I took my students to the hospital today and cut them loose to shadow nurses for the day and glean what they could glean from the experience. I spent the time reading some research articles related to my project and gleaning language that can be used in my project revision.
I scheduled individual appointments with each student over the course of the morning, and they came down to see me. I don't have an office at the hospital, or anyplace, really, to meet with them, so if the weather is good I see them out in the garden, and if not, in the cafeteria. The weather was good for most of the morning, and then it got hot.
I ask them about how their day is going so far, and about the nurse they are shadowing. I review the sheets they fill out about their study habits, and ask about whether they work, and what they did before nursing school. It's a process--I gently dig deeper and deeper to see what motivates them, what obstacles they face, what their fears are.
It's therapeutic communication. We teach it to the students and they try to use it, mostly in Psych. You listen, and they sound so stilted and awkward. I tell them that eventually you will find the words that make it sound like a normal conversation, and that you will get comfortable with it. Like I have.
I spend about 10 minutes with each student, and learn so much about each of them. My final question is always, "Is there anything else about you that you think I should know?" I say it almost dismissively, as if it doesn't really matter, but it does, and they almost always tell me something that gives me an insight into who they are and what they are dealing with. Today was no exception.
I have written about the first day of clinical in my journals many times before, and have almost always had some sort of feeling about the responsibility I was undertaking with each of the groups I have guided through their last semester. I am relieved to know that I still feel the weight of that responsibility.