Clinical Experience 101: Learned Lessons

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Being a nursing student is one of the most stressful roles one can have. The lack of sleep, endless careplans, compiling long medication lists, reading textbooks, studying, and clinicals can certainly take a toll on the toughest individual in more ways than one. I certainly felt the pressure, and towards the end of the semester, my brain was fried. Now that this semester is coming to a close and I am graduating, I can look back and laugh. Here's what happened to me in my third semester.

by l.a.m.b l.a.m.b, ADN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 6 years experience.

Clinical Experience 101: Learned Lessons

I was set to do a saline lock flush with my instructor. Mind you, it wasn't my first, because I had done them in the second semester without any problem. But it was the first one with THIS instructor, and she was very very strict.

A total stickler!

Ok, let's see. MAR...check!

3 ml flush intact, expiration date checked.....looking good! Alcohol swab...got it!

My instructor and I walk in, I introduce her, 2 ID check with patient and MAR, explain the procedure, put on gloves....awesome!

I am so good, and I even did it with a smile!

So I put the flush at eye level to expel the air bubble from the syringe.....and nothing happens!

I push the plunger a little more, watching my instructor across from me, her arms folded, a little smirk on the corner of her mouth. My heart is beating faster.

Please God, help me!

Why won't this stupid air bubble budge?!

Then, before I know it, the saline shoots straight up into the ceiling, and spills down like rainwater onto the MAR on the patient's bedside table!

Oh no!

What did I just do?

I left the stupid cap on, that's why I was having so much trouble!

I look over at my instructor, who's mouth is opening and closing like a little fish. I'm so scared!

Is she going to fail me?

"I'm sorry", I spurted, as I picked the wet MAR, "I will get another flush and I will be right back".

She follows me outside in the hall. I was so mortified, all I can say is the truth, "I'm so sorry Ann. I should have made sure to loosen the cap. It won't happen again".

I gathered my supplies and do the saline flush successfully this time. As she left, she shakes her head at me and makes a gun with her hand, points it to her head and shoots.

Gee, thanks, lady! That sure works wonders for my self-confidence!

Fast forward to this semester....it's the last semester, yay!

Finally, we are going to have a little more independence! My new instructor is superb, she tells us that this semester the cord will begin to loosen. Boy oh boy, finally we are being treated with a little respect, and like real nurses!

"Emily, I have an IV to hang".

"Good, get your stuff ready since you have done a lot of these, I won't tell you to step by step, I will just watch you", she says.

All right! I've done tons of these before, this will be cake!

I gather my equipment, tubing, labels, checked the chart, MAR, 5 checks, introduced myself to the patient, provide for privacy, explained the procedure, 2 ID'S checked, my instructor is chatting with the patient, everything's fine!!

My new IV bag is primed and hanging, new tubing in place, labeled, set rate entered, volume to be infused entered. I did everything so beautifully!

Geez, I was born to be a nurse, the board should just give me my license already!

I'm WAY too good!

Everything is set, and with a big smile I press the START button and wait for the IV to drip into the chamber...

BUT I HEAR THE MACHINE BEEP!

I recheck everything carefully. "I don't get it, Ana", I said, "the tubing is not kinked, the clamp is off, the machine is working, what could it be"?

I look at my patient, as he gives me a shy, tiny smile. His eyes move quickly to his left. I follow his gaze only to see that I FORGOT TO HOOK HIM UP TO THE TUBING!!

I gasp, as I hold it up. My instructor bursts out laughing.

"I wanted to tell you so bad", she said, "but I wanted to see how long it would take for you to figure it out!"

As a student, I've had my share of ditzy days and more than enough humble pie. I have learned so much about myself in this time and as a soon to be RN, I am so grateful for all the lessons

I've learned!

Humble pie, anyone?

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1 Comment(s)

cleo2uluv

Specializes in Nursing, Midwifery, Public Health. Has 11 years experience. 37 Posts

:chuckle. This story just reminded me about my student nurse days! It happened during a practical exam period to a friend of mine, she was so nervous that she ended up using her left arm as a drap to carry bed linens/slips instead of the trolley when she was asked to make up a bed! Watching her from the window, few distance away, we were shocked. We all went 'ah'. She survived it but she endured being tagged 'trolley' which was initiated by me for the duration of our practical and sometimes till date! This nickname she says reminds her of the green, naive days! Hmmm.