Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Best Teachers (RS: third year)

Bradford Woods, Weekend 1

As part of my Community Health Practicum, I am able attend camp sessions at Bradford Woods for two weekends during this semester. Last weekend was my first experience, and I have another one coming up in February. My time last weekend at Bradford Woods working with adults with disabilities was hands-down the best clinical experience I have had. Before meeting the campers, we were told not to focus on the disability but rather on the person. To keep us from focusing on the diagnoses of the campers, we were not given any information about their disabilities beforehand. This was much different than my typical clinical experiences at the hospital. 

Normally, the nursing students go to the hospital the night before clinical to select patients and to look up their medical records. We then spend the evening learning about our selected patients’ medications and reading important information about their conditions in an attempt to prepare for our clinical day.  My experience at Bradford Woods could not have been more different. With no way of preparing for the weekend or knowing what to expect, I was very anxious. However, taking the “unprepared” approach to this clinical experience taught me invaluable lessons that I will carry with me throughout my career as a nurse.

Because I spent the entire weekend working with the campers in a non-medical environment, I saw past their disabilities and really got to know them as unique and capable individuals with lives of their own. I learned about their interests, their families, and their daily lives. The most important lesson I learned from them is how to listen. I've gotten so used to treating patients and planning their care based on what I have read in textbooks and have practiced on mannequins. That approach did not work so well with my campers. 

They frequently corrected me when I was helping them and instructed me to do things certain ways. Right away, I accepted the fact that I needed to help them on their terms, not on mine. After all, they are the ones who have lived with their disabilities their whole lives. They certainly know more about their care than I do! As they say, our best teachers are oftentimes our patients. That is one of the most significant lessons I have learned while in nursing school. o time at Bradford Woods working with adults with disabilities was hands-down the best clinical experience I have had.

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