Brett Rossi : In My Skin
Signs & Symptoms of a Rookie
I find it easier to set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than I normally get up each morning for school so I can have my usual internal conflict and temper tantrum with myself. After 30 minutes of getting it out of my system I drag my ass to class. My hair is slicked back neatly into a bun and I try my hardest not to spill anything on my uniform from point A to B.This day was one of the harder days. The days my internal temper tantrums and trying to talk myself out of school 'fits' with myself seemed to last longer than my usual 30 minutes.
It was the other day.I was standing in the hospital hallway. I had an epiphany. Slightly dazed and likely confused, I stood there. My eyes were heavy this day and I knew they would be considering I was up late the evening before romping around later than I should have been when I knowingly knew I was doing an 8 hour at the hospital early the next day. This could have contributed to my lengthy 'fit' with myself earlier that morning. I noticed I had spilled my instant coffee that I brewed in the dark earlier that morning on my white uniform. "Damnit" I grumbled. I was already annoyed by the day and the thought of my fluffy comfortable bed sounded so good it was making me sick. I was posted up next to the nurses station. I hold my composure very well when I'm nervous or tired or both. I'm always nervous and lately I've seemed to always be tired when I'm here. I don't want to make a mistake.
I'm asking myself, "Now what?" as I'm trying to continue looking busy so my clinical instructor doesn't become the next Queen of Hearts from my favorite Disney movie, Alice in Wonderland. I could picture her long white lab coat that seemed to swallow her whole turn into the red poofy dress with frilly little hearts as she screams, "OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!" while pounding her croquet mallet on the ground all because her roses were not painted red. I start adjusting my shoe laces. Then on to fidgeting with my penlight. I'm sure it still works, I just checked it 5 minutes ago. I find entertainment mumbling medical terminology in between. I'm trying to look and act important. You know, fit in. I flip through my patient charts. I can hear the click-click,buzz-buzz of the call lights go off behind the nurses station I was so conveniently posted next to. I stared at the lights as they flickered and flashed while mouthing the room numbers in order to memorize which lights were going off.The call lights are my favorite and I couldn't tell you why. They just are. I frantically rush down the long hallways to each room that has a dimly lit light bulb above the door and once I approach it I adjust my uniform while making sure mystethoscope is still slung around my neck all professionally looking. I confidently knock before I enter the room and deliver my BIG line, "What can I do to help you Mr/Ms Jones?" The majority of the time, I don't have the answer they are looking for and if I do it's not the response they were hoping to hear and when I reset the call light and leave their room they will likely press it again in hopes to get a different nurse.
All the staff members at the hospital can point out a rookie, I'm one of the rookies. You know, 'nurses in training'.Watching each student run through the halls frantically trying to take care of each of their assigned patients while also trying to keep up with their assigned nurse for the day is a comical sight to see, I'm almost certain our assigned nurses ditch us on purpose and leave us to figure out how to accomplish the work load on our own. Wide eyed, slightly intimidated, yet full of eagernessto learn. Those are the signs & symptoms of a rookie. Sometimes, you find a rookie hiding in the corner or a random utility closet wiping her eyes quickly and waving her hands fiercely in front of her face as if this motion will tell her eyes to stop crying. You can not cry, at least in front of people. She probably got attached to a patient who expired or witnessed a family say their last set of goodbyes. It happens because we are rookies. The confirming questions and slightly timid movements before simple interactions with patients; signs & symptoms of a rookie also.
I expressed to my assigned nurse if she has become desensitized. Was she no longer scared of making a mistake? Did she no longer have the ability the empathize with her patients? She cocked her head and looked at me as if I were speaking a different language. I assumed I needed to elaborate. I told her I never wanted to be. I wanted to scream and shout and tell the entire staff that I refuse to become desensitized. This is a fear of mine. If I had to pick one fear, that was my fear. I've never had the ability to ever desensitize anything in my life, but I am scared that eventually this plaque that has seemed to take over everyone will come to me eventually. I told her if there is any aspect in my life that I could choose to never become desensitized it would be these moments, inside these walls, helping save these lives. She looked at me and said,
"And that is why you are meant to be a nurse".
As my shift ended and I walked out to my car, I thought about the decisions I'm making to get me to my ultimate goal. I hate being a rookie and not knowing it all. I will be the first to admit, I don't know much of anything at all. When we walked our separate ways I thought about it. Her last words to me were not the words I wanted to hear. If I were a patient I would have likely re-clicked my call light button in hopes to get a response I wanted to hear. I wanted her to tell me that it wont happen, but she didn't. I want to believe the only thing in my life that should never become desensitized is this art form that I am trying to master and that I won't make mistakes but I don't think it will be reality either. The sacrifices I'm going through to eventually have a silly little paper license from the state of California telling the state board I can comprehend standard nursing practices will tie the big picture together, alter my rookie state of mind and eventually I will know a little more than hardly nothing at all. When you look at the big picture, it seems silly. To give up so much for a piece of paper and what we prioritize as 'important' in life, but one day nothing else will matter the day I am standing in an ER room saving the life of another human being. My signs & symptoms of a rookie will no longer be present but I will likely see a new rookie standing in the corner, with teary eyes who looks just like I once did.