The Fall 2021 semester is ending, and junior nursing students’ first clinical experiences are about to conclude. While these future nurses begin planning for their spring clinical assignments, they reflect on the successes and challenges they have faced so far.
Stevenson’s junior nursing majors started off the fall semester leaving the comfort of the Manning Academic Center and entering hospitals in the local Baltimore area. Junior Lindsey Draheim’s first clinical assignment took place at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in the Medical Unit. She said, “My day started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call, and I started my clinical at 6:30 a.m. and ended around 3:30 p.m. with only a break for lunch at noon.”
Junior Lauren Mellstrom attended the Greater Baltimore Medical Center on the Telemetry floor and said, “The first few weeks at my clinical were very overwhelming. If you had not done a previous medical job, everything you were doing was new.”
Another nursing student, who wishes to remain anonymous, felt like Mellstrom and said, “My most challenging experience was probably my first day. I was so nervous of messing up and I probably came off like that to the patient, but even so, the patient was so kind to me and made my first day go well despite my extreme nervousness.”
Although they faced many challenges throughout their clinical, they also felt this experience has been extremely rewarding. Junior Marissa Brooks said, “My most memorable experience during clinical was being able to help a patient who was hurting by providing them with a little humor. The hospital is not a person’s first choice of places to be and by being able to be a light to the patient, it makes a dramatic difference in their hospital stay.”
Draheim said, “You go in a lot of patients’ rooms, and you don’t feel needed. So, when I had a patient that I felt like my help was beneficial, it was the first time I walked away and felt that someone was better because of something I did.”
Nursing students did not know what to expect coming into their first clinical. Reflecting on what she experienced, Draheim said, “I really liked my instructor. She was very gentle with us, and I needed that, but I think she is taking it too slow. I thought it was going to be a little bit of a quicker pace.”
Mellstrom said, “It was, but it wasn’t what I expected. It was like mundane things you were allowed to do your first year, but then it exceeded my expectations because my nurses really allowed me to be hands-on. The main nurse you are assigned to be with makes the difference. If you have a nurse who does not want a nursing student, your day will be hard, but then you get other nurses who want you to learn everything you possibly can.”
During their first clinical semester, Mellstrom and Draheim learned and completed many basic tasks and procedures. Mellstrom said, “At my clinical, we could take vitals, do wound care, bed baths, attend patient tests, and you could see how the rounds actually went in a hospital.”
Draheim said, “I’ve gotten to do nephrostomy bag changes, IV flushes, setting up an IV, I can mix medication, but not give it, take out IV’s, incontinency care, catheters, and nasogastric feeding.”
During the Spring 2021 semester, SU’s nursing students will move on to new clinical assignments that will allow them to gain experience in a different field of nursing.