Wednesday, May 30, 2007

First True Clinical Experience (Part I)

I knew we would have to do some sort of actual CNA-like task eventually.

Day 1 of clinicals was spent in an orientation that included a tour and another overview of HIPAA (in case we didn't get it after watching the video twice in class).

Day 2 we did a scavenger hunt on the floor of the nursing home we'll be working on. They had told us in class how glad the nursing homes are to get students, and especially how excited all the CNA's are to have our help. Yeah... not the case. I should have figured that one out. We don't know what we're doing, and here we are, wandering around their workplace, getting in their way, and slowing them down. They actually seem to dislike us quite a bit.

Day 3, we practiced using the stand-assist lifts on each other. For those of you non-healthcare people, have you seen these things?

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The first time you see a CNA swinging a grandma down the hall on one of these, it kind of catches you off guard... Oh, and they usually don't look as happy as this guy does. Usually they're complaining that the harness is too tight. (They can breathe, don't worry, they just like to complain sometimes.) I've got to wonder how they feel about riding around on these things. It scared us to use them on each other, and we're pretty young and healthy and comfortable with technology.

Today was Day 4. In theory this morning, we started hearing the horror stories from other students about their clinicals. It seemed as though they were all thrown into the job on Day 1, and are way ahead of my group. I don't think I'm complaining about that though, since they have had some pretty rough experiences. One group was sent to give a bed bath to a man in isolation. Not only is he in isolation (which complicates the whole process), but he is also combative, so he tried to take a couple swings at the students, as well as trying to work in some groping. There were also several poop stories.

So, I dreaded going to clinicals today, knowing that we couldn't keep avoiding patients forever... I guess that's not the point of the class. We were assigned in groups of 3 to give one patient a bed bath, and then change all their bedding while they were still in their bed (yeah, tricky business). The residents were finishing up lunch when we got there, so we were instructed to get our linens and supplies ready and wait for the CNA to put them in bed so we could get started.

We spent the next 20 minutes discussing what sort of bedding supplies we needed. "Ok, I guess we need a bedspread. Wait, if they have their own bedspread, we reuse that one right? Umm... Ok, this list says blue striped blanket. All these blankets have pink stripes. Do you suppose they're the same? We're going to need a bath blanket. No, I think the thing with the pink stripes IS the bath blanket. Where did the instructor go? Do you feel like we aren't ready for this? How are we supposed to take care of these people when we can't figure out how to make a bed? Where do they keep the mattress pads? Did you guys find the mattress pads yet? No, where are the fitted sheets? I don't want to ask the CNA's, they're scary."

We gathered up enough bedding to make 7 beds, and headed back to the room to wait for our resident. We waited and waited. You would think that the bedding fiasco would have allowed plenty of time for our subject's arrival, but she was still MIA. Well, we decided to get the bathing stuff together. We opened up the bathroom door to get some water in the basin, and there was her roommate on the toilet. Oops. OK... where is our lady anyway? Let's get this bath over with. Uh oh, CNA flies in the room to get roommate off the toilet and into bed. We manage to get in her way no less than 14 times in the 5 minutes it takes her to hoist roommate up on the lift and swing her across the room into bed.

Finally we ask where our lady is. A CNA is gracious enough to point her out, down the hall in a wheelchair, wearing a blue sweater, then CNA runs off again. We introduced ourselves to her, and asked if we could give her a bath. Nope. She wasn't rude at all, and not uncooperative, but she was afraid that she would miss ice cream at 3:00. We (with the help of a nearby LPN) convinced her we had plenty of time, so she agreed to let us take her back to bed.

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2 weeks into class...

Well, I'm 2 weeks into my CNA class now. My schedule got a little messed up because my instructor became ill before the class started, and they encouraged us to either be absorbed into another class, or drop the class altogether. So now, instead of going to school M-F 1-4:45, I go MW 8:30-4:45 and F 8:30-12. It makes for long days on Mondays and Wednesdays, but from 1-4:45 I'm in clinicals at a local nursing home, so that goes fast.

I haven't done anything hands on with actual patients yet, but that could be coming on Wednesday. I guess I am a little nervous about it all, but I'm trying to pay close attention in class and participate in labs and do my best. So far, we've just been practicing skills on each other, ie. bathing, toothbrushing, taking vitals, etc. Don't worry, we just bathed each other's arms, legs, and faces. We practiced "Perineal" bathing (or washing "hoo-has or bajingos" as Eliot on Scrubs would say) on anatomically correct mannequins rather than each other (thank God... we've started to become somewhat close, but not THAT close).

I've got a test tomorrow on nearly half the book. I'm having trouble studying for it, because when I take the quizzes at the end of the chapter, or work in the workbook, I get really confused by the questions. I think I'm thinking too hard. For example: A __________ is a sudden catastophic event in which many people are injured or killed, and property is destroyed. I racked my brain trying to remember reading this in the book, then realized, the answer is "disaster." So do I go to the trouble of memorizing the vocabulary word "disaster" or can I just assume I know what a disaster is? __________ occurs when electrical current passes through the body. Did you guess "electrical shock?" I didn't, I'm definitely thinking too hard.

I'm not saying my class is easy, although some of it really is. I don't think the "theory" portion is difficult, I guess it's more about being prepared to actually take care of people. I guess I can tell you that as a CNA you're expected to shower daily (yes, there was an entire chapter on "workplace ethics" that told you how to be a good employee with good hygiene), but can I take care of another adult who is completely dependent on me? That's the hard part.

Still waiting on the cell phone job. They're saying now that they want to put me at the kiosk in the mall because it would be best for my availability, but I don't know what's going on. I'm just constantly waiting for their call. I'm still hoping I get it, but I'm getting more and more doubtful. Why won't anyone hire me? I shower daily! After I get my test out of the way, I'm back on the hard core job hunt.