Baptism by fire

I daresay the cleanest, most heavily staffed and compliant nursing homes in existence aren’t able to completely conceal the unsavory, yet natural goings on of the human body.
We were standing attention at twilight in front of our first clinical site receiving our assignments.  Half on bath duty and half on vitals. We were to switch the next day. Our whites were ironed and our hair neatly pinned back per dresscode. Stethescope: check. Clipboard: check. Unwavering confidence: uh… hardly.
It has been said that if one knew what they were getting into before hand, they might opt out of marriage. The same may be said of entering nursing school. The majority of us had never laid hands on a human stranger for the purpose of delivering care. I think that we all had a feeling, however that we were about to crawl through the trenches that day.
I was partnered with, of course, one of the same girls I was so intimidated by in the classroom.  I’m ashamed to say, it felt a little good to see the tiny glint of defeat in her eye as we were tossed what looked like a mile long list of names. I swear it was at least two columns and no margins. Supposedly it was one hall’s worth of residents’ names and we had until noon to collect and document blood pressures, heart rate, respiration rate, and oxygen saturation on each of them. Luckily we had prepared by taking each other’s vital signs for an hour in the lab the day prior, so we were basically experts with unparalleled efficiency when it came to vitals. Not. Additionally,  we didn’t know these names and faces from Adam. Also, who’d a thunk? Nursing home residents DO NOT just hang out in their assigned beds all day waiting to get their vital signs taken! They are eating, playing bingo, smoking Virginia Slims, and gossiping in the dang flower garden! We were running all through the place trying to track these folks down with little to nothing to go by.
A couple of hours in, my partner and I were pretty proud of the dent we had made in our list. We actually got a system down pretty quickly and were feeling like Batman and Robin. Then we are handed another full sheet of names. Everyone except the two of us had been pulled to the showers or bed baths and the pair of us were to finish out basically the entire facility with the vital signs. It was really a blur. I know there was some wailing, some wondering, and some wollering. At our noon rendezvous my peers were stained, sweated out, winded and drenched up to the knee. We were all painted with the stuff you might expect from that sort of work. My partner and I turned in the two crumpled and smeared sheets with vitals scribbled beside three quarters of the names.
We were later told it may be a good idea not to work with each other because we were an inefficient team and your company could make or break your performance in this program.
Three years later she was the backbone of the Emergency Department in the facility where I worked med/surg. We always had each other’s back and worked together like cogs in a clock. We have since shared many laughs about that day in the nursing home. I think we learned more than anticipated and I value every moment of it.

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