Is this normal for first week of clinicals?

  1. I posted this as a reply on another thread, but really, I have to ask you guys... Am I not gonna make this? Is this a normal FIRST DAY clinical experience?

    My first day of clinicals I was nervous as a CAT! I had NEVER been in a LTC facility, and was "partnered" with someone who had experience in one. I was book smart and hands on stupid. The day before actually seeing the patient (oops, client) I read in the chart she was prone to biting, hitting etc.

    Needless to say, my "partner" couldn't handle the client (patient) either and said "go get xxxxx" (our clinical supervisor). I hi-tailed it out of there, ran down the hall and asked for help. I was a marked woman from then on. I learned the difference between a true "emergency" (as in client falls on floor) and emergency in my mind (client is obstructive and you are terrified she will act out physically which is horrible being that you have NEVER changed a diaper on a woman twice your size and this one is violent and resisting getting any attention!).

    In any case, my clinical instructor was also my "mentor" and I NEVER got along. I walked out on an 4.0 average TERRIFIED to go back. She told me I looked "good on paper" ... was she trying to prove I was only good on paper by providing me with these patients, or am I just a whiner? In the 2 days I was in clinicals, I got the above patient who was a total care, twice my size, known for violence and with a colostomy. I got through the colostomy change and shower etc. (I swear I don't know how I held my stomach my first DAY I had this..) then right into a tube feed which I had never in my life even HEARD of someone existing like this... into a lady who hadn't been bowel efficient in days and just had decided to explode...

    Needless to say, I changed schools and have met with my new instructor and feel much more comfortable. In fact, I don't think I am gonna be the same student anymore... I don't need A's, I just need to learn --please instructors, teach me the clinicals without the terror of violence my first day (or the colostomy change, the tube feed... along with the other patient who had constipation and let loose on me... hours of oozing ... all in my first 2 days of clinicals!)

    So, guys, that drowning "help" dude in the corner is my mentality returning to nursing school after 2 years!

    Is it me? or is it every student who faces these horrors their first week!! I feel weak just thinking about what I had to face my first week 2 years ago. Tell me it ain't so! Tell me that I will get a learning experience that isn't so bad... or is it all the same and I can't handle it?

    PLEASE tell me I have seen the worst things and therefore I am stronger.......
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   delirium
    Yes it is and no it isn't.

    For the life of me I can't figure out why they start nursing students in LTC. Its dirty and depressing. You won't like it. I wondered if I truly wanted to be a nurse after I spent hours giving bedbaths, learning how to transfer patients mechanically, and just generally caring for people who were so obviously neglected.

    Hopefully you'll have a kinder and gentler experience (and a supportive instructor wouldn't hurt). I was so glad when those 6 weeks were over and we moved to the hospital. What a relief!
  4. by   ~FloridaCCRN~
    Welcome to the world of bootcamp...oops I mean nursing school:imbar :roll .

    Seriously though... there is always at least one instructor that is out to make your life miserable.
    The thing to do is keep a straight face :stone .....really though
    the worst thing you can do is let them know they're getting to you.
    Keep your head up, be strong, and you'll be fine
  5. by   caliotter3
    Keep your chin up Vsummer1!
    I have had similar experiences. My clinical instructor got me behind closed doors and ranted on and on about her decision to fail me in clinical. She went so far as to proudly expound on her position among the faculty as the one who deliberately set out to weed out certain students. She had a quota to fill and used her psych nurse background to pick out her victims. Very vindictive and unprofessional. There is more but I think you get the picture. In addition to this, the new head of the dept. threatened me over the phone. I went to the student grievance people and was told that even if I went to an attorney there was nothing I could do b/c these indiv could lie about their conduct and get away w/it. She was aware of pending lawsuits and did her best to dissuade me. She urged me to "play the game". Hard to do when you have family resp and employment probs as well. To make a long story short, it is almost 10 yrs later and I still am out money, time, and am trying to finish school in another manner. My only solace is remembering that they will have won if I NEVER finish.
    To assist you w/your confidence issues, I highly recommend that you attempt to get a PT position as a CNA in (of all places) a LTC facility. Even if you only work one shift on the weekend it will do wonders to get you feeling like you're not such a "stranger" to the clinical area. Good luck, and remember to keep plugging away! There are many of us who are behind you to offer encouragement.
  6. by   Vsummer1
    Originally posted by MsPurp
    I wondered if I truly wanted to be a nurse after I spent hours giving bedbaths, learning how to transfer patients mechanically, and just generally caring for people who were so obviously neglected.

    Hopefully you'll have a kinder and gentler experience (and a supportive instructor wouldn't hurt). I was so glad when those 6 weeks were over and we moved to the hospital. What a relief!
    If I could have spent my first hours giving bed baths I think that would have helped! No bed baths here... this patient needed the whole enchilada. Wake patient, change diaper, Transfer from bed to wheelchair, colostomy care, shower, (all the time the patient is fighting and twice my size) then on to breakfast... Meanwhile, when you found a moment to breath (after colostomy care it was gag) change the patients linens, then run back and hand feed her... which she would not eat and every time I tried she threatened to bite... I had no clue. I was so out of my depth so to speak. A BED BATH??? I WOULD HAVE LOVED THAT! I could have done all of that in her bed and it would have been great. But Noooo had to move her against her will all over the facility. In her notes it said she preferred to stay in her room for care... but my instructor wanted different

    But you give me hope... there is light after the tunnel? I was actually told that this is NOT one of the better facilities for LTC so I can only hope that other facilities treat pts better. If I get that dependent, kill me. Please. BTW -- this was not a private facility which is why I probably got what I did-- patients didn't pay the government did.

    Which makes it so much worse -- OMG -- realizing that people are "housed" this way, only getting care by student nurses without a clue!??

    My instructor said get her out of her room (she meant community shower, rec room, etc) soooooo... On the bright side, i checked her chart -- she had not been OUTSIDE in any time I could find. So, I put her in a wheelchair, and I took her OUTSIDE the doors. I wheeled her by those wonderful gardens they have so visitors don't feel so bad, all those trees they have so nicely growing... which residents NEVER see .. by the flowers... up the sidewalk. She didn't fight at all then... but I got in trouble for WASTING TIME. Heck, I just needed some fresh air (I was with another student and her ward having wheelchair races up the sidewalk).

    I have never felt so degraded in my life having done what I did for this lady unable to do for herself. BUT I do not regret wasting that time with her. And my instructor was p*ss*d off so I had to do the patient with the bowel problem...
  7. by   sharann
    V-summer1,
    I'm glad that you are back in school and that you have learned something from your past experience. You don't have to be the perfect 4.o gpa nursing student, you just need to learn as much as possible and be comfortable with the basics. Who does a tube feeding their first clinical week? I don't know why they let nasty burned out wretches teach brand new "virgin" nurses. Good luck in school.
    p.s: I was out of school one yr before I felt "clinically" smart as opposed to only booksmart (which I always have been).
  8. by   caliotter3
    Instead of castigating you for "wasting time" your instructor should have praised your sound judgment in deciding to take the lady outiside for some fresh air. Not only did you do right, you were creative in working on two probs at one time (both of you got some fresh air!). Remember, when you have to document your clinical care, (for school: usu the pt care plan format) that you always should show a rationale for your decisions. You were not wasting time. There are sound clinical reasons for taking that lady outside. Furthermore, she responded in a positive manner. That observation goes down under "Evaluation" of nrsg care. See, there are several ways to skin the cat. If you ever find yourself in front of the program director you can argue your point. The instructor is not always right, particularly when they operate on some kind of bias. Long answer, but I'm trying to get you to see that you are "together", you just need to know it!
  9. by   Sodie
    I had some of those clinical experiences too ! Somewhere along the line, I realized that I was learning alot from these experiences. When you finish nursing school, you may have many days like this. I know it sounds horrible, but someone has to take of these patients. It can wear you out. Fortunatley, there will be many good times too !! Keep your chin up and Best wishes !!
  10. by   Vsummer1
    Originally posted by caliotter3
    Instead of castigating you for "wasting time" your instructor should have praised your sound judgment in deciding to take the lady outiside for some fresh air. Not only did you do right, you were creative in working on two probs at one time (both of you got some fresh air!). Remember, when you have to document your clinical care, (for school: usu the pt care plan format) that you always should show a rationale for your decisions. You were not wasting time. There are sound clinical reasons for taking that lady outside. Furthermore, she responded in a positive manner. That observation goes down under "Evaluation" of nrsg care. See, there are several ways to skin the cat. If you ever find yourself in front of the program director you can argue your point. The instructor is not always right, particularly when they operate on some kind of bias. Long answer, but I'm trying to get you to see that you are "together", you just need to know it!
    :kiss THANK YOU!!! I need that kind of support! BTW, there weren't other assignments we needed to do. We started this on our BREAK... and our instructor hunted us down like dogs (or so I felt at the time). It was the first smile I saw from my patient that made me stay by those flowers for a whole 10 minutes with the sun just shining through the trees ... before wheeling her back inside (or it could have been the wheelchair races but that was before... and I was runnin' behind so didn't see her face then.. and it took me a whole 10 minutes to catch my darned breath.)
  11. by   sjoe
    Reminds me of the song "Nothing" from "A Chorus Line."

    but---there is NOTHING normal for first week of clinicals. if it is a first-time kind of experience, no context exists for these kinds of experiences being within the realm of "normal." After a while, It's all TOO normal. IMHO
  12. by   TessRN2B
    Hi. I'm a nursing student also. i'm in an ADN program with 2 semesters to go!!! yeah!!!

    Anyway, your post just reminded me of one of my instructors last semester. she was a BEAR!!! she was demanding, overbearing, degrating, and hateful. but if you ask any graduate student, she was the best teacher on the earth. [go figure!] one night in clinicals, she started this whole 'i'm the instructor and you do what i tell you no matter what!!!' and through a fit in front of hospital staff. well, what the instructor was trying to do was actually compromising pt safety and the student stood up to her, to which she (the instructor) did not appreciate. to make a long story short, we came together as a class and with DOCUMENTATION reported her to the Dean (nursing dept chairperson wouldn't do anything to help up). he ended up firing her for her actions. there is no excuse to treat people so badly. we are all adults in this class and we certainly were not treat like such. so my point to this long post is that there is strength in numbers and don't stand for nonsense. you're paying her to be taught not to have your throat cut.

    hope things get better in your clinical and from one student to another.....GOOD LUCK!!!

    ~Tess
  13. by   Vsummer1
    I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. I really need it! I wasn't sure I could do this again, but after reading your responses I see that all I really need to do is not specialize in LTC.

    Who knows though? Maybe it could be my niche!

    Thanks again...
  14. by   researchrabbit
    I had an instructor like that in my next-to-last rotation. I thought I would have to leave. If I'd had her first, I would have! Not all instructors are like that, in fact most of them are nurturing and want to teach.

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