Thursday, January 15, 2009

At Least She Didn't Lock Herself In the Bathroom.

I remember my first day of clinicals when I was a Respiratory student many, many moons ago. My friend Brandi and were clinical partners and we were at a local hospital together. This was the first time I had ever been inside a hospital before and we were both very nervous. We arrived with our crisp white scrubs (required to set us apart as students) and shiny new stethoscopes fresh from their cases. We weren't really even allowed to do anything that first day and every thing was a culture shock. Brandi and I had only been in the building for 30 minutes and were just finishing up a tour of the department when we heard the dreaded words Code Blue over the paging system. We looked at each other our eyes widening, our eager smiles being replaced by ones of fear. Surely, we wouldn't have to go to the code.... not on our first day? Our instructor ushered us out the door, into the elevator, and down the hall until we reached the room where the code was happening. I got to ambu bag the patient while Brandi did compressions. The guy was blue and did not survive the code. I was in shock. I'd never seen a dead body before. I'd been to wakes, but never wanted to go up to see the bodies. Curiosity took over. I poked his cheek. And then his shoulder. It was surreal. Brandi became very upset and locked herself in the bathroom while she cried. It took me a while to coax her out. It was a little overwhelming for us to have to perform CPR within the first 30 minutes of our very first day.
I tried to remember this today as my new set of students start their very first clinicals. I teach groups from two different Respiratory schools. One of the schools started today and the other starts tomorrow. When the student arrived this morning, I wasn't sure what we were going to do. I planned a hospital tour, but other than that had nothing else going on. I didn't want to freak her out. At least that was the plan. She got to see pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases, ventilators, a car accident, and a premature baby that we had to place on an oscillator. We had a busy day.
I hope she comes back tomorrow.


Mimi's Toes said...

You have a very stressful job and it takes a special person to be able to handle what you go thru. I probably would do what she did too. Thanks for being that person who works so hard to revive my family member, friend, child. I appreciate what you do, in case you haven't been told lately!

My Wonderful Men said...

I remember working in the hospital and being involed in my first code blue. The orders came over the machine and it's a feeling you can't even explain you just do what you do with out even thinking. I remember when it was all over looking at the time on the order sheet and the time on the clock to document everything and thinking how did I pull everything I needed and run to the ER that fast???

Your on the front line of it all so you know that feeling even better than I. I'm glad you continued on with it. I know you're a blessing to your student and patients each and every day.

Linda said...

Lucky me. All my codes have survived so far. I'm a retired attorney, due to graduate this June, and working RT on a limited permit at a metropolitan hospital while I finish my degree and licensure. In lay ministry, I had seen my share of dead people, but it wasn't til recently that I had a patient die under my hands. Came in to give a treatment to a lung met patient who had been stable first rounds. While I was setting up the aerosol his wife said, "his breathing has been really irregular -- will you check it?" I said, "of course, that's what I'm here to do". One breath, then nothing. No heart sounds. The patient was DNR. The wife said to me, "do you think he has died?". I said, "yes, I think so, but let's confirm it correctly". I walked to the nurses' station and said, "I know what to do when I'm supposed to resuss a patient, but what would you like me to do for this man who is DNR?" The nurse and I trotted back to the room, and the nurse removed the equipment. I asked the wife if she would like one of us to stay with her while we called the doc to pronounce her husband, but she said, "no, I'd like to be alone with him for a minute". As I left the room, she put her arms around him and began to cry. My next treatment was the hardest one I've ever done.

Anonymous said...

It truly amazes me how all healthcare professionals can vividly remember their 'first day' and the implications it has on their current practice.
You're students are lucky.
Thanks for sharing.