6. Tales of a Student Nurse: Basic Nursing Skills

Mrs. Hitz gets an injection from our classmate

And so it went: accompanying each academic course the Student Nurse learned one or more basic nursing skills by practicing on her fellow classmate ‘patient’. I don’t recall another incident in which a student was required to demonstrate her skill on an Instructor. Perhaps in the incident above, there wasn’t an equal number of student pairs and Karen had to have an Instructor as her partner. In year two, when skills were no longer basic but intermediate or even advanced, certain skills were not appropriate for role play teaching methods. The indelicacy of a procedure such as insertion of an indwelling urinary catheter, warranted the use of mannequins for practice. We students all appreciated this concession. The photo below shows Mrs. Hitz demonstrating this particular skill on a mannequin.

Mrs. Hitz inserting a catheter

Mrs. Hitz inserting a catheter

Undoubtedly, the Director realized our eagerness to work with a patient and so during the weeks before we had any skills to use on a patient, we were given the opportunity to go to the hospital units to interview patients. Oh, how excited we were. Without the uniforms we waited for, we each donned a lab coat and our ugly black oxfords and proceeded to the unit to visit our assigned patients. My patient was Mr. J, a senior gentleman who was to be discharged the next day. I no longer remember what the interview entailed, but a few days later a bouquet of carnations from Mr. J was delivered to me at the residence. What a kind, generous and unforgettable gesture that was. Maybe Mr. J had seen a very young, naive student with dreams of a wonderful career and he wanted to encourage me in my pursuits. Those flowers were the first, but not the last, act of kindness I ever received from a patient over the course of my career.

Barbara Tiessen is a retired RN who lives with her husband in southwestern Ontario but winters in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She researched her genealogy, wrote and self published The Schoenfeld Russlaender: A Mennonite Family's History in 2015. More recently her interest have focused on writing short stories.
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