student to learn information from 10-12 different cases.
I will never forget some of the things I learned here, especially during the years I taught Pediatrics, since it was not the field of nursing in which I was most experienced. During post conference, students might share good news about blood work indicating a child’s recovery from leukemia, the troubling account of a toddler intentionally burned by one of its parents, maybe assisting with a spinal tap or accompanying an infant for X-rays.
One hot summer day we were gathered in a conference room while I listened dutifully to each student and added or corrected information as they presented their cases. One student went into great detail describing her little boy’s injuries which consisted of many lacerations and a fracture of the lower left extremity requiring surgery. She explained how the child was brought in by ambulance from his home in the country. She was dismayed at how, though he was only 10 years old, his parents let him handle many farm chores. She explained while accompanying his father in the field, he had been savagely injured by a wild animal. She had everyone’s attention and was clearly becoming excited as she continued to talk about the attack.
I sat speechless, a rare condition for me, but I could not make myself interrupt her animated presentation. She went on and on until finally one of her classmates asked the question everyone wanted to know: “What kind of animal was it”? To which she breathlessly responded it was, “A bush hog!”