The last two weeks have seemed like two months... It's not that being back is a bad thing at all, but I have honestly been so busy, I haven't had time to catch my breath. On the two days I don't have classes, which should really be three, I try to fit in as many clinical hours as I can. Normal senior nursing students have two days of classes and three days off, but for me because I am doing Air Force ROTC I have time taken away on Thursdays so my scheduling is a little more difficult. It works out that on Thursdays I can do the elementary school clinical because it convienently ends before I have class. It is definitely a learning experience to coordinate with my two preceptors when my shifts will take place.
SO... I will start by describing to you my first clinical at the VA and more about that. The course that is associated with the VA practicum is called "Coordinator of Care." In this course we review all the nursing subjects to prepare us for our board exam (NCLEX). This class entails student taught lectures on subjects the presenter is "weak" on. Our professor figured this out by evaluating a practice NCLEX exam we all took last semester. This pointed out weak spots on nursing material we will need to know. For example, one of my weak subjects was on the genitourinary system, in a few weeks I will be doing a class lecture on aspects of this system. I find the best way to learn is to teach others. This will hopefully result in a better understanding and confidence on this system. For class assignments other than the lecture, we are personally responsible to take practice questions, again preparing us for the NCLEX.
For our practicum, we work directly with an RN providing patient care, administering medications, and learning the ins and outs of daily nursing tasks. I will use the words 'clinical' and 'practicum' interchangably. Basically clinical is at a health care location where learning takes place with patients, students, and a Norwich instructer. One location normally has about five or six students to one instructor per day. Practicum is a focus for seniors who work individually (the only student) with one RN preceptor. Practicum really allows seniors to get that close interactions with patients as a true nurse would get, whereas in clinical since there are multiple students the preceptor is with, you'll loose out on some opportunities. For when I reference clinical, it is simply just the same as practicum in my case.
Monday was my first day at the VA ICU. It was a great day. I had one patient with my nurse. In critical care it is rare that a nurse will have more than two patients. I definitely learned a lot. One thing I know is a weakness of mine is medication administration and medication knowledge. My preceptor is really good about quizing me on the spot, which definitely helps me to memorize different medications, their side effects, and why the patient is taking them.
My next shift is on Saturday this weekend. I need to do at least 12 hours a week to complete all my hours by the end of the semester. Needless to say even though it's on a Saturday I am looking forward to it.
Have a great day!