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My first day at clinical! (A longish tale)


Specializes in MPH Student Fall/14, Emergency, Research. Has 2+ years experience.

hi all! i'm a long-time lurker, first-time poster. i was so excited about my first day at clinical i just had to share with everyone! :D a little background: i started my program in fall 2008, and this is my second term. the first term was all theory and last monday was my first experience actually in a hospital setting. this is the first out of four years for my bsn degree.

'twas the night before monday

and at the back of the house

on ichat i chatted

with my absentee spouse

my uniforms were laid

on the bedside with care

crazy print, teal, and navy

they were all three of them there

the bathroom was ready

for the next morning's rush

my specs, hair stuff, and towels

and of course my toothbrush

in the kitchen, my lunch

was prepped and ready to go

with snacks of all shapes and calories

and my tea mug in tow

by the door, ready, waiting

my shining white shoes

my backpack, my id badge

(which i must try not to lose)

then, finally, it was time

to get snug in my bed

and the prospect of being a real nurse

danced around in my head

(i hope you enjoy that little ditty. it took me a while!) :)

ah, yes, monday. the big day!

happily we didn't have too long of a bus ride because i looked at my watch and we were right on time! so we went to meet everyone in the lobby. there were about 15 students there, which were 2 clinical groups combined together for the first day's orientation. we were supposed to be ready in our uniforms but several of us didn't get a chance to change. no problem, however, as our clinical instructors moved us out en masse, in search of our lockers.

ok - let me just say this: this hospital is crazy in regards to the floor plan. we were going upstairs, downstairs, across pedways, and upstairs again. our instructor asked us, once we arrived at the hr office,

'okay, does everyone remember how to get back?'

uh, no.

i hope i figure it out sooner than later. there didn't appear to rhyme or reason, or even good signage! at least one of the girls in my clinical group works at that hospital as a porter. she knows how to get everywhere!

so we got all cleared at the hr office and went off in search of locker rooms. we spent forever looking. and looking. we walked down stairs and up stairs and farther down again. we were in, i kid you not, the underbelly of the hospital. there were pipes and steam and things smelled like oil, and there were maintenance guys and old broken beds and everything. and we schlepped on, back and forth, up and down. we were wandering for an hour at least. and our clinical instructors were in the lead! not even porter girl knew where we were.

finally our instructor was like, uh, ok. how about you guys go back to the main restaurant and grab a coffee, and we'll try and figure this out.

apparently there were in fact lockers available for all of us female students but there was one male student and they couldn't figure out where the male lockers were!

so we hung out by tim hortons and chatted nervously for a while. some orientation so far! :) finally they returned with actual real directions on where to go, so we managed to get our lockers sorted and we then met up on the unit.

1000 hrs: 15 sweaty-palmed first year students huddle in a tight group at the edge of the unit, peeking nervously onto the floor.

finally, it was time. our instructors walked out onto the unit and began to show us around!

it's a sub-acute ward with a fairly geriatric population. no one's in life or death (thank god) and mostly it's just old folks who are too sick to live at home and are waiting for a transfer to a nursing home. there was a younger guy on the ward on suicide watch as well so it was a bit varied.

first impressions: the unit is tiny. it's a cramped hallway with perhaps 15 rooms with 2 beds in each. the hallway is even more cramped by all the equipment and (what looks like) junk all over the place. the nursing station is manned by two harried clerks (who we are on strict orders to not bother) and there is a teeny-tiny office at the back with a sort-of break area. there's a patient kitchen which is just composed of a sink and some cupboards, a fairly lux-looking bath room (i want to take a bath in it - soooo deep), and a utility/linen room.

the unit was made even more cramped by the fact that there were fifteen of us wandering around. i felt so awful, all the nurses were trying to get around us and get their jobs done but it's like we were coming out of the woodwork!

so we were introduced to a few of the nurses when they had a minute. the first one advised us to 'get out while we still could'. why, oh why would you say that to first year students on their first day? thanks, nurse-preceptor-lady, that's great encouragement. it was so cliche that i was annoyed but not angry.

after the brief intro we were split into teams of 4 and given scavenger hunt lists of equipment to find. it took a while and it was pretty fun. i've never really been in a hospital before (certainly never as a patient) so getting to rummage through all of the drawers and cupboards and go in the 'staff only' doors was great! we left no drawer unopened, no lid unturned.

the only beef i really had was with how many of us there were. we were all over the place! i felt kind of bad. especially because, from the patient's perspective, there were like a million nurses on the floor and not one of them would stop to help. i smiled at one old lady and she said....

'i've been waiting for help for a while now'.

stop. freeze.

did she just ask me for help?

does she not see the flashing incompetent sign over my head?

does she not realize that i am useless in terms of patient care?

why would she ask me??

*insert hyperventilation*

and then i realized:

because, silly, you are wearing a uniform. you have an id badge. you look like a nurse. and from where she's standing, you are a nurse, first-year untrained student or not.

as my instructor later said: you have just as much a right to be here as any of the paid employees. this is a teaching hospital, and you are doing the job of learning. ergo, while you are here, you are staff.

this was my shining moment in clinical: even though i feel like an extraneous toe in terms of competency and utility, i have a purpose in clinical and that is to learn. to learn all i can about being a nurse.

perhaps you are thinking, uh, yeah, ugrn, that's... pretty obvious.

well, maybe it was so obvious that i missed it entirely. :)

clinical was dismissed quite early on monday so that experience and the scavenger hunt pretty well wraps up my first day. i hope yours is, was, or will be as good to you as mine was to me.

anyway, i hope you enjoyed my story! :D

Edited by tnbutterfly
Removed link per TOS

What a cute poem! I really enjoyed it. Your post was awesome, thank you for sharing. :]

We don't really get an orientation to the hospitals. First day of clinicals last semester they assigned us patients and told us to go take vitals and help out where we could. It's so weird to think of yourself as a nurse at this point, but like you said, in the teaching hospitals we have just as much right to be there and to provide care as the licensed RNs. This still hasn't sunk in yet. :p

I hope you continue to enjoy your clinical experiences and learn as much as possible from them.

i smiled at one old lady and she said....

'i've been waiting for help for a while now'.

stop. freeze.

did she just ask me for help?

does she not see the flashing incompetent sign over my head?

does she not realize that i am useless in terms of patient care?

why would she ask me??

*insert hyperventilation*

this made me laugh so hard, because i swear, i felt like that most of my clinical days in my first semester. (and i will probably feel like this for awhile yet!) it's rather like when i was first married, and someone walked up and said "hello, mrs. t!" and i looked over my shoulder for my mother-in-law.... yeah, gotta love those moments.

I love that poem! Too cute. Congrats on your first day and I have to laugh as I remember the nervous "huddle staring down the hallway"! Before you know it, you will be right at home there and the nurses will warm up to you and let you do and see all kinds of things. Hopefully they will break up the clinical group. There were days that went by that I didn't see anyone until we all met up at night again down in our conference room. Then we got to hear all about each other's days. That was so much fun! Good luck and keep us posted!

chicookie, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg. Has 8 years experience.

This made me laugh so hard, because I swear, I felt like that most of my clinical days in my first semester. (And I will probably feel like this for awhile yet!) It's rather like when I was first married, and someone walked up and said "Hello, Mrs. T!" and I looked over my shoulder for my mother-in-law.... yeah, gotta love those moments.

LOL even when as a nurse I still get those moments. =o You want me to do what? You want my help? What do I look like, a nurse? LOL

I am glad you had a good first day of clinical. You will rock the floor, I just know it.

NurseLoveJoy88, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 6 years experience.

I really enjoyed your poem, and can totally identify. I remember when I answered my first call light at the hospital during clinicals... My heart almost leaped outta my chest. Thank God all she wanted to do was use the commode. I thought I could at least manage that.

The worst was when My clinical instructor wanted me to suggest a certain Med for my patient. I looked at her like she had three heads ! I said" You want me to suggest what ? To a doctor ? ! She insisted. So I grabbed one of my fellow nursing students, to escort me over to the doctor( I really needed her there c- me, because I felt like I was about to faint), and I suggested the med for my client. He was very nice to me, and listened. Whoo, what of never thought I'll get through that clinical.

Oh, and will never forget when my period came at 9:00 AM, clinicals over at 2PM, I'm wearing a thong, and not a tampon on site ! Talk about scary !

Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

That was awesome - keep writing and sharing throughout your nursing school (and later, nursing) adventures!

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