It’s official – I’ve passed the halfway mark for this program! Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday my family helped me move into my apartment and said goodbye as they headed back home for Texas. It has been another eventful two weeks here in Rochester, both from a work and social stand point. With this additional experience under my belt, I really feel myself coming into my own on the unit. The goal for the Summer III extern is to gradually take on more nursing responsibility as she/he goes. When they explained this to us in orientation, I was really nervous. I didn’t feel like I was ready or knowledgeable enough to take on such a level of accountability; but it really does come with time. When I first started working on the unit, I was afraid to even move the patients! They had just come back from a major orthopedic surgery and the surgical limb was often very weak and had limited movement. I was worried about dislocating their new joint or the patient falling. Now, after seeing my nurse, physical therapists and occupational therapists work with the patients, I understand the different methods and guidelines for moving patients post orthopedic surgery.
One new skill that I’ve been working on is patient education. Because I am not a Registered Nurse, it is not within my scope of practice to provide the patient with new information, but I can reinforce and review it. All of my clinical coaches have done a wonderful job of providing bits and pieces of patient education throughout the course of the patient’s stay. I’ve learned that doing it in little chunks like that is an effective method to use, because most patients won’t fully absorb everything if it’s presented all at once. Between coming off anesthesia, taking narcotic pain medications, and being in an unfamiliar environment, it’s completely understandable and expected that patients may feel a little disoriented at times. That’s why reinforcing education becomes so important. At the end of the patient’s stay we print out a discharge summary, which explains what they had done and highlights key education points that we talked about during the stay. In the past couple of weeks, I have begun to take over the task of reviewing this information with the patient. It’s our job as nurses to make sure the patient feels confident and comfortable about what to do when they get back home. I like to use the teach back method with patients, especially for critical information such as signs and symptoms of infection or blood clots. This is also where turning your nursing lingo into words that the patient can understand comes into play.
As I’ve grown more comfortable on my unit, I’ve also had time to observe the overall work environment and talk with other nurses about why they came to work at Mayo Clinic. One thing’s clear: Mayo takes care of its employees. All nurses, whether they’re working the 8 or 12 hour shift, get paired with a “break buddy” at the beginning of the day. This way, you have someone automatically assigned to help watch over your patients while you go take a 30 or 45 minute lunch break. I thought this was a great idea, because so many nurses hardly ever get the chance to have a drink of water or use the bathroom, much less sit down for a quick meal. I’ve also been impressed with the longevity of nursing careers on my floor. I often ask other nurses how long they’ve worked at Mayo and about other hospitals or units they worked on in the past. A majority of them came straight to Mayo fresh out of nursing school, were hired onto this orthopedics floor and haven’t left since. Some of the nurses have worked there for over 40 years! To me, that’s a testimony that Mayo is doing something right.
I came across the following quote/article the other day on Facebook, and I really believe it to be true – “Each person in Rochester is a potential touch point for a person receiving care at Mayo. This they seem to know, feel pride in, and respond to.” Dr. Gary David, a sociologist who visited the area, made this comment and went on to write a whole piece about the energy flowing through the city). The entire existence of Rochester revolves around Mayo Clinic. Most of the people that live in the area are, in some shape or form, affiliated with the Mayo system; and most of the remaining people are patients. The whole community centers around health and well-being. The people of Rochester carry on with their work proudly, yet humbly; and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
The weather was astounding these last two weeks so I tried my best to take advantage of outdoor activities on my time off. Fourth of July was a lot of fun. One of my intern friends (whose family lives in Rochester) invited us over to her house for yard games and a cookout. Afterwards, we walked downtown to watch the city’s firework display. I’ve always spent Fourth of July with my family, and we usually go out to the country to celebrate, so it was nice to change it up and take part in the city celebrations. I also went hiking at Quarry Hill, a nature preserve about 10 minutes outside of Rochester. Limestone extraction used to be a huge industry for Rochester a while ago. Throughout the trails, there were historical sites and explanations that helped shed some appreciation on Rochester’s past. My friend and I also took to exploring Silver Lake Park one afternoon. It is located just minutes from downtown and has places to rent kayaks, bikes, and pedal boats. We took kayaks out for an hour or so and paddled out to the quieter parts of the lake. Afterwards we had a picnic at the park. I also got the chance to try a local restaurant, Canadian Honker, which I highly recommend. People in Minnesota always talk about walleye, and I finally got to try it at Canadian Honker! It’s a mild, white fish which was battered and fried and made into a sandwich. One of the best meals I’ve had in a while!
The longer I stay here, the more I appreciate the town of Rochester. It’s got great food, wonderful people, and lots of community activities, not to mention a fantastic healthcare system! I will definitely be sad to leave this place come August, but I am excited to start my senior year of nursing school.