Inside the hospitals students are often treated like cheap labor by the staff nurses. They are frequently given the dirty, the foul and most nauseating work that must be done. Then the staff nurse goes on a long smoke break or gossips on the telephone. Nothing pisses me off more.
Every nurse, no matter how old and grey was once a nursing student. Nobody left the womb knowing this stuff, and they damned sure didn't learn it in kindergarten. When I am finished with my cases, I will sometimes cruise the floors looking for students. When I find one wondering what to do with a bedpan full of bloody crap, I show them. Then I locate their preceptor. I have absolutely no patience for this kind of abuse.
Nursing students are the future of nursing, and we all will be cared for by them if we last long enough. If we are to teach students to care, then we must first care for the students we teach. This is a simple notion totally lost on some of the asshats on the hospital floors. In medicine and nursing there is an idiom; See one, Do one, Teach one. This is not the same as Do one, Do another one, Watch your preceptor abandon you.
I will, about twice a year, have a class of students rotate through, to observe me work. Regardless of my case load and pace of operations, I take the time to educate. I try to involve the student in the process as much as possible, depending of course, on their level of learning.
I let students know it's OK to be queasy. We all were at one time. I let students know it's OK to want to run away, as long as you do not. I let students know it's OK to feel fear, to believe you are totally inadequate to the task at hand, as long as you step forward and learn how to accomplish the task. I let students know that nurses are not special, that we are not superhuman, that we have to learn and reaffirm our knowledge.....every day. It never stops.......Unless, of course, you are a know-it-all asshat who will never learn again.
We are all teachers. As nurses, we educate our patients whether we like it or not. We might educate them on taking charge of their health, or we might educate them that some nurses are rude, obnoxious and uncaring asses. When we have students on our units, we educate them as well. We teach them not only about our profession, but also how to teach others. If we do not teach them with our words and deeds, we will surely teach them with our attitudes of indifference.
So, if you are a nursing student, I apologize for the indifference and abuse you sometimes suffer from arrogant asses strutting around in scrubs. They may have a few letters behind their names and an ID tag on their shirt, but they are not what you have to become. They are not my colleagues, and they do not have to be yours. You are in charge of your destiny and the future of nursing. Learn all you can, and realize that the letters do not give you special powers. The knowledge and skills you acquire do. Those who would abuse you in clinicals are simply to insecure to teach you. They are the ones who retreated in their own clinicals, and they are retreating still.
If you are already a nurse, and if you have students aboard, make time for them. They are there for the same reasons you once were, because they give a damn about other people and they want to help them. I know you are busy. I know everything is late and falling apart. Teach them how to cope while making it better. Teach them how to be professional in the face of lunacy. Teach them how to teach. Teach them how to care. One day they will be caring for you, or someone you love.