The night before clinical I could not sleep from excitement. Filled with nervousness and anxiousness, I tossed and turned in my bed unaware that the morning was quickly approaching. I had organized everything I needed prior to going to bed. I neatly folded my scrubs and placed them on top of my dresser. I imagined how it would feel to finally be in the hospital in my uniform. I felt proud about all the skills that I had learned in the classroom. However, I also knew that I would not perform my skills on mannequins but rather on living people. I did not have the luxury of getting a second opportunity to perform the given skill. When I woke up in the morning, I put that anxiety behind me and pushed forward knowing I was prepared. I put my scrubs on, double-checked if I had packed everything and headed out the door anticipating my first footsteps in the hospital. I expected to see a wide array of patients – each unique with different health concerns and with different plans of care. I yearned to see how nursing theory translated into practice.
Turning left off of Ponce de Leon Drive, I saw the sign: Emory University Midtown Hospital. I was ready to enter the hospital and arrive at Unit 31. The culture of the unit could be summed up in one word: inviting. This was my first semester in nursing school. They were very open to us even though we were students with very limited knowledge. I think by the end of that semester I had mastered the art of the bed bath. During that first rotation, I shadowed a nurse who had worked on that same unit for thirty years. She encouraged me to speak to the patients and ask her questions about anything I noticed. I asked her about how she schedules her day, how she chooses what assessments to perform on the patients, and so many other questions. She answered every single question with eagerness, willing to share her knowledge.
Second semester, so far had been fantastic. Population health and pediatrics were the best moments of my clinical experience. Waking up the morning of my first day of population health clinical, I knew I would be greeted by familiarity. First, because I had spent time at Mommy & Me for service learning last semester. Secondly because I hoped to stay with the same kids from last semester. Despite this familiarity with Mommy and Me, Clarkston was starkly unfamiliar to me. We have only a few weeks and the thought of planning a substantive intervention slightly worried me because six weeks seemed too little. I thought: how would we do this? What was the main problem that they faced? How would we help ameliorate all the health issues that this community faced daily? I knew the answer to that question already. We simply could not. At least – not in the time span that we have. However, I know that we could think of something that can, at least for the time being, address some of the health issues. At the end of my session, we made home visits to the mothers to further assess the health needs of the community. They were a source of inspiration and bounding resilience that could only be gained by personal experience. In the end, we worked on educating the mothers on health insurance and how to renew benefits for their children.
Overall I have learned that health care is so multi-faceted. The multi-dimensional approaches to health that we have taken in my clinical experience have surpassed my expectations. I look forward to next year and the future where I can learn more and achieve more.
Isai Flores is a third year student at Emory, in the school of nursing, pursing his BSN. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar and a BUNDLE Scholar.