Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm Surprised Her Head Fit Through Her Shirt

No, this is not about a patient, but rather a nursing student whose ego flared like the sun.

Yesterday was the day we all got to practice our vital sign skills on...drumroll please...the nursing students who are a year ahead of us!

My partner and I kinda looked at each other, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: "Please don't let us get the egocentric snobby girl."

I don't need to tell you, I'm sure, about how all of our wishes did not come true. As soon as she sat down, we could immediately see she wanted nothing to do with us. Perhaps we were lowly scum, and having her precious arm in our dirty blood pressure cuff was sickening her. (By the way, our cuffs are not dirty. Just thought I'd clarify:) We introduced ourselves like civilized ladies and thanked her for her time.

My partner put the cuff on her, and began the procedure as we were taught, as it is in the book, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Um, what are you doing?"

"I'm taking your blood pressure," my partner replied as steam began to rise from her ears.

Then she laughed at my partner. "Ok. Why are you doing it that way?"

"Because this is how we were taught. This is what's in the book."

"Yeah, well, you can't take blood pressure that way because..." (and here she explained why we should not take blood pressure this way. And I wanted to chuckle privately as I thought about saying to her My God. It's utter rediculousness that someone with intelligence of your obvious magnitude is still in school, and not writing text books like the veteran RN-MSN-PHN who wrote ours.)

Instead, I said, "I understand that. But we were told to go by the book. This was what our instructor wanted us to do, and if he caught us in clinicals doing it otherwise, we would get marked for that. So, you understand why we do it this way?"

She continued to chuckle, belittle, and have attitude. So, I thought maybe it was a kind of test to see how we handled that, but as I looked around and listened, every other student in her class was smiling and helping.

Then she got up, and the "good-cop" sat down, and she was the sweetest woman. She smiled, encouraged, spoke to us like the adults we are (and by the way, I am almost 30. Miss attitude had to be younger than me...just a side note :). And it was like night and day!

The point of this story is not only what makes a good nurse, but what makes a good person?

When you work your way through the boot camp that is nursing school, you have every reason to be proud of yourself. But pride should never be substituted for humbleness.

Your patient's are not going to care how many tests you aced, nor will they care how many big medical words you know when their collar bone is sticking out of their neck and they just want it back where it belongs and some serious pain meds. And the uniform or scrubs you wear with authority wont mean anything to the woman whose mother is dying. What they should say is "I'm here, and I care, and I will do what I can."

Looking back on yesterday, I realized I was not completely innocent. My thoughts about that nursing student were not ones of humbleness and humility (maybe that test she just took was draining; maybe her pet turtle just retreated into his shell for the last time) or whatever. Point is, you never know what's going on in someone's life.

It's a fine line between pride and humbleness that a nurse must walk. The good ones are the ones who find the balance.


  1. Lovely post, Jess. I agree.
    Sometimes, those people who think they are so much better than you are just a nightmare. You'd think they never went through the exact same kind of things you did. You can't help wondering how THEY'D feel if they were in your position and you were the one laughing at them.
    Congratulations on your stick-to-it attitude. :-)

  2. You know what Cat Lady? You're right, I think she forgot what it was like to be new to this. Well, thanks for the "congarats" LOL :p I miss the WR! Can you tell?

  3. You Jessica have a wonderful head on your shoulder! Yes, we do have to humble ourselves at times, as is true, we will meet up with numerous people who have no idea how to treat others in life. God gives us opportunities to influence the lives of others in a positive way, and who knows we may alter that "high almighty" attitude, or less than greatful personality! I have always said in nursing, its not the grades you made, it is, "the compassion that you display" that makes a "real nurse"! Cohleen

  4. Jess! I have wondered how you are getting on in nursing. Writing and student-nursing unite. Cool. I don't think big-head was going through anything, I just think she is a jerk. A kind nurse is worth his or her weight in gold, I tell ya. Love the title of this blog. Hahaha!