Everyone hears about how hard the Decker School of Nursing is from their nursing friends or by word of mouth (or possibly just me), but you can’t really understand the extent of exhaustion until you experience it for yourself. Juniors are going through this right now. Dates and times strewn across their planners, they have yet to see these assignments through to completion.
Unlike many other majors, where the bulk of work is centered around three exams a year, nursing is comprised of little assignments scattered throughout the week, forcing your head to repeat the words, “What do I have to worry about next?”
But fear not — that is why I am here. Finally, somebody to tell you what to worry about next.
In a word: everything. Your hard work will pay off and your work ethic will improve significantly, but you’ll also experience some changes in the way you view things. Free time for instance. For nursing students this vague concept is mostly theoretical, but has been rumored to occur mainly in the shower or during sleep.
If my honesty scares you, there is another option; a way out.
Junior year is full of prerequisites that must be performed before you start clinicals, but with a few tips I can help make sure you never get there.
1) Hand-washing: This is something everyone does, but a technique that must be learned correctly by most students in health professions before they can expect to take on more challenging tasks. But what if this proves too much of a road-block?
Professors are always instilling into us the importance of washing up to our elbows. Upon entering the lab, roll up your sleeves to the tops of your arms. Place your arms in the sink, elbows first and proceed to vigorously scrub just your elbows together. Just make sure you neglect your hands completely.
2) Respiratory assessment: Another important skill is the ability to assess your patient for potential breathing difficulties. Among the multitude of assessments performed, counting respirations is considered the most basic. Or is it?
For this skill check-off, we are often taught to take a pulse with our fingers on the patient’s wrist (their radial pulse) for the first 30 seconds and then “pretend” to continue to take the pulse when we are actually counting respirations. I would suggest following this advice for the first 30 seconds, but at the halfway mark close your eyes and maintain a firm grip.
If necessary, explain afterwards how you were letting your energies collide because you wanted to ‘see’ the respirations with your hands.
3) Medication math: Everyone makes fun of nursing math for not being difficult, but depending on your quantitative abilities the equations may take some practice. If, however, the math does prove too easy you can still ensure that you don’t pass the test by running out of time. Toss away the calculator and pull out your pocket abacus. Finally, somewhere to show it off.
4) Blood pressures: You have to take a lot of blood pressure readings in nursing school. This can be stress-inducing for some patients, especially if they worry about being on the cusps of high blood pressure. My suggestion is to repeatedly spray lavender scented perfume in your ‘patient’s’ (fellow student nurse’s) face until he or she stops protesting; you now know that you have properly and professionally assuaged their fears. This will show your professor you can address your patient’s psychological AND medical needs.
5) Bed bath: One of the most cherished parts of junior year is when you get to simulate giving a bed bath. This consists of you and your partner wearing bathing suits and bathing each other. It would be difficult to mess this up but what would a nursing student be without a challenge?
The challenge: Don’t wear a bathing suit.