This week marks the one year anniversary of my Cardiology Technologist student blog. I’ve enjoyed sharing my college experiences with you over the past twelve months but unfortunately my blogging days are numbered. I’ve now completed 10/12 weeks of my practicum at the Kelowna General Hospital and that means that in a mere two weeks, I’ll receive my diploma and will be a Stenberg grad! Somehow I’ve managed to find the time to squeeze in enough blog entries for you to read about each week during my practicum, so I’d like to continue on with where I left off in my last entry.
In total my preceptor scheduled me for four weeks of working in the RACE Clinic running Stress Tests. I worked my first two weeks of treadmills in January so I returned there again in February during week eight and nine. It was nice to return to an area of the Cardiology Department that I already had experience in and didn’t need to go through more training. I was already familiar with the protocols and equipment so this time around I was able to focus more on the patients. It also felt good to not have to wait for someone to give me a job to do, but to be able to notice the work myself and take initiative and get it done without being asked. I gained a lot more confidence in my Stress Testing skills during my final weeks in the RACE Clinic and hopefully one day I will return as an employee. When we learned about Stress Testing in class, we only had to complete 20 in order to pass the course. Well guess how many I did while on my practicum? 125! That’s quite a lot considering each patient takes at least half an hour and the average at KGH is 8-10 Stress Tests per tech per day.
One of the beautiful things about working in a large busy hospital, is that everyone works together. Cardio tech’s typically work alone, so the majority of the other staff they encounter throughout the day are nurses or other technologist’s from different professions. You don’t often know the other staff member but you work together as a team anyway and that’s something that I love about working in health care. If you’re having difficulty with your patient, ask for help and chances are someone will be more then willing to lend a hand. Mention that you’re a student on practicum and chances are someone will offer to teach you something. I was already fortunate enough to spend a day in Nuclear Medicine, but now I’ve also spent a day in the Cath Lab! It was by far one of the most exciting and informative days on my practicum. The nurses invited me in without even having to ask and I was able to watch 5 Angiograms (most of which needed immediate stents placed). One of the patients was flown in by helicopter from a different city after having a massive heart attack. If someone’s heart has undergone an injury or infarction, there are subtle changes that occur in their ECG. In school we learned how to detect and interpret these changes, but in the Cath Lab I saw with my own eyes how they happen. I watched the ECG rhythm change as I watched the Cardiologist feed the catheter through the different chambers of the heart. As a Cardio Tech student this was extremely interesting to me and it gave me a better understanding of why those changes occur.
For those of you who are considering taking this program, I definitely recommend selecting practicum sites that have a Cath Lab if you can. You can only learn so much about the heart from a textbook, but it’s another thing to actually see invasive procedures done right in front of you. From the beginning I’ve been embracing my practicum experience and trying to learn and see as many things as I possibly can. I’m looking forward to wrapping up my time as a student and moving forward with my career.