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Getting to know "Jack"

Wuthier, Phil MS, BS

doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000395304.83786.da
Department: STUDENT VOICES
Free

Phil Wuthier, who holds a BS and an MS in mechanical engineering, is a nursing student at Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

STARTING A NEW CAREER is pretty darn fun. But, of course, it has its moments of terror—especially when the new field is so different from the old field. I'm not finding many helpful correlations between my past engineering work and my current pursuit of nursing. It seems a bit like learning to walk all over again. I want to run, and every once in a while I "feel running" in me, but I know it starts with crawling.

Nursing school often feels like crawling. There are a lot of principles to learn and a lot of people to get to know. One such person is "Jack." But let me start at the beginning.

Last year, we began our first clinical rotation in the hospital. I knew I needed to meet this ever-elusive nurse, Jack. As students, we're decked out in white from head to toe, as if announcing to everyone in the hospital exactly who we are. It's amazing how loud a person can be without making any noise. Because we're students, we know we need to learn a lot, and so we put ourselves in the position of learning every chance we get.

Either in words or more often without, more experienced nurses point out who we don't know. "You're a student, right? You really don't know Jack, do you?"

I find that my answer has changed over time. At first, I quickly responded, "No, I don't know Jack, but I hear so much about him. Everyone says I need to meet him. Where does he hang out? When can I meet him?" But I never got a good answer. Jack was always lingering around the corner, just out of reach, just ahead of me. I never could find him.

But now I've noticed that things are beginning to change. I'm in my junior year and halfway through the class and clinical that everyone says are the hardest in nursing school. At this point, I've learned a few things, I've experienced a few things, and I've conquered some fears. I've conquered the fear of starting an I.V. in the arm of a real live human being. I've given a lot of "shots"–including a flu shot to the CEO of our hospital (a story for a different time).

I've cared for quite a few patients now, some of them pretty sick and very depressed. In a small way, I think I've made a difference in their lives. I realize it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of work to meet Jack. But somehow now it's different.

I've interacted with many nurses, both male and female. Most of them have been great role models and great teachers. I've learned a lot from them.

But some of them haven't been so hot. It's clear that a few of these nurses have themselves forgotten certain things about Jack. Somewhere along the way, they've forgotten about caring, patient safety, and good technique. They don't realize that they've forgotten Jack. They've gotten comfortable in their forgetting.

So like all my student friends, I tread on. I'm finding nursing school a long but enjoyable journey. And once I finally meet him, I hope that I never forget Jack.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.