My time here in Rochester is winding down, but I’m still trying to take advantage of everything I can. I am going to miss the staff on my unit and my fellow externs so much when it’s time to head home. This experience has really developed not only my nursing skills, but my character as well. Going so far from home was a step outside my comfort zone, but it forced me to fully embrace my opportunity here.
One of the things I love about working in the hospital consistently is seeing the nursing process come full circle. I have worked with several patients from their admissions to the unit, throughout their recoveries, and all the way to discharge. Before I came to Mayo Clinic, I was not very familiar with admission/discharge protocol. Though the details vary by institution, these processes universally include lots of communication and behind the scenes work by nurses. For example, before an incoming patient even gets to the unit, our nurses must get the report from PACU, set up the patient’s room, and introduce themselves to family/friends who are waiting for the patient to arrive. Discharge protocol includes documenting education, faxing paperwork/giving report to the receiving facilities, and ensuring prescriptions have been sent to the pharmacy. This was a good reminder of the many different roles that nurses play in addition to the caregiver aspect of the job.
My unit has also set the bar high in terms of a healthy work environment. I touched last week on the many ways in which nurses are taken care of at Mayo Clinic, but the staff members themselves are equally high in caliber. The teamwork and collaboration that I’ve witnessed on my unit made me realize how important it is having good coworkers. Everybody is always lending a helping hand, whether it’s answering a call light for another nurse, helping families carry their luggage down the hall, or making a coffee run for the unit. That kind of positivity is one of the things I will search for when I begin looking for my first job. I’ve also personally observed how welcoming this unit is to new staff. I’ve heard that it’s common for new nurses to be somewhat bullied by older, more experienced nurses, but it’s quite the opposite on my floor. Nurses are asking each other all the time for their opinion or for help with equipment or a procedure. Working in an environment that makes nurses feel comfortable asking questions if they are unsure of something is incredibly valuable.
During this 10-week externship, the program coordinators arranged for us to have three observation days on other units. I’m excited to say I finally had my first one this past Wednesday. I got to spend a half-day in the Labor and Delivery unit of the Family Birth Center. I just completed my maternity rotation this past semester at school, so it was interesting to compare my two experiences. At the very beginning of the day, I got to see an epidural placed. The patient spoke Arabic, so we used translation services on an iPad to communicate with the patient and her family. I had seen this used at Seton a lot during my rotation because many of the patients spoke only Spanish. It was a little slow in the morning, but the nurse I was paired with reviewed the maternal and fetal monitor strips with me which was great practice. Later that morning, I got to observe a C-section delivery. The doctor assisting with the surgery was in training; it was really neat to see because her senior consultant was guiding her through the process so I got a step-by-step explanation of the surgical technique for a C-section. The baby was a beautiful, healthy little boy.
When I’m not in the hospital, I like to spend my time outside. A couple weeks ago, I thought the weather couldn’t get any nicer, but I stand corrected. These past couple days the temperature has been mid-70s and sunny. I’ve been going on walks with my roommate after work and we’ve explored a lot of Rochester’s suburbs this way (there are some beautiful homes!). A couple weekends ago, a friend and I ventured out to Winona, Minn., which is about an hour away from Rochester. There, they have an annual Shakespeare festival hosted by Winona State University. We stopped at a drive-in restaurant on our way and sat on the lawn for a free concert before the play. We saw a Midsummer Night’s Dream; I read it a long time ago but it was fun to see it come to life. I also spend a lot of time on the terrace at our apartment. It’s on the third floor of the building and it overlooks some of the city. It’s a perfect place to read a book or have dinner and relax in the evenings.
It’s crazy to think the end is so close. I have to start thinking about cleaning up the apartment, packing my car, and saying goodbye to everyone. I do have my birthday coming up this weekend, so it’ll be a perfect opportunity for a last hurrah with everybody before we all head out!