I dreaded this 2 week period of attachment in the community hospital – as a nurse. Being a nurse was not part of my detailed plan of becoming a physician in the future. That was why I hated wearing the neatly pressed white uniform and walk around the hospital, sending a subconscious message that I was a nurse.
I do not despise the role of nurses, but I can never see myself being one for the long run. However, my perception of nursing changed quite a fair bit throughout my 2 weeks posting. Yes, I understand nursing more now, and I admire all those who decided to join this field, but I grew more determined to be part of the medical team of doctors. As much as doctors should be respected, I think nurses deserves more recognition and respect, especially after going through what nurses have been though.
My first day in attachment was more of orientation and briefings rather than the actual posting. Thinking back now, made me realized how quickly time flies.
My first shift started out in the afternoon and ends at night. During those times, I was quite scared and timid. For someone who gets thrown into a completely new environment, such feelings are inevitable. I was not as proactive as I am when comfort kicks in, so tension definitely arises and I am less participative of the happenings. My first shift was basically trying to understand what was basically going around and learn the basic skills. As we have certain objectives to achieve, my buddy and I had to plan out which skills we need to satisfy before we break off for the first week.
On the first day, I did not do much except getting to know my patients.
One of the first patients I met was an elderly man who had dementia. He was not agnostic or had aphasia and had a good command of English. Despite his poorer hearing abilities, he was able to communicate well. I really liked him a lot because of his cheerfulness and his smile is really contagious.
The second patient I met was one that had glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor) as well as an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) due to a fall. He was not responsive and always seems to be very tired. Occasionally, he would talk about things people don’t understand. However, when I was caring for him, I noticed that he had this habit of inserting his fingers up his rectum, pulling stools out.
After cleaning the mess and him up, we applied mittens on his hand to prevent that from happening again. Then again, he would try all means to untie the mittens and insert his hands to pull out the stools.
Initially, I do not understand why he was doing that, and that putting mittens on him was not solving the issue. However, a few days of observation and analysis, he had compacted stools that gave him a lot of discomforts which he cannot verbalize. Only after given laxatives to help soften his stool and increase motility did he stop pulling out stools from his rectum.
This incident became another reason why I wanted to do medicine. This patient taught me how things always happen for a reason. Even though we encountered a bizarre behavior, we did not provide interventions to help solve his root problem. What we did was to prevent the patient from self-intervening. Also, as nurses, providing non-pharmacological comfort and care is what we can do to relieve symptoms. However, symptom-relieving is not sufficient. This is why I wanted to be a doctor. To be a doctor so that I would be able to collect pieces of information and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle to identify root problems and tackle them instead of relieving symptoms which play absolutely no change to removing the malady.
Another patient I met had a 4 piece transverse intertrochanteric fracture of the femur due to age-associated osteoporosis. He is a very nice guy and shares a lot of information about his life with me. Sometimes, when he is bored, I would entertain him and learn a bit more about his history. Sadly, I was working on the PM shift when he was discharged so I could not get to say my final goodbye.
One more patient who had impacted me a lot was this uncle with COPD. He was on oxygen therapy and he is a very mischievous patient. As much as he tries to ”disturb” us for fun and laughter, he would always teach us a thing or two and constantly engage us.
In fact, the final two patients mentioned above have this trait which I do hope to see in many of my patients to come – they look after the safety of other patients as well. For those patients on high fall risk, they will notify us that these group of patients are going to the toilet and made sure we supervise them. This is the kind of kinship that you don’t really see elsewhere.
These patients have been wonderful to me and they provided a lot of learning experiences. From the execution of skills to perfecting the art of communication. I will never forget how they allowed us to perform certain procedures because we needed to practice them. I would really miss them a lot and do hope that they recover, while I fight my battle into medicine.
Besides the patients, the nurses in the ward have been super accommodating and nice (Except for one or two who were extremely rude [I understand they are busy, but isn’t there a nicer way to inform us rather than to brush us of like that]). They gave us plenty of opportunities to try out skills we have not performed before to clear objectives stipulated by the school.
Also, without my awesome classmates that are in this together with me, I am sure my experience here would not be as fantastic as it would be now.
Besides the people around me, I have learned a lot about myself (and also thanks to the thoughtCatalog article and an Instagram post by one of my friends).
It all started out with me doing a procedure and then having comments being thrown at me for questioning my techniques. Instead of going together with the flow, I protected myself and justify my actions. This incident happened a few times and I did not give much thought about it until I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw this.
I used to be an extremely agreeable person, probably a deeper level of me wanted acceptance by going with the flow. I knew I had this problem of not being opinionated enough and I wanted to do something about it. I tried, I failed and never give up. I am still facing the same problem, but I think I am trying my best to over this shortcoming. Improvements definitely can be seen, but more still needs to be done. Nonetheless, I am sharing this to you readers to convey the deeper message behind this paragraph of epiphany.
Essentially, everybody is different and we have characteristics that others do not like. And that is okay. You do not need to shape the way you behave, talk, and interact, to fit into the society to gain acceptance. Gaining acceptance is not important, and ironically, it is a hindrance to the development of your character, the development of the authentic you.
When you go with the flow too much, you tend to lose a sense of self and eventually, your identity would be lost.
This really made me ponder over a lot of things about how I should be more confident of my own personality and embrace my own flaws. Nobody is perfect and that is what make us unique. No point trying to make others happy if happiness does not start from you.
However, I came across this article on thoughtCatalog:
I guess I still have certain aspects of insecurity being displayed by how I justify my actions, which I really need to work on. This is a really interesting article (and a short one) that I recommend you to read.
Despite having a short 2 weeks attachment, I really enjoyed myself a lot over here. I do hope that this experience will help me with my future experiences as a doctor, and as a person.
I shall conclude here with photos of us on the last day!
Before we left, one of them suggested to make a Christmas tree out of Kisses chocolate! And this is the end product!
A selfie with the same shift of friends who we grew closer to each day!
Here’s a sneak preview of a photo I will be uploading to Instagram! Look at how cute the snowmen are!
And lastly, here’s to the best group!