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Department: Student TXT

My First Clinical Day

Nesvig, Sarah BSN, RN

Editor(s): Juarez, Maureen J.; Friesen, Pamela K.; Missal, Bernita E.

Author Information
Journal of Christian Nursing: January 2009 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 54
doi: 10.1097/01.CNJ.0000343930.93927.41
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He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29–31, NIV)

At the beginning of my junior year of nursing school, we had our first hospital clinical. I had spent much time practicing vital signs on my classmates, roommates, family, and any other willing soul. I was anxious to start nursing “for real.” The day before the first clinical, the instructors' pep talk reminded us to eat well and get enough sleep. Unfortunately, I didn't listen to this advice.

Early the next morning, I entered my patient's room. My sole responsibility was to observe a dressing change. The smell as I entered the room should have been a warning that things were not going to go well. The patient's whole abdomen was open, and she was experiencing a lot of pain while the nurse packed gauze into the wound.

Soon, I began to feel hot. I told myself that I would be fine and focused on the wall. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor surrounded by staff with a sore arm and water on the floor. Apparently, I had stumbled across the room and fainted, knocking over my patient's bedside table and water on my way down!

I repeatedly apologized. I could not believe what had happened. To make matters worse, the story quickly spread among the nurses and my classmates. The next week as I was getting report, a nurse was laughing about how a nursing student had fainted the previous week. I didn't have the heart to tell her I was that person. Now, 4 years later, I can laugh about my first-day experience, but at the time, it was quite humbling.

Throughout the remainder of nursing school, I experienced many ups and downs. I felt exhaustion, frustration, joy, doubt, failure, and success. In the end, it all was worth it. As noted in Isaiah 40, God promises to give us his strength when we feel like giving up. He lifts us when we fall. He is faithful when we cry for help. It was in times of failure that I learned my greatest lessons.

God has led me a long way since that first clinical. Now I am orienting new nurses and students. I recall myself 4 years ago as I look into their scared faces and relate to their fears and dreams. Everyone makes mistakes. But you must get up, learn from your errors, and try again.

In the process, be mindful of the bedside tables.

Texting and Accidents

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Increasing numbers of injuries involving people who text while walking, bicycling, rollerblading, or driving have been reported. Emergency room physicians report that most text-related injuries are scrapes, cuts, or sprains sustained by texters who walked into lampposts or walls or tripped over curbs. However, serious injuries and deaths have been attributed to texting.

Teens need to be counseled to refrain from texting while driving. A recent survey in the Salt Lake Tribune reported that 46 percent of teens say they text behind the wheel.

Tribune Staff and Wire Services: Salt Lake Tribune. (2008, July 31). Docs warn that texting could be hazardous to your health. Retrieved August 1, 2008 athttp://www.sltrib.com.

Working on the Shortage

Too few nursing instructors and an aging nurse population are setting up critical shortages of nurses in every U.S. state. The Health Resources and Services Administration has estimated that the shortage will be 1 million nationally by 2020. States are working to counteract shortages by helping schools turn out more nurses and improving working conditions.

In the past 5 years, more than two-thirds of the states have committed funds to nursing education, increasing money for scholarships, loan-forgiveness programs, higher faculty salaries, and more educator positions.

But even if the states graduate more nurses, nurses leave the profession because of stressful working conditions. In 1999, California (the only state to do so) limited nurse–patient ratios, allowing one nurse to no more than five patients. The American Nurses Association supports legislation requiring hospitals to have committees with nurses to draw up staffing plans. In 2008, Connecticut, Ohio, and Washington enacted safe staffing legislation, bringing the number of states with similar laws to at least 13. To date, 14 states have placed limits on mandatory overtime or banned it; 7 states have laws requiring hospitals to have workplace violence prevention programs; and 8 states have increased penalties for violence against nurses.

Graduating nurses are encouraged to check nurse–patient ratios, shared governance, and workplace policies before accepting any position—and to pray for God's guidance.

Vu, P. (2008, September 22). States work to avert nurse shortage.Stateline.org. Retrieved September 25, 2008 at http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=342467.

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