Both sides of the Needle

Back to nursing.  We are in our second term of classes now, Health Assessment II and Managing Care of Adults as well as starting  our clinical experience.  Now we are in class from 8:30-7:15 on Mondays and Tuesdays and in clinicals Wednesday through Friday from 7-4.  It is a long week and we are flying through material. Next week we are being tested on giving a full head to toe physical exam on our lab partner which we have to get done in 30 minutes without notes! starting with the scalp, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, testing all the cranial nerves, respiratory, cardiac, peripheral vascular, muscles and joints, abdomen, extremities and spine.  There are lots of specific things we need to look for and note.  We do all of these skills on each other so we get to experience the patient viewpoint too.  Today we learned about administering medications, including injections!  We gave injections to each other in our abdomens and hip muscles. Just normal saline, not real medication and we all did amazingly well.  I have to say it is harder than it looks. Holding the needle above my lab partners hip as I placed my hands on her landmark bones to determine where the muscle was to inject into made me a bit nervous about making a mistake and hurting her.  I could hit a blood vessel or a nerve or bone! and she was watching! Along with the instructor and the rest of the class!  But I didn’t hurt her, I found the muscle, injected the saline, drew out the needle and she was fine.   Then it was my turn to be injected.  I am not usually squeamish about injections, they don’t really scare me.  But lying in the hospital bed as my partner prepared the syringes and asked questions of the instructor, I began to feel kind of vulnerable.  I have never had an injection in my abdomen before and I was worried that it would be very painful (in the stomach we did sub-Q injections) and I am pretty ticklish and don’t like people touching my belly so it took a lot of effort to stay calm with all my classmates watching while she did the injection.  It didn’t hurt at all! Same with the IM injection in the hip. No problem.  It was a good experience for us to have with each other.  We learned about how patients may be feeling vulnerable, apprehensive and scared, as well as the physical discomfort of being ill. We are all focused and excited about gaining new skills. We must remember that we are caring for a human patient and not just finding hips to test our injection skills.  There is a lot we need to learn in terms of gaining confidence in the physical skills and also in learning sensitivity and compassion for our patients.  Tomorrow we go to the hospital to get our first patient and shadow the nurse and start practicing some of our newly learned skills. Mostly beds and baths at first I think.  I think our experience today of being on both sides of the needle has given all of us a little perspective.


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