Being down in Klamath Falls we get a different snapshot of Oregon. Healthy Active Klamath states that, “64% of Klamath County residents are overweight.” On top of that, this is a socioeconomically poorer region of Oregon. This leaves many residents in great need of medical assistance with little means to receive the care they need. Our hospital, Sky Lakes Medical Center, is a smaller hospital with fewer specialties than Portland, but still plenty of opportunities to work on our craft. Too bad they only give us 3 years!
Currently I am a junior in the nursing program. When I first arrived last year I remember volunteering at every free cholesterol and blood glucose health fair that I could, just to get some experience poking fingers and trying to get a single drop of blood onto those tiny strips. I’d be twisting my arms every which-way, squeezing people’s fingers and trying to play it cool and show some resemblance of professionalism. Somehow this example has pretty much followed me through the last year and a half. You always try to practice these skills in lab, but ultimately you actually have to find a vein on your patient, advance the catheter, and not look like you’re doing a happy dance in your head when you finally see blood. One day I hope to actually do that happy dance in my head and not in front of my patient, you know, to show some resemblance of professionalism.
The only thing that makes this whole process doable is having instructors that are able to help guide from experience and other students that are willing to spend countless hours studying and practicing skills ad nauseam. All this hard work, stress, and lack of sleep leaves a student malnourished and in need of non-education based social interaction that can only be summed up in one word…POTLUCK! As a single guy in his 30’s I’ve grown accustomed to calling a hotdog with both catsup and mustard a “delicacy”, but my class spent a lot of time last year introducing me to what people call a “well balanced meal.” Mostly, it’s a great chance to take a deep breath and respect how far we’ve made it so far.
Next time I’ll actually talk about what we’re doing this term.