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Friday, March 7, 2008

Trying to be fair to nursing students

The first four hours of my shift tonight I had two students following me, which was good and bad. Good in that I love to teach. Bad in that having students forces me to really slow down, do every thing right, not cut corners and provide a good teaching experience for the students.

Which was really hard tonight because we are so busy. But I want students to get a good experience when they follow me, and I don't want them to go back to school and say, "What a bunch of lazy, morons."

I remember when I was a student, and sometimes I'd follow a preceptor who didn't seem to be interested in me at all. He'd just go about his work, not explain anything, and I'd feel out of place the whole day.

The students we had today were nursing students, and usually each nursing student follows RT around for one day to get an overall feel of what its like to be an RT, and also to learn about listening to lungsounds.

With all the patients on treatments right now, my students got to hear just about everything they needed to hear in the first two hours. So, after Jane took off at 9 p.m., I was left to work alone, with two students, and I was pent on finding something more interesting for them to do other than following me around doing treatments. How exciting is that?

While I enjoy having students, having two students can be a bit of a challenge, more so because I feel like I'm catering my presentations to one of the students and the other feels left out. That's how I feel about it anyway. I don't think it's fair to me nor my students when I have to have two of them.

Heck, one day last year I had one nursing student, one EMT student and one RT student all in one day. And it was my natural RT instinct to favor the RT student, mostly because the RT student was going to be back here on a regular basis, and the RN and EMT students only follow us one day.

And you have your good students and your bad. Tonight we were fortunate to have two very intelligent, hard working nursing students, which made teaching enjoyable.

So instead of having them follow me around while I did a bunch of non-indicated treatments I took them into the critical care where we have two ventilators and a BiPAP set up. Instead of doing my vent checks, I gave the students a RT 101 ventilator presentation. Or, better yet, I gave them the "everything nurses need to know about ventilators" presentation.

I think they enjoyed that. In fact, I know they did. One of the students told me he was thrilled to learn that there is a lot more to respiratory therapy than just setting up equipment.

While we are experts in the pulmonary system and the airway, we also have to know about other systems of the body, because all the organs work together, and they all, in one way or another, can effect a person's breathing.

Anyway, I think I did good today, despite how hard it was to slow down, and despite how burned out I am, and despite how much easier it would have been to have simply worked by myself and knocked off all my assignments fast as I could and have been done with them, despite how hard it was to rush back and forth between ER and CCU with two students.

The most traumatic part of the night for me occurred just before the students were finished following me. I was called to suction out one of my favorite patient's stoma.

And, considering the other nurses were finished with their assignments at this time, and considering they never saw anyone get suctioned before, I found myself with an audience of at least ten students, definitely not something I'm used to. But I survived. We always survive.

Still, between the vent patients, the psychotic on BiPAP, and the suctioning, I think I gave those students something cool to talk about in their discussion that's going on right now. At least I hope so.

On a side note, it's interesting how routine our jobs become, and things that we do without much thinking seems like a major deal to other people, like students. I remember when I was a student calling my RT student friends every time I bagged or suctioned or did (or observed) something new. Things that are second nature to me now.

Now I'm the preceptor, and the one challenged to find things, to explain things in a simple manner, that will give my student for that day something to talk about amongst their fellow students.

The neat thing for nursing students, though, especially first year nursing students, is that when they are following RT, they get away from the butt wipeing and back rubbing for a day, and they get a chance to see the action. Because if something big happens, RT more than likely will be there.

While we didn't have anything overly exciting happen today, I can't imagine the students on the patient floors wiping butts had more fun that the ones that followed me.

Plus, before Jane Sage clocked out, we had fun with the students by intruducing them to RT humor. We couldn't help ourselves. We explained to the students that RTs seem to develop a good sense of humor.

And, as one of the students observed, we like to sit for long periods of time. Whenever we are near a chair, or if we have a minute, we sit.

"Can we just get up and do something," one of the students said earlier in the evening.

"No," Jane said, smiling, "you're supposed to be learning what it's like to be an RT. This is part of what we RTs do."

1 comment:

Jane said...

I love when the nursing students are around! They really help out. I remember my day with the RT as a student. I will always have a special place for RTs since.....
It sounds like you have provided a great learning experience.
Love Jane