Remembering When I was a Student Nurse
One of my favorite memories
I got permission at the age of fourteen to become a candy striper at Children's Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama. That permission had to come from
1) My parents
2) My School Principal
3) My Pastor
As a candy striper at Children's I was "allowed to"
· carry labs to the upstairs lab,
· pass out ice and water as well as help with feeding patients who could not feed themselves
· Changing beds with a nurse. I had to carry my own stepstool, I was short and the beds and cribs were tall
· Wash out linen and clean the bedpans in the hopper (no, you do not want to know what a hopper is, trust me, you're blessed)
· And hold the patient's hands during procedures. That was the first of many fainting spells I had there. I was holding a girl’s hand (same age as myself) who had a broken leg, up in weighted traction with pins in her thigh and the residents adjusted the pins at the bedside. (No, that is not done at bedside now thank you very much) By which I mean the existing pins came out of her thigh and new ones went into her thigh, no pain meds, no local, nada, zip, nothing. Whew, that poor, brave girl.
The bedpans were metal, heavy and extremely difficult to keep clean and sweet smelling which was an absolute MUST according to my mentor, the head nurse on the third floor.
When I graduated from high school I entered the school of nursing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham where I obtained my Bachelors in Nursing. I was informed that very first quarter by my guidance counselor that I would now be "allowed to"
· Work thirty-two hours a week at the University Hospital for $0.75/hour as a student nurse on any section of my choosing
· These hours could not be during any of my school hours if those school hours were over ten hours in one day. Because my weekdays were all long days, Monday through Friday, as a student nurse job I worked from Friday night after class to 1500 hours on Saturday(16-18 hours), then 2300 hours Saturday night to 0700 hours Sunday (8 hours). I loved Sundays. Slept until 1500 hours, momma would wake me up, I would study at the table while Momma cooked, had supper with everybody, study a little more, go back to the hospital by 2300 hours Sunday night and when I got off at 0700 Monday morning (8 hours) I went back to class and the week started all over again.
· As a student nurse my choice was high risk labor and delivery, women's oncology, well baby nursery, postpartum and high risk nursery. I gave baths, passed trays, fed, changed and repositioned the adult patients, held women’s hands during childbirth, played in the well baby nursery (yes that is all it was, just playing), assisted the nurse on oncology with med surg cancer patients, held patients during wound care, held hands during deaths, cried and prayed with the families at deaths.
· But it was high risk nursery I really loved. No one knew if you were a student except the nurses and they were our teachers and watching us like hawks to boot! But that was some wonderful learning! It was also the first time I was ever called on the carpet.
· OK Peanut Gallery I hear you guys! No, it was not the last time! There! Satisfied? :( See now you've gone and made the ole nurse cry! Don't you feel BAD?
OK here goes: It's the early 1970's, University Hospital in Birmingham is the number one high risk OB-GYN hospital in the Southeast, I am just a student nurse but in the nursery we all wear scrubs. Because I have been OK'D by the head nurse to actually touch one of their preemies I have one, just one little head, to care for and the head nurse has me sandwiched in between two very sharp nurses with their preemies. In essence, both of those nurses were responsible for all of my actions. Gracious they were hard on me too! And rightly so! As any NICU nurse will tell you, they get extremely attached to their babies and do not tolerate fools. I was even worse. I wasn't even a nurse yet and I was so possessive! I was also very smart! All you had to do was ask me, I’d tell you I knew everything! Remember Samuel Clements talking about his Father? Poor thing was clueless when Samuel started college but it was amazing how smart his Father was when Samuel graduated from college!
One night this resident was trying to obtain an ABG (arterial blood gas) on my preemie and he couldn't hit the artery; he kept poking and turning the little wrist and pulling on his baby arm and leaning all over the baby and finally I lost it! After about the sixth stick I said, "Let me do it!" I guess my attitude was all over my face and tone of voice plus the resident had probably only slept thirty minutes in the last thirty hours or so and he said "Go Ahead!"
It would have been fine if I had just missed the blood draw. It may have been fine if I hadn't smiled and yelled Ta-Da when I held up the syringe full of bright red blood on the first stick without any probing! I know it wouldn't have landed me in the director of nurse’s office for the OB-GYN department if the other nurses hadn't laughed and rubbed that resident’s nose in the fact that he was shown up by a student nurse. It really would have been fine if I had just taken my lecture and been done with it but NO! I had to try and convince the DON (Director of Nursing) that I knew what I was doing more than that resident did!
It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you. cry, cry, sob, sob, tears, tears
Still makes me grin with conceit whenever I think about it!
This is just one of many fond memories I have of my days as a student nurse. What are some of you memories of your own college days?