By. Taylor Moulton
I have only been at Mayo Clinic for two weeks, but I can already tell this summer will be quite the adventure. I have to admit, when I first got the offer to work as a Summer III Nurse Extern for Mayo Clinic, I was a bit ambivalent. I was offered a position on a post-operative orthopedics unit, a specialty in which I had little experience at the time. Additionally, I have lived in Texas for most of my life, and the thought of traveling all the way up to Minnesota and working with an internationally renowned hospital for the summer was intimidating to say the least. I relied on family, friends, and several mentors at UT School of Nursing for words of wisdom regarding this opportunity. Eventually, I decided to take a step outside my comfort zone and accept the position with Mayo Clinic. Since my arrival, I have been thoroughly impressed with the grace, professionalism, and commitment to patient care that Mayo Clinic embodies.
The mere move to Rochester, Minnesota was a journey within itself. I decided to drive to Rochester instead of fly, and I am so grateful to my family for making the 17-hour drive with me! We split it up into two days to make it more bearable. We got to pass through several states I had never been through before, and we made pit stops at some wonderful restaurants along the way. If you happen to be in St. Louis, Missouri, I highly recommend Pappy’s Smokehouse; the ribs are fantastic! Rochester was nothing like I expected it to be. Coming from Austin, I am used to traffic and crowds in downtown areas, but Rochester is much smaller and quainter. Restaurant patios line the streets, lights are strung up throughout the city, and skywalks connect nearly all of the buildings together.
Mayo Clinic arranged housing for the nurse externs at an apartment complex in the downtown area, which makes it so convenient to walk to work and explore the town. I was assigned two random roommates who are also nurse externs. Even though I have only been living with them for two weeks, it feels like much longer. We get along very well, and I already know that we will keep in touch long after this program ends. After our shifts, we gather in the living room and learn about each other’s days. It is really interesting to compare and contrast our different work environments, since each of us works on a different unit. We have also taken some time on our days off to explore Rochester, whether it is trying new restaurants, attending a weekly summer festival held in the downtown area, or relaxing at a Rochester Honkers minor league baseball game. The town has so much to offer, and I am excited to learn more about it in my coming weeks here.
On my first day of orientation, I quickly gained an appreciation of the organization and thoughtfulness that went into coordinating this program. I learned a lot about Mayo Clinic’s history, founders, and core values that have revolutionized Mayo’s approach to care, setting it apart from the rest. After several days of orientation and skills check-offs, it was finally time to go on my unit. I was extremely nervous, but also excited to start forming relationships with staff/patients and developing my nursing skills. All of the staff on the unit are so welcoming and attentive; they made me feel like a valued member of the healthcare team even though I was new. Every day I am paired with a Registered Nurse Clinical Coach (RNCC), and together, we work through our patient assignments. Orthopedics is a complex specialty because you have to be somewhat familiar with the surgical aspect of the primary diagnosis as well as the medical side. On our floor, we typically take care of patients receiving elective orthopedic procedures; some of the most common include hip replacements, knee replacements and shoulder replacements. Our floor also tailors its care to patients needing joint revision surgeries for procedures that have failed in the past or patients whose joint prosthetics become infected.
As a nurse extern, I try to help out wherever and whenever I can. This includes tasks such as monitoring vitals (especially on new admits), assisting with assessments, helping the patient ambulate, educating the patient and family, removing IVs and catheters prior to discharge, and working as part of an interdisciplinary treatment team. Though I am excited to be able to practice these nursing techniques, one of the skills that I have improved the most on is patient communication. Because a majority of the patients we see had procedures done electively, they are some of the most motivated individuals I have ever worked with. These are often people who have been in chronic pain for months or years and have come to Mayo Clinic looking for hope in the form of pain relief and improved mobility. These patients usually push themselves whether it be with the nurse, occupational therapist or physical therapist. An important part of my job is providing reassurance and encouragement to these patients as they navigate the road to recovery. It is wonderful to have conversations with them about what lead them to Mayo Clinic, what motivates them, and what they look forward to accomplishing when they leave.
My first two weeks at Mayo Clinic have been hectic, no doubt; however, I feel that in my two weeks here I have already started to see what makes this place so special. It is a privilege to be working with Mayo for the summer, and I look forward to sharing my future experiences here in Rochester.