Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The CONTRIBUTIONS of a Nursing Student: Priceless

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The CONTRIBUTIONS of a Nursing Student: Priceless

Article excerpt

ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, I visited a hospital located in the rural mountains of Pennsylvania to prepare clinical assignments for my first-semester junior clinical nursing students. The busy medical-surgical floor was as I expected. Nurses scurried from patient to patient, trying to care equally for each person despite the thinned weekend staffing. As I examined the kardexes in an attempt to locate patients to challenge, but not overwhelm, my students, I overheard nurses express frustration about caring for a 38-year-old Mexican man who spoke no English. The patient was cooperative, but the nurses were having difficulty performing a detailed admission assessment and could not begin to approach him with such required legal documents as advanced directives, a power of attorney, or a living will.

Finally, the nurses asked if I could speak Spanish. I could not help them myself, but I thought about the form I asked my students to complete on the first day of their clinical orientation. Along with basic information, I ask students identify their strengths and weaknesses, previous nursing experience, and other courses they are taking. As a clinical instructor, I am always interested in stressors that may compete with the demands of my nursing course.

I recalled that one of my students, a quiet, nonassertive woman, was taking Spanish 4. Although I was aware of her limited nursing experience - the class's only previous clinical experience was five days on a long-term care unit - I posted the assignment.

Monday, before nursing staff were notified, I spoke with the student to be sure that she would be comfortable with this assignment. She gladly accepted the challenge: to learn about the patient's symptoms and previous medical conditions, how he arrived at the emergency room, and if there were any family members to contact.

That day, I closely monitored the student and her interactions with the patient, watching her emerge as an educator, patient advocate, and primary care provider. The student explained the need for the intravenous line and educated the patient about his medications and the routines that he would encounter in the hospital. I also watched her become part of the nursing team, asking the charge nurse if other information was needed from the patient or if there were other educational needs to provide. …

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