level I nurse student in doubt

  1. Hi, everybody!

    I am a student nurse in my first semester of the program! I worked really hard to get into the program, maintained a 3.95 GPA...well, I know I am able to do that. what I do not know is how suitable I am for the real hospital experience. I just started my clinical practice experience. Had an 87-year-old advanced Alzheimer's dementia patient, incontinent and all... Clinical instructor just dropped three of the 8 students of our clinical group on the floor, no instruction, no help, nothing. I had read a lot about Alzheimer a night before, so I had a few concerns -my patient also had a recent (October) vest-restraint order for being "agitated", so you can maybe see why I was a little nervous--the vest was not currently on her.

    Well, to my big surprise, for the first over 2 hours of the morning we were left without any help, no instructor, no CNA around, no RN, they were all gone. This was the first time in my life to be actually on a hospital floor. I did not know which lotion goes in the butt and which in the mouth, did not know where to get diapers from and which size, did not know anything, had to figure it all out, and I was also very stressed about my patient being totally out of it, just making some weird disturbed sounds, it seemed like despite my efforts of talking to her on a caring voice, trying to wake her up, she just could not. But I was obliged by my schedule to take her vitals at 8 am sharp.

    Lunch time came and my patient is on a wheelchair, sitting in her own poop. I tried to get somebody to help me transfer her to bed, since I do not feel at all confident I can transfer her to the bed to change the diaper. As the CNA told me this is my job, and she is there just to help me, I thought she would help me. Unfortunately, she was on her lunch break. I went to the RN and asked for help and I was told the lift team will be called. An hour later the lift team was still not there, but my patient was lifting my uniform blouse, unbinding my pants and pulling them down, to my great surprise, in front of all the patients or personnel who happenned to be around the activities area...I just felt my eyes grow bigger on my face. I think the patient was overstimulated, because of being kept for too long in the patient activities areas in the wheelchair, I don't know why else she would do that. I know nothing about Alzheimer, this is my first semester. She was also pulling her own clothes, later. I was really tired after a whole morning of figuring things out by myself, just me and a classmate who did not know any more than I did.

    Based on this experience, I am pretty scared. I don't know what's supposed to happen in a hospital and what not, but fact is I did try to do my part as well I could, provided oral care, perineal care (yucky), complete bath with moist towelettes and made the bed. I fed lunch to the patient, but she only ate 25%, probably because she was sitting in her own excrements.

    Anyway, after this experience, I feel like I am not a good person for this field. All evening I just felt the smell of this old woman in my nostrils, no matter what I was eating smelled like her, and then in the shower, despite efforts of scrubbing every little inch of my skin, it just seemed I was still smelling like that. I can only conclude that I either am not a caring enough person, or not good at caring, or just too emotional. When I took my own lunch break in the hospital, I was so stressed, worried at the thought that I left my patient in the wheelchair in the activities area, and wondering if she is fine there (I was asked to allow patient longer in activity area, although in patient record it states not to allow her for more than 1 hour at a time in the wheelchair). Well, can you imagine having ten patients at the same time how incapable I would be, would I be crying for each ten of them? That is not caring! in order to care for people, you must stay strong and cool-headed. Right?

    Anyway, my only focus in this nursing career is actually babies. But I have to go through all this old people care during my school. How much I dislike this, truly. Could it be because I am just not someobe destined to be a nurse?

    I am thinking of changing my major, because despite my good intents, I feel overwhelmed. I guess it is normal and all that, but... how do I find out if I am actually suited for this or not? I do know I am really good at school, have great interest in studying all the theory classes, love it! But, I cannot say the same thing about the hospital, no.

    Any help? Help! Should I change my major?
    Thanks for helping me with any advice.
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    About anisia

    Joined: Oct '06; Posts: 4


  3. by   michar
    Quote from anisia
    Any help? Help! Should I change my major?
    Thanks for helping me with any advice.
    Sounds like a tough first day.

    From what you posted I think you are a caring person and could make a great nurse. I would hate to see anyone giving up any career based on a bad first day.

    Chin up, and keep smiling.
  4. by   Race Mom
    Do not give up! I didn't care for the long-term clinical either. It was depressing and frustrating (lack of care). It does get better! Some people really are suited to long-term care, others-hospice, others-psych, others OB. You need to look at the bigger picture, not just one day. The experience you recieve from this clinical WILL help you with med/surg and PB/peds. Next time, FIND you instructor, let her know that you have looked for help but are unable to get someone to assist you and your patient needs cared for. Tell her that you are ready to do your first transfer, but request that she be there to guide you and your peer. Don't ever try to lift alone, you will only end up ending your career before it ever starts.
    Good luck and remember that it does get better.
  5. by   locolorenzo22
    Yep, we were told today to NEVER independently lift or transfer someone. A. student issues, plus back safety. Keep the faith, LTC is a very tough place. Especially depending on issues unrealted to health care, private/public pay etc....comes with the territory I guess.
  6. by   kukukajoo
    Hang in there! You will soon be out of the LTC clinical and on to something more!

    My days at the LTC facility end next week and then we begin Med-Surg which I can't wait for! I have had some scary moments at the current clinical site but just remember, this is how you learn your critical thinking skills!