first of all i would like to extend my sincerest thanks to those of you who responded. i fell in love with nursing eleven years ago as a high-school drop out (ged recipient) when i landed my first job as a patient care technician at an area hospital. i worked as a tech for three and a half years but left the field to pursue a job in the business world. i was lured in by the prospect of the monday-friday, 9-5 hours and a generous salary. i quickly discovered that nothing could match the profound satisfaction i had been privy to in the healthcare setting. i tried to fool myself and enlisted into business management, economic, and accounting classes at a local community college. i remained in the business world for the next six years. i can honestly say that i disliked my job, however, it was the relationships that i established over the years that kept me there. i have always had an insatiable interest in humanity, absorbing all i can from every contact. i believe deeply that we all have a story to tell. each story that we share can greatly impact the lives around us. through the education we gain from one another we can potential illicit positive changes throughout our neighborhoods, communities, and possibly the globe. i know i'm an idealist. i'm also naive. quite honestly, i hope these are characteristics i never loose sight of.
so, to get to my point, because i'm sure you are wondering at this point where i'm going with all of this...
i made it through two years of classes and gained acceptance into the nursing program that i am currently enrolled in. one month after receiving notification of my acceptance i went out to celebrate my friend's birthday. her husband, like mine, was deployed overseas. it was a fairly large group of us that went out and arrangements had been made that anyone who needed to could stay at my house in town, versus driving drunk. once back at my home we stayed up several more hours talking and drinking. i went to bed that night never imagining what would happen next. while my best friend and her husband slept in my guest room and another close friend slept on my couch. i was raped in my own bedroom by the comedian we had all met that night. there are certain things in life, hypothetical situations, that you quite simply think you've escaped the window of opportunity. after all, i was nearly 29 years old, married, and living in literally one of the nation's safest communities.
skipping six months, now i'm in assessment lab and by shear oversight my professor neglected to inform us that we would be donning patient gowns and assessing each others' abdomens. i just assumed that we would do this on medi-man. i excused myself after the instructions for the day's assignment and sat in the bathroom and cried. how could i possibly get through this? shear will and determination, a strength i didn't know i possessed, kept me from leaving my books and belongings in that classroom and running across campus to my car. i vowed i would not return after that experience. my last patient experience was that of a rape victim in the emergency room having pictures taken of my most intimate parts, being swabbed and examined under the strange green glow of ultraviolet light. somehow, i kept returning to lab and every experience was a violation that i can't begin to explain. i began experiencing major set backs, relying on alprazolam and trazodone which i hadn't taken in a number of months. i began questioning whether or not i jumped back into life too soon. i began questioning if i would be more of a hindrance than a help. would my emotional state put potential patients in danger? would i lose my cool if i encountered a similar situation? the questions and the doubts are endless.
as our final assessment exam rounded the corner i began hearing how it would take place. additional upper class students would be making rounds through the screened off areas and stethoscope to skin contact in all assessments that require auscultation was mandatory. my anxiety level heightened. i had no more strength to draw upon. i ran into my advisor in the hall, the same woman who handled the scholastic portion of my trauma some months back. i burst into tears. she pulled me into her office and we talked about all of this. she then brought in my health assessment professor and i explained my situation. her response, completely not thought through as she asked why on earth i didn't come to her and discuss this matter. as the three of us discussed the matter at hand, the faculty began making arrangements for my final to be different. ah, one would think, "problem solved."
the problem isn't solved. reason being is that this experience is not uniquely mine. statistically, sadly it could potentially belong to one in five of my fellow students. in the aftermath of my attack one pervasive thought kept me alive. "somehow, this will lead to something good." i had to believe that. i still have to believe this. so this is the hill i choose to die on. sming, you mentioned rocking the boat and thank you for your compassionate response. this will be the boat i choose to rock. this has been an enormous obstacle for me, one that has come very close to preventing me from fulfilling a lifelong dream. despite the doubts, fears, and insecurities that i have, i know that i will be an incredible nurse.
sexual assault aside, there are multiple other reasons why i think the "learning" of health assessment techniques should be changed. when a patient goes to a doctor's office the idea of disrobing can be somewhat embarrassing or traumatic regardless of the situation but they are not going to spend the next two years with their healthcare provider in study groups, all night cram sessions, or even grabbing a cup of joe. everyone has insecurities about their body and they should have a choice in whom they show it to. take for example the "older-than-average" student whose breasts and abdomen don't come close to resembling that of their nineteen-year-old counterpart. it's awkward. it's uncomfortable. for some, it may very well be a deal breaker. i understand that technology may never offer an exact match to the heart, lung, or bowel sounds that i will hear on my lab partner but my point is this... students should learn the technique, the methodology, through lectures, videos, practice on self, family members, and even willing volunteers and then build upon the skills in the clinical setting on patients who are in the position that assessment is required, being ever mindful of their right to privacy and dignity.
i'm sorry for the lengthy rant. i guess i needed to get it out. i'm grateful for the anonymous opportunity and i am grateful for those of you who take the time to read this. i welcome and beg for your responses, regardless of opinion. i'd like to gain additional perspective. thanks again.