First Impressions, Part 1

My husband told me this morning: “I think you had a breakdown once per semester for J1 and J2. And in just one week of being an S1, you’ve had three.”

I think that sums up what this semester is going to be like for me. Although after surviving week one I’d have to say that I am truly VERY excited about what I’m going to get to learn and do this semester; I just hope I can make it to the end of these 16 weeks and PASS.

The week began rough. We had a child health lecture first and it covered how to communicate with children and then a lecture on the basic assessment of children. I say it began rough because first of all…I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to be a pediatric nurse, so the information in child health just doesn’t GRIP me the way that adult health does.

Second, I felt very “lost” in the lecture on how to communicate with children – almost as though the lecture had begun three weeks ago and I was just now getting into it. We discussed Erickson and Piaget, which I do remember from taking developmental psychology in pre-reqs, but hadn’t refreshed since then. Well this lecture literally had us “hit the ground running.” We were expected to know the different stages of development through Erickson and Piaget and we were expected to interact with that lecture by answering questions according to those developmental theories. Surprisingly I did remember quite a bit from my class two years ago…but I still felt like I’d just stumbled into this class after it’d been in progress for awhile. Not a comforting feeling when it’s your very first lecture of your senior year.

Third, the child assessment lecture really scared me. Children are NOT like adults. You don’t communicate with them the same way, and you don’t care for them the same way. And, although assessment is pretty universal, the way you assess a child feels different than the way you would assess an adult. Our instructor really stressed the importance of a VERY thorough assessment for children – not a focused assessment – because they could be fine one minute and in complete pulmonary arrest the next. That lecture scared me because as out instructor was teaching us how to assess a child, all I kept thinking was that I was going to forget something important and the child would end up in danger because I didn’t check their pulses or something like that! (I don’t think I’ll forget to check pulses, but you get what I’m saying.)

So that was Monday…and on Tuesday we had our first adult 2 lecture and mental health lecture. Adult began with a subject I love: the heart. However, we were given so much information in that lecture that I felt like we’d been given two weeks of information in only 3 hours. I’m wondering how I’m going to study for all that information and remember it all! And this information was just so different from previous material in Adult 1; it was more INTENSE and dealt with high-acuity diseases of the heart rather than the normal CHF, such as endocarditis, cardiomyopathy, pericarditis, cardiac tamponade, heart transplants, valve stenosis & regurgitation, valve replacements, and aortic aneurysms & dissections (yes, ALL of that in only 3 hours!).

I wasn’t sure what to expect in our mental health lecture but I’d like to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been dreading mental health since the first day of J1, however after just the one lecture on Tuesday and the follow-up lecture on Friday, I’m already convinced of how IMPORTANT it is for nursing students to take a mental health course and for nurses to understand mental health in EVERY aspect of nursing practice. And here’s why: no matter what kind of nurse you are, you will always need the skills of being able to communicate therapeutically with your patients and their family members.

Our lecture on Tuesday was a basic introductory lecture: why mental health is important, the different theories of psychology and why we study them, and an introduction to managed mental health care. On Friday (our mental health orientation, as it was called), we watched a video on mental health nurses – what they do and why it’s so important to them. That video made me cry for sure. Then we discussed the “therapeutic nurse-patient relationship”, the differences between sympathy and empathy, and how to recognize anxiety in ourselves and what to do about it.

So my first impressions from the lecture portions of this week: I think child health will be important but not really interesting for me (we’ll see how that changes once we start clinical). Adult health will be AWESOME but possibly quite overwhelming. And mental health will be something that I’ll look forward to every week (how unexpected!).

And why the breakdowns this week? I’m still not even quite sure. I think I’m just super stressed right now and every little thing makes me want to cry. There is a point at which, as a nursing student, you may be trying to do to much, and I think I might be there. But then again maybe I’m just trying to adjust to the different intensity of this semester and I’ll be fine once I get my feet on solid ground and can run with the rest of them.

We’ll see…

 

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2 thoughts on “First Impressions, Part 1

  1. Hang in there! Having breakdowns is just another one of the lovely aspects of nursing school. I can remember thinking that I could never know all of this material and would never get all the work done and wondering why I was even in the program. But, you will get through it. That information seems like so much right now, but there will be a time (about 3/4 through the program) when it will all come together and you’ll realize that you really have learned more than you think you ever could have, and your career will be right at the end of your fingertips.

    Good luck and stay strong!

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