First clinical today... feeling sad

  1. I had my first clinical today at the nursing home. I was excited and nervous. Most of it was orientation, then we did an assessment... I assumed I would feel fine about that. I was terrified when we were set loose to do our assessment. I got through it, but my mind was a bit scrambled by the end. Tonight I just started crying... I felt so bad for these clients who have lost so much of their abilities and privacy and modesty. Due to privacy issues and all, you can't discuss things that happened or that you saw and I feel I have noone to talk to about how I am feeling or why.
    Do others feel this way at the beginning? How did you deal with it?
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    About OnTheRoad

    Joined: Feb '06; Posts: 180; Likes: 23

    10 Comments

  3. by   Amber_student_nurse
    It does get easier!
    Your first clinical experience opens you up to so many things that you have never seen or done before and can be very overwhelming at times. I found that talking to my friends who were doing nursing helped allot. Kind of like a debrief for the day. I just finished up on an oncology ward and that was pretty hard emotionally--but you get through. Talking, listening and sharing those times of dispair and overwhelment help a lot.
  4. by   csax
    I am in my 3rd semester and I definately can relate to the way you were feeling b/f and after your first clinical day. The first day is the day to get your feet wet so to speak and the best way to start is physical assessments. I promise you it will get better! It is a totally different situation and your first actual contact with a real person!!! As far as your feelings after the day was over, I felt the same way. The way I dealt with those feelings was to remember that if we are lucky we all will be old some day. We may not be in the same situations as some of our patients are, but eventually we may all have to depend on someone else to care for us daily. That is what you are doing everyday that you enter clinical. You are becoming that all important person in their life for that day. You are making a difference and caring for them in ways that they may no longer be able to care for themselves. You are going to get the technical things down with practice, and you are going to make a wonderful compassionate nurse because you are already realizing that your "assignment" for the day is not just a physical assessment, but actually caring for another individual that can not care for themselves.
  5. by   Sirius Black
    I felt like that also when I did my first clinical placement and still feel that way.

    The first week or so it can be so mentally and physically exhausting. Seeing first hand how say people with dementia are affected, the thought that I'm invading their privacy / minimal -no independence - showering the residents and dressing them, feeding them etc. For me it's especially tough dealing with the younger residents!

    I've found it does get easier dealing with these emotions, it's also important, if you have clinical debriefing at the end of the day try to discuss your feelings with the other students + clinical teacher. It helps.
  6. by   MySimplePlan
    This past winter, my father was critically ill in the cardiac care unit. He was unconscious, and we were overwhelmed by the gentle caring of the CCU staff gave my dad. It touched my family deeply. I made a remark to that effect to the nurse with my father that morning, and he said, "we're all going to be in that bed someday."

    That comment has motivated me more than anything else as I start this journey through nursing school. By making that patient your absolute priority and using everything you have to make their time with you a positive experience, you have a chance to touch people you could never do in another occupation. You sound caring and compassionate. All you need now are the skills. So do I. We can do this. We're learning how to be even better people than we are now. This will open us up and leave us raw some days, but our patients will be usually more vulnerable than us. it's OK to feel that sad. It will help us empathize with our patients that much more.

    You sound like a nurse I would like to have some day.
  7. by   midcom
    I had some bad experiences in nursing homes when I was a young child so I stayed as far away from them as possible. I wanted to be a nurse since I was a small child but this part is what kept me from going to school for nursing, the necessity of training in the place that scared the daylights out of me.
    Then 4 years ago my Mom got colon cancer & when she got to the point that she needed skilled people caring for her & she wasn't bad enough to go into the hospice home, she chose to go into LTC. She was only there 3 weeks & yes, I visited her. I was with her almost around the clock during her last 3 days. It was at that time that I discovered that my dream was still alive & it was because of the compassionate care of her nurses & the aides. It also woke me up to the plight of the residents who have nothing left & are lonely & for the most part abandoned by family. In a coulle weeks I start my classes to be an LPN & since I'm not a CNA, I'll be starting my clinicals in about a month, possibly in the nursing home where my Mom died. I still don't know if I'll want to work in LTC. I'm not sure if my fear is all gone but I'm going to give my best.
    By the way, it was while Mom was in the home that I got one of the nicest compliments ever. Mom's hospice nurse told me that the nurses on her floor wondered if I was a nurse as they were impressed by my compassion & the care I gave Mom. It ignited a spark that I thought went out over 40 years ago. Now, 4 years later, I get to start fanning that spark.
    Dixie
  8. by   Megsd
    I worked in LTC for a year as a CNA/HHA and while I agree it's sad to see confused or debilitated people and know their quality of life is dimished, I always saw my presence as an opportunity to make their life as fulfilling as possible. I was able to make sure they wore the clothes they liked, the makeup/jewelry they liked (if they wanted), I told them what the weather was like, what was going on in the community, what was going on in my life. I was their connection to the outside world, and they loved hearing from me.

    I would try to focus on the positive aspects of your caring for them, rather than the negative aspects of their lives. Remember the wonderful things you're doing for them are making a great difference in their quality of life.
  9. by   jov
    Quote from OnTheRoad
    Due to privacy issues and all, you can't discuss things that happened or that you saw and I feel I have noone to talk to about how I am feeling or why.
    First of all, with "privacy issues" I assume you are referring to HIPAA. The purpose of HIPAA is not to stop nurses and nursing students from processing emotional experiences. If that were the case, debriefing on trauma cases would never happen and it's mandatory.
    You most certainly can discuss things that happened and that you saw. Just be discrete, and leave out patient identifiers such as age, sex, and of course, names.

    btw, last week in lecture our instructor actually said she couldn't hand our papers back out to be distributed amongst the class because someone else might see our grade and "HIPAA prohibits that." Puhleeze. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act could care less if my fellow classmate saw my grade.
  10. by   Daytonite
    ontheroad. . .i felt the very same way. and, what did i do? i took a job as a nursing assistant in the very same nursing home during my second year of nursing school and i have worked off and on in nursing homes over the years. let me give you some information that may help you feel a little better. as a charge nurse in these facilities i learned that many of these residents had lived very productive lives and had loving families who still cared for them very much. many choose to go into nursing homes and directed their families to put them there so they wouldn't be a burden on their children. i learned this through many conversations i had with these patients when i was their charge nurse and got to know them really well because i saw them on a daily basis. my own mother, an lvn herself, would constantly tell her children that she expected us to put her in a nursing home because she didn't want us to interrupt our lives to care for her in her old age. fat chance i was going to let that happen! one of the things that our modern generations are seeing is the effect of aging on the human body. before modern medical interventions, old age was not all that common. to live to the ripe old age of 80 a person had to have excellent health. that is not so today. today, modern medicine can keep a human being alive well into their 80's, but many with chronic diseases. people with chronic diseases did not live very long in the old days. and, they do take their toll on the patient and those who care for them. one of the many ethical issues that modern medical treatment has given birth to has been the sustaining of life. now, medical professionals are looking at each other and asking, "but what about the quality of life?"

    i took on the attitude that i was going to work in these places and make a difference in the living situation of these patients. and, i've spent a good deal of my many years doing what i could at the various facilities i worked. i always tried to stay pleasant and positive in attitude with both the patients and the staff. i did my best to run out the caregivers who were in any way abusive. in the process i learned a great deal about supervision and the state laws governing nursing homes. nurses, you see, are also change agents as well as leaders. there is a lot that just one person like you can do to help the situation of patients in the nursing homes. perhaps you have found your calling. dry your tears. take solace in the fact that for the time you spent with a patient you gave them good care and a pleasant diversion from their routine. that is how we each affect each other in our own individual way.

    about your assessment, you will get better at it. rome wasn't built in a day. you didn't learn to tie your shoes in a day either. assessment is a skill that takes time to master. just like it took me time to master how to do a good job at supervision, you, too, will learn. have patience. check out this thread if you need some links and help with assessment skills:
    https://allnurses.com/forums/f205/he...ms-145091.html - health assessment resources, techniques, and forms (in nursing student assistance forum)
  11. by   OnTheRoad
    Thank you all so very much for your kind words, advice, and encouragement. It is good to know others have felt like I did and got through it. Thank you Jov for explaining the no talking about things to me.

    With skills I think I have to keep in mind that 5 wks ago I didn't know near as much as I know now and I will keep building on what I know and can do as I go along. Simply getting more comfortable in interacting with people I just met and whom see me as a caregiver (when I am feeling a bit out of my league) will do wonders I am sure.
  12. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from OnTheRoad
    I had my first clinical today at the nursing home. I was excited and nervous. Most of it was orientation, then we did an assessment... I assumed I would feel fine about that. I was terrified when we were set loose to do our assessment. I got through it, but my mind was a bit scrambled by the end. Tonight I just started crying... I felt so bad for these clients who have lost so much of their abilities and privacy and modesty. Due to privacy issues and all, you can't discuss things that happened or that you saw and I feel I have noone to talk to about how I am feeling or why.
    Do others feel this way at the beginning? How did you deal with it?
    You take these feelings and learn from them, and ask yourself what you can do. These people have lost quite a bit, but think to yourself what you can do to make that easier? When they are getting a bedbath (for example), they are completely naked, but a blanket can cover the parts not being washed, to hold in warmth, to preserve dignity. Explain what you are doing to them ahead of time. Say "ma'am" or "sir" or "Mr." or "Mrs." Offer them choices as much as possible ("Which shirt would you like to wear? Would you like to wear shoes or slippers?). I remember one lady i used to take care of, would wink and say "I feel like being crazy today, no underwear or bra, please" (she'd had a stroke and couldn't dress herself anymore, but her mind was all there).

    And one of the easiest ways to help preserve dignity and modesty is to shut the door and pull around the curtain.

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