It’s been a very long first week of summer. School started and we’ve been thrown head first into the ICU. It’s exciting, and horrifying all at the same time. The way my school’s program is set up, we have our first year dedicated to fundamentals and med-surg, and then we break out for the second year into OB, peds, and psych, finishing up this 9 month non-med-surg run with a super intensive ICU (or SI-ICU, super intensive for us, ICU for the patients) rotation. So, now that we can’t remember the last time we hung and IVPB and haven’t had to go pick a patient (and do the subsequent 5 million hours of paperwork the night before) we are not only expected to hit the ground running, but we have to pick up where we left off last summer. Thanks nursing school.
But hey – it’s the ICU! I’ve been looking forward to this, although, now that it’s started, I really can’t remember why…. Oh yes! It’s because I really enjoyed working in the PICU, and so I thought this would be sort of like that. But somehow, the stress of it all has sort of diminished any happy thoughts I ever had of picturing myself as a PICU nurse. Despite this, I tried to stay optimistic on the floor last Thursday when we went to do our “scavenger hunt” of the floors, figuring out where supplies are, how to find what we’ll need when we’re actually working next week.Â So here we are, the professional looking students, donning our unflattering white uniforms (yes, I had to throw that in there again), and we’re looking around the floor. As a student nurse, I always try to ask questions politely, I don’t like disturbing other nurses, because I know they’re busy. I’m used to getting short answers and not taking it personally. That’s sort of how it goes. But it didn’t really take long before we started to really get the feeling like we weren’t welcome on the floor.
With the exception of ONE nurse (and we talked to, or tried to talk to, quite a few), we were greeted, so to speak, with blank stares and monosyllabic, albeit borderline rude, responses to questions. A friend of mine literally had to ask 3 nurses (all sitting in the nurses station) how to print a 6 second strip before another nurse sighed loudly and said, “Just push the record button!,” without taking her eyes off the screen in front of her. I mean, seriously, I know you’re all busy, I get it – I really do. But I felt like saying, “You were where I am now not that long ago, don’t you remember that?!” I just don’t get it. There’s that horrible saying, “Nurses eat their young,” but I always sort of thought that was an old saying, that it didn’t apply to how nurses act today – WRONG!Â I just don’t understand, especially since I feel like, as students, we’re there to help. If we can get along and have an amicable, working relationship with our nurses, we can make a pretty awesome team, and give some seriously awesome care to our patients. But with this wall up between us and them, and with the stress of the day piled up on top, it just feels like a recipe for disaster.
I really want this quarter to be great. And while I am nervous about the expectations being placed on us, I really feel like I am finally at a point where I am ready to tackle it. Sadly, the one thing I am most worried about, is the team dynamic on the floor. I can deal with the pressure I put on myself, and I can work with the pressure from my instructor. But if I am getting negative vibes sent my way from the nurses too, I don’t know how I am going to deal with that. I just hope it was a bad first impression, otherwise it’s going to be a long quarter.
Nurses out there reading this: How do you feel about working with students? Any advice for the students reading (and me!) about what you like to see from us?Â Students: Have you clashed with the staff? How did you deal?Â And on another note, does anyone have any advice on how to deal/organize/prepare for ICU clinical?