Stand At Attention!!

I graduated from the LPN program on May 12, 2008. I am a 35-year-old mother of 3. The truth is, is that I started the nursing program originally in 1991 right out of high school. I was rolling right along until the first day of my first clinical rotation in a local nursing home. This day is the reason I quit nursing so many years ago, even though I knew it was my DESTINY. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Stand At Attention!!

The day started EARLY (at least it was early for a 19-year-old girl at the beginning of summer). My instructor was VERY strict. She had been a military nurse before becoming an instructor at the local junior college. All the students in her clinical group were told not to touch anything, speak to anyone, or BREATHE without her RIGHT THERE to observe you.

I was told to wait near the nursing station located in the center of the building that had four wings of 20 double occupancy rooms coming from all sides of it. There was a large dining hall next to the station. I was alone except for the little old ladies and gentlemen who were scuffling by in 'geri-chairs' or with walkers.

All of the staff seemed to be at lunch or break. This was a very unfamiliar place for me. I had not had ANY experience with elders before, and I was afraid to move due to my strict instructor.

Beside me was a frail gentleman who was in a 'geri-chair'. His head wobbled back and forth, frontways and backways until it became still as he looked straight up at the stained ceiling tiles.

I noticed a gurgling sound.

Then, choking sounds.

I looked over at the man at the same time the smell of vomit blasted my nostrils and made my stomach turn.

I'm not sure if it was the smell or the shock of seeing a man drowning in his own vomit.

Other elderly people AND staff were walking by him as if he was invisible. I stood my ground as I was specifically told by my instructor:


Her words echoed in my mind.

Every part of my body and soul told me to help the man, as his face turned gray and lips a dark blue-purple.

Everything happened in slow motion.

I could see a small blue-haired lady walking with her walker...through the vomit tracking it down the corridor and slipping on every other step she took.

"There's a broken hip waiting to happen", I told myself.

I felt like a well-trained police dog that was told to stay, though he wanted desperately to chase after the cat teasing him just out of his reach.

Sweat started to bead on my forehead. I peered down the long hallway where I prayed the instructor would appear, so I could point out the man who was "dying" just a few steps away. It seemed like a lifetime before I had had enough.

"I am here to take care of people, and maybe to save a life. Here's my chance, and I am not going to stand here and watch a man die!!!"

I spoke the words loudly in my mind. My body lurched forward and, with one hand, tipped the man's head forward so he would stop aspirating.

A large amount of vomit splashed down onto my brand new white nursing shoes. I heard the man take a breath, cough, sputter, then another breath as his face became pink.

His blue lips turned a cherry red color.

Then I heard a most horrifying sound...



My body became stiff and I stood up straight like a soldier at attention. My instructor grabbed my arm and yanked me into the nurses' station beginning her loud lecture of how I disobeyed a direct order.

At one point in her rant, she asked me what I was thinking. I simply looked into her eyes and said, "I am being a nurse, a caregiver, a human being helping another human being. Isn't that why I am here?"

I didn't wait for her to answer. I grabbed my books and walked out the door. I went to the board at the college and reported what had happened.

The instructor remained in the program for many years after. I quit the program and started a job as a bridal consultant. Seventeen years and three kids later, I finished the LPN program and I am working as a nurse. It was a nightmare that turned into a dream come true.

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Specializes in LTC, Home Health.

You Go Girl!!!!!!!!!

im glad you could go back and finish. that woman sounds like a terrible person. karma comes back

As I am your same age, I am so glad I was not ready to grab nursing school by the bootstrings at that age. I never would have lasted. I am surprised I even lasted in my late twenties/thirties as I had a miltary taught instructor as well.

Many of feelings you describe are real feelings of many new nursing students. May we all be reminded of those first few days in :pnursing school, as we met students along our paths

Good going by the way!

Welcome to the new world of nursing....caring, compassion, respect, dignity and empathy with no old world military strings......just kindness and skill!

Welcome cbj73,

It is unfortunate that you quit the program at that time but I am glad that you are with us now; congratulations.

It is my opinion that most of your co-workers and supervisors will be somewhat reasonable but you may still run into some military/law enforcement style supervisors. My advice to you is "Know your job, do your job, and happy nursing".

Nurse Smiley :loveya:

Specializes in ortho/neuro/general surgery.

You done good! That patient you saved was no doubt someone's father, brother, husband, son, and you listened to your instincts. Sounds like you are an excellent patient advocate. :nurse:

Nurses that have done milatry time are very strick. the mean well. If she was intentionaly trying to hurt you personally it will come back...:yeah: I had one as a co -worker. boy was she tough. She I think will come back . oh boy. ...Alot of times I hate my job. and do think I should have done something else as a career. Good Luck.:specs:

Specializes in oncology.
On 10/1/2008 at 8:43 PM, cjb73 said:

I'm not sure if it was the smell or the shock of seeing a man drowning in his own vomit.

Other elderly people AND staff were walking by him as if he was invisible. I stood my ground as I was specifically told by my instructor:

did you talk to the staff about what you were seeing - I know you were told not to speak to anyone - but this was the lessor of 2 evils.