My first clinical experience was everything I thought it was going to be and more. The first day i remember being very nervous. Not knowing what to expect, or how the staff at the place will treat you is very nerve racking. After the first week we were there we got into the swing of things and felt very comfortable. The first day we were just following are Health Care Assistants (as there are only 2 LPNs working at a time), and watch what they did. Day 2 we got to assist them in the AM care and day 3 we were doing it all by ourselves. We got assigned 3 residents that we had to provide care to all day. We had to get them up in the morning: dressing them, washing them and toileting and then we had to toilet and put down for naps accordingly throughout the day. Once I got into the swing and routines of the facility I was in, I felt comfortable in being independent and doing everything by myself.
A student on their first clinical is doing everything we learned in lab. We are doing mostly Care Aid jobs (bed baths, perineal care, dressing, using lifts, bowel care, therapeutic relationships) as well an incorporating some assessments (head to toe assessments, QPA, vital signs). Everything we learned in the lab at school we were doing out on practicum. Doing your first suppository or enema is something you will never forget. You have your instructor there with you while doing it. Making sure the patient doesn’t see your nervousness and keeping calm is something you have to learn to do.
What I didn’t feel prepared for was experiencing a patient pass away. I don’t think there really is a way to prepare yourself for someone’s passing for the first time. I remember when the nurses told us at morning report that the client was in palliative care now. We went for lunch for 1 hour and when we came back she was gone. That was the scariest. Just how fast someone can go from breathing and alive, to now laying there without any life. We got the privilege (if you could call it that) to go into her room and watch the process of a dead body. We got to experience the body going from warm to cold, as well as helping clean her and provide the postmortem care. Our teacher brought us to the morgue at Langley Memorial. It was much smaller than what I thought it was going to be, but looked just like it did on TV.
My first clinical experience was so good and we created so many memories with the staff, and the residents themselves. It was very hard not to get attached to them as you see and talk with them every single day. You are the hi light and stimulation in their life so having to say goodbye was really hard. After this first experience I now know that nursing is the right career for me. You have to be compassionate about what you do because this job is going to be not only physically exhausting but also mentally as well. Im excited to learn more skills and do them on second practicum in the hospital setting!