*NOTE: This first-person blog was written by Troy Long, a communication major and student worker in the Marketing and Communications Office. Troy is 25 and uses portable oxygen every day.
If my medical history has taught me anything, it’s that nursing is a paramount vocation. There are many things that could be wrong with any one person. The call of medical professionals requires they be both knowledgeable in their field and handle knowledge with empathy. My benediction in life has always been to make everyone’s lives a little easier: more specifically to the nurses and doctors that have cared for me over the years.
When I was given the task to play a difficult and uncooperative patient in order to help nursing students, I reveled at the opportunity.
The School of Health Professionals (SHP) simulation lab gives future medical professionals real-world scenarios before they ever step foot in healthcare facility. For many nursing students, this is the first time they will experience what it is like to do a routine examination of a patient. The students run through the simulation once, are briefed on what to improve upon, and then run the simulation again.
My character, Robert Cline, has dementia. He is 79 years old. My role was to make their examination as hard as possible. In each simulation, I created new and inventive ways to try to escape the room. Part of the student’s challenge was to not let me escape. Whether I was late to breakfast with my longtime friends or going to miss a matinee, it was vital that I created chaos. I even incorporated my portable oxygen machine for extra depth to the character. My actions were belligerent, uncooperative and improvised. An actor’s dream; a nurse’s nightmare.
The first simulations for both groups came with nerves and hesitance. I could tell the nurses were unsure of what to do with my character and his unobliging ways. There was even a time where I could have escaped and run away. It was anarchy, but never once did the nursing students waver from their commitment to compassion.
On the second go-around, confidence took over. The nursing students were more apt to ask my character personal questions, look me in the eyes and handle my actions better, while conducting the necessary measures needed in an examination. I felt taken care of, heard and supported. The differences between the first run through and the second improved vastly.
It is impossible to explain the nature and severity of sickness. It is a first-person experience, and unless you are inside of it, you never truly know the nature of its cunning ways. The role of caretaker is invaluable, and Dalton State is churning out graduates who know how to take illnesses and make them endurable.
SHP simulations prepare future medical professionals with practical applications. And while my character at a lot of levels was silly and fun to play, there is more than likely a man out there named Robert who has dementia and is uncooperative. This simulation is a building block for future success.
One of the setbacks in the simulations are lack of volunteers. What better way to give back than to provide your services to the very people who devote their lives to taking care of others? You can start by taking care of them first.
I plan to volunteer again. If you wish to as well, email sim lab coordinator Shannon Windom, firstname.lastname@example.org.
posted 02/11/2020 in Uncategorized
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