Nursing School Blues

  1. I hope it's okay if I just vent and whine a bit. Please feel free to jump in with your own vent if you need to.

    My main whine is that I feel like an idiot when going out to community agencies for clinicals. We've only been twice, but I feel like a complete and total fraud. All I really know how to do is wash my hands and don protective gear for standard precautions - and I'm not exactly a pro at those. Today, I went to an assisted living center (nursing home) and sat with a lady for about an hour to talk, practice therapeutic communication skills and taking vitals. I had no clue what to say to this poor lady, every thing I said was a "block" and not therapeutic in any way. Also, I'm wearing this lab coat and look all professional with my brand spankin new stethoscope around my neck, but it just feels like a Halloween costume.

    I was a broadcast journalist in a former life, had my own little news show and everything, so why is it I can strike up a meaningful conversation with a 90 year old woman?

    I'm going back tomorrow, hopefully I'll do better, but GEEZ it's awful to feel like a failure already!
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    About NurseStudentFall01

    Joined: Apr '01; Posts: 78; Likes: 1


  3. by   BrandyBSN
    We have all felt that way at one time or another. and yes, it is perfectly ok to vent. You are not alone.

    Personally, I HATE home health, i think it is kinda gross (never know what the house is going to be like, and everything you touch makes you feel "dirty". Patients who have cats drive me crazy. Dont get me wrong, pets are a great relaxer, but i am SOOOO allergic to cats that I sneeze through the entire visit. I can take benadryl and get through it, but then I am also fighting trying to stay awake.

    Nursing homes have never been my thing either. (thank god that clinical is over!) I cant just "strike up a conversation" with the residents, and I get really uptight. Its ok, I do fine in the hospital setting, and will never have to work LTC or home health in my practice. If nursing ever goes downhill, or a get laid off, I can always fall back on being a computer tech again (better hours and money anyways). Some people really do great, and feel comfortable in Home Health and Nursing HOmes, its just definately NOT ME.

    We all have our strengths, and we all have our weaknesses. Its ok You are not alone!

    (((((BIG HUGS))))))
  4. by   essarge
    I'm sorry you are so blue!! I think that "just talking" to people is different than having to "perform" while you are in nursing school. You feel as if you are under a microscope and the words just don't flow freely.

    Try pretending that this is someone that you just met (were you allowed to read the patient/resident history?). The history holds allot of good tools to help you figure out what to talk about.

    The main thing to try to remember is use open ended questions. Try not to use questions that can be answered with yes or no. Things like "are you feeling ok today?" just require a yes or no. Try "Hi Mrs. X, how does the arthritus in your hand feel today?" If they answer with fine...probe a little deeper and get her to describe it for you.

    Hope this helps!!
  5. by   MRed94
    Like essarge said, read the history first.....

    Most of these older women wear a ring or two, or something they are wearing will be enough to get convesation going.

    Ask about their kids, ask about their former lives, or just comment on the weather, no matter what it is doing.

    One of the things I love about working with the elders is that they are most often willing to talk about just about anything, if you have the time.

    I love talking about the "old days" and have learned so much from so many of them. They are a fount of knowledge and experience in just about anything.

    I had a Titanic survivor as a patient once upon a time, and the stories she told me....she was steerage, and what an adventure that was for me.

    Luckily it was during school that I talked to her, and was able to spend a lot of time with her. I later would go an visit on my own time.

    Sometimes if you just tell them the TRUTH...( I feel really stupid, or I don't know what to talk to you about, ) it opens the floodgates.....

    Just hang in'll be a pro in no time!

    Another small note, I always tried to carry a small book or a newspaper with me, and offering to share it, or read it was always a good one.

    Last edit by MRed94 on Sep 5, '01
  6. by   JennieBSN
    Everybody feels out of place at one point in time during school. I not only had trouble talking to little old ladies, but felt like a complete bumbling IDIOT for the first 4 mos. of clinical.

    I find that when I just relax and be myself, it's much easier. When I first started school, that crisp lab coat and stethoscope made me feel like I had to 'perform' somehow when talking to patients. It wasn't until I figured out that I could still be myself while maintaining that 'professional' behavior that I finally felt comfortable.

    It's great that you've been successful in another career. Keep reminding yourself of that fact. You have risen to the challenge before, and you can do it again. Keep remembering that you are NOT an idiot, you are simply LEARNING something new. It will come. Give yourself a mini pep-talk before clinical, do some deep breathing, and remind yourself to relax and just be YOU. You're gonna do great!!!
  7. by   JennieBSN
    Originally posted by MRed94

    I had a Titanic survivor as a patient once upon a time, and the stories she told me....she was steerage, and what an adventure that was for me.

    WOW!!!! That is SO cool. I am jealous. You must share her stories w/us. I would have LOVED to have talked to her. You should write her stories down. That's stuff to tell your grandkids. COOL!!
  8. by   prmenrs
    It sounds to me like you're absolutely normal!! You don't just put the white coat and stethescope, and bingo, you're a pro! How did you feel the first time you interviewed some hot shot?

    I'm proud of you for making such a major change in careers! I think you're going to be great!

    What are you supposed to be getting out of this experience? Like, what do the objectives say? If communication skills are the primary objective, start with small talk. If the patient is willing to share, ask them what they did before. Compliment them. Use touch carefully, but it can create some communication of it's own, esp if they can't talk well. Body language is VERY important, try not to cross arms and legs, and lean forward. Grooming is good. What woman doesn't like some hand cream massaged into her hands--but watch out for that arthritis! Ask first of course. Some older patients DON't like to be called by their first names, they are Mr/Mrs, and watch out for the "honeys" and "dears". If they have pictures, comment on those.

    Try to forget about what you're wearing--focus on the client. One good thing about our funky student nurse uniforms in days of yore was that we didn't have to pretend we were something we weren't--one glance and the clients KNEW we were students!!

    Practice with your classmates or friends -- at first, some of the things the instructors tell you to say sound weird, but, after a while, it'll work. If you really hate it, make up something of your own. In your former life, you had tricks to help people open up if they got suddenly shy on air--use 'em.

    Older people are walking, ok maybe rolling, oral historians. The men may be more willing to talk about events, the women, their families.

    Keep in touch, we'll be more than willing to let you whine/vent, etc. There's umpty thousand people on this board, and we're all rooting for you!
    Last edit by prmenrs on Sep 6, '01
  9. by   NurseStudentFall01
    I went back to the nursing home today and I feel SO much better about the experience! I followed the great advice here and just decided to be myself. I felt so good when I left there because I could see that she was cheered just by having me there to chat with.

    I know that nurses are far too busy to really sit and talk with their patients like they want to, and give them all the attention they'd like. So, I'm hoping to use these next couple years while I'm in school to really pamper my patients and give them all the time and attention they deserve.

    I really appreciate all this wonderful advice, I see now that I shouldn't worry so much about ME, the patient really is the focus. I'll try to remember that from now on.
  10. by   prmenrs
    ATTA GIRL!!!