I precept students in the OR every semester and have up to 5 students per week with me in the OR for the entire day. This week was a little disturbing.
I get these young ladies and gentlemen at the start of the day and take them through all the surgeries I myself do during that day. So in addition to showing them the paperwork and discussing nursing diagnosis for the surgery patient, nursing concerns pre-peri-post-operatively, explain the equipment, instruments, and the procedure itself, I also do some very basic questioning on anatomy and physiology. This is natural because we need to discuss why a certain procedure must be done, the benefits, the risks, etc. and you can't discuss those without getting into what the heck we're here for.
So this week I had all second semester Junior nursing students. So here's some of the very basic questions I asked: What are the parathyroids and where are they located, what do they do? In what system are the tonsils located and what do they do? Where is the gallbladder, where is the appendix, what do they do? Why would you inject lidocaine WITH epi at the incision site? What are the ramifications of femur fractures? Why do we pad patient's after positioning for the surgery at pressure points? This is basic anatomy and nursing considerations for post operative care as well a peri-operative care.
All I got were a lot of blank stares. Now let me say, I chose the surgeries we were in with some great doctors, there was no yelling or carrying on by the physicians. The rooms were relaxed, the residents were all in a great mood, we even had CD's playing quietly. We were basically having as good of time as can be had in surgery. I understand students can be nervous by the atmosphere but I picked great cases for them to observe with a great group of people involved. I either got blank stares or guesses that weren't even close. I'm not a drill sergeant, my questions were posed with some background leading up to the questions.
I'm very very concerned. The whole semester has been this way, but this last week was the pits. These students will be nurses in a year, they've had 3-5 years of classes at this point. What the heck is going on? These students are from the flagship university of the state in a program that looks down it's nose at every other program in the area, does immense nursing research, etc. Where's all the critical thinking that is the buzz word of nursing education? I'm just at a loss to describe how astounded I was by this past group.