June 4, 2009

Fly Under The Radar

( I hope this doesn't quadruple space. It wants to do that when I pre-write in Word.) I've re-paragraphed this four times! This will also be posted on my new Bohecker Blog http://rnstudentatboheckercollege.blogspot.com/

Today was the first day of orientation for obstetrics (OB) or, the care of women and children during pregnancy.

I've been looking forward to this aspect of nursing school for many, many, years. This was the only day of orientation provided for the hospital where we will be working as student nurses because it is located 100 miles south of Columbus.

Bohecker College scheduled a coach bus to take our entire class of 40 students to Portsmouth, Ohio, for orientation on this day. Everyone was required to attend.

An ear-splitting, hydraulic-sounding, HISSSSS made me jump out of my skin as I approached the mammoth-sized, chartered bus at 6: 15 this morning.

"I didn't do that on purpose," apologized the smiling bus driver as I pulled myself up the steep steps and into the chilly, air-conditioned, brake hissing, tour bus.

"Yes you did. But I forgive you. This is an exciting day for me," I teased back.

You bet! Yesterday I broke down and purchased a new pair of nursing shoes for the occasion. Last night I carefully organized a small travel bag, because we had been told that there would be no place for purses or backpacks at the hospital.

"Just put some money in your pocket for lunch," we were informed at an informational meeting at school.

My uniform has been ready and hanging out for a couple weeks!

I smiled at familiar faces and noticed a few not present yet. Blankets, McDonald's breakfasts, thermos containers, a few schoolbooks, and more new shoes!

After a quick roll-call from our clinical instructor, and a couple of blurry-eyed students who arrived a minute late who were reminded that they were "LATE" and, "Don't be late again", we were off.

It was 0635 by my watch. By 0637, the driver had turned north on the freeway instead of south. I tilted my head in thoughtful question. Now, I know I often get lost in new places of the city, but I was absolutely sure this was not the way to Portsmouth. I had already memorized the way! I leaned forward and informed the instructor.

"Portsmouth is south. We're going north."

She shrugged and looked over at the driver who didn't seem perturbed.

The students were busy trying to get a movie started with a CD someone brought and/or settling into the one-to-a-seat two-hour trip. No one else seemed to be paying attention to the time, directions or landscape.

A few minutes later, I noticed the bus took an exit for 23 South which made me feel a little better, but it was obvious to me that this route would take us completely through the city and out the other side in busy, morning rush-hour traffic on a crowded city street.

Sure enough, 45-minutes later, we were still taking detours and criss-crossing other freeways in the city.

I opened my cold drink and watched early morning dog-walkers with poop bags alongside, suited men pumping gas for 2.79 a gallon, smartly dressed cops having stopped an elderly couple at a rest area, and corn about 2 inches high in the fields just out of town.

I wished I had brought a blanket and a book to read. Someone asked the driver to turn on the heat. Would my uniform get wrinkled? I didn't want to put on my lab jacket (even though I was very cold) because I didn't want it to get wrinkled. I tried to call hubby to let him know we were on our way, but he wasn't at his desk. It was only 0815. I started writing on this story...

About an hour later, as the bus driver took an exit for 52 West at Chillicothe, several students in the back of the bus yelled out, "No. Stay on 23", so, she rolled on through the intersection and got back on the highway.

"Mapquest sure messed me up today," she murmured. "Mapquest told me to go the wrong way in the city too."

Ahh ha! I was right!

It was almost 9 a.m. when the bus slowed for the quaint little city of Portsmouth located in a small valley along the Ohio-Kentucky boarder and right on the beautiful Ohio River.

"My map says turn here for the hospital," I heard the instructor advise the driver.

Those instructions were not on the bus driver's map, but she made a slow, tight left turn.

After several blocks of peering at two maps and glancing quickly up and down side streets, the tall hospital appeared on our right.

But no one knew where to go after that. We growled past the emergency room peering around through heavy raindrops. We tight-turned in the parking lot to get back out. We drove around the hospital and turned right at a dead end.

"The students who are already there, say we should have turned left back there," announced a student from the back of the bus who had obviously been using a banned cell phone for help. (Some students drove their cars to the hospital.. They also got good directions before they started out.)

"You know I can't make tight turns with this big bus," grumbled the driver under her breath.

Another slow drive around the perimeter of the hospital to the dead end, a correct left turn, and more intense map searching. (The cell phone user wasn't too outspoken with her information.)

As we went down a slight incline, those in the back of the bus (who could see up the hill better), located a small building with the letters "Gibson" over the front door. Another good indication that we were in the right place was the friendly presence of our classmates piling out of their cars in the parking lot.

I found myself the first one off the bus! I led the way up the steps and into a rather small entry where a blue-haired woman motioned with her arms down the hallway toward a classroom.

The building doesn't look big enough to hold 40 serious-minded, white-clad, somewhat nervous, nursing students with very full urinary bladders.

Several headed for the bathroom, but there were only two stalls, so most of us go on to the classroom.

The room is set up with 14 desks in a large rectangle around the perimeter of the room, but the chairs quickly fill up, and several are left standing along the wall.

"Don't sit on the floor. That's the most dirty place of all," the instructor offers helpfully.

One student reminds the instructor that it's time for her to "pump', meaning she has a nursing baby at home.

"We'll take roll-call,” announces the instructor just as I was slipping out for the ladies room.

"These names are the students who don't have the proper paper-work for clinicals. You can't do clinicals if your paper work is not on file. These are the students whose files do not have current paperwork."

I wasn't sure if she was doing roll call, or listing those who were at a dead-end 100 miles from home, or announcing those who would be allowed to continue orientation today! And, I was pretty sure I shouldn't leave the room for a potty break now!

After the lengthy list of those whom she had found to be out of compliance, students tried to keep emotions under control as they explained.

"I turned my TB in to (Somebody) on Monday. How long does it take to file something?"

"I turned mine in to Mr. (Somebody) last week. He said he'd take care of it."

"I turned my background check into Ms. (Somebody). She said she was in charge of that."

"I gave you mine yesterday!"

"I turned my paperwork into the office three weeks ago!"

"I turned mine into the office three times already!"

"My COPIES are locked in the car back at school".

"My copies are ON THE BUS!"

Thankfully, I was in the clear. Not because I turned my physical, TB, Hepatitis B shots, background checks, current nursing license, proof of insurance, letter of recommendation, and current CPR into the office when I was admitted, but I had also turned in more copies back in January when complaints were heard that the RN files were "empty".

And, yesterday when this instructor was in the classroom going over what she had, and she didn't call my name as being in compliance, I pulled out a copy of everything that I always carry with me, and gave it to her right then and there!

"I knew this day would come,” I said to myself yesterday and again today.

I left for the restroom not sure who was staying and who was coming with me.

When I returned, the students were being reminded of the Bohecker handbook rules for clinicals. I felt confident I was in the clear. Hair. Attitude. Nails. Uniform. Check. Check. Check.

But suddenly with a shock I realized that my ID badge was not hanging around my neck! I had taken it off on the bus because it was bothering my neck, and I had forgotten to put it back on. I remembered laying it on the seat beside me and could not remember putting it back on!

I raised me hand. (Rule number 1. Never raise your hand to draw attention to yourself if you are not in compliance.)

"I'm sure my ID badge is on the bus. I had it on in the bus," I almost wailed.

The instructor came over and looked right at me.

"Are those post earrings or not?" she asked outright.

"Post, I guess. I've worn these little white ear rings every day of school, and no one said that I shouldn't," I offered.

(Rule #2. Never "offer" an explanation in times like this.)

"They're not post earrings. You are out of compliance! Go find the bus and do something" were the unbelievable words that came out of her very firm mouth even as I yanked the earrings out and said, “Sorry”.

I ran out of the building into the pouring rain. I'm sick to my stomach. My heart skips wildly. (I'm not crying!) I’m in such shock that I’m shivering, and I feel almost angry. I survey the massive parking lots and hilly landscape for the bus, and I don't see of speck of it anywhere.

There 's a small hospital transport bus waiting to take groups of us to the main hospital. I ask the driver if he has seen our bus. He says it's not in the parking lots around the hospital.

As I turn to re-enter the Gibson building, the entourage of the entire class is at the front door.

"You have to fly under the radar," murmurs a sympathetic classmate as I'm nudged to get into the waiting van with the first group (without the instructor).

They tell me another student has been detained for another non-compliance dress issue, but all others are coming to orientation!

As we wait in the OB lobby for the rest of our group, I button my lab jacket to cover the naked area where my ID badge should be. Several other classmates tuck their ID badge inside their labs jackets so we will all look alike.

Honestly, I hope to avoid the instructor but fully expect to be told to wait outside when she notices me.

Those of you who know me, must know by now that my guardian angels would never allow something this awful to happen to me.

I'm not sure what transpired, but I think it might have had something to do with the sheer number of students that Bohecker sent to this hospital. You could tell they were surprised at the numbers and were not completely prepared. (It's a very nice hospital from what I can tell. I was impressed!)

We stood awkwardly in front of the nurses’ station in the OB department waiting for our tour. Nurses who had been assigned to us, waited questioningly. The hospital OB nurses chatted lightly with a few who were at the front of the group as our instructor and hospital staff scurried back and forth.

After about 10 minutes, without explanation, we were told that we were "done for the day" and would be returning back to school! It was only 10:45 a.m.! We had been there less than one hour. The noisy, hungry, troupe headed down the stairs and outside where the instructor was trying to locate the bus driver. (She had her number but hadn’t offered it to me when I needed to find the bus?)

While we waited for the bus, I had one more thing to do!

Radar or not! I walked up to the instructor (who will be with our group tomorrow when I go back for a regular day there).

I held up my hands and said, "No tips!”

While I had the artificial tips removed months ago per school policy, I do have a light layer of hard 'fills" to keep the thin nails from splitting and bleeding. The rules do not mention "fills'.

"You know the rules. They shouldn't be more than 1/4 inch long,” responds the instructor as she touches my nails. (Will she notice the hardness?).

Well, when I hold my hands in front of my face, I don't see the tips of my nails. I'm sure they can't be anywhere near 1/4 inch long. That's my 1/4-inch rule.

Take my blood. Inject me with poison (immunizations). Pull off my fingernails. Yank out my tiny earrings. Dress me in your uniform. No one tries harder or wants this degree more!

On the bus back to Columbus, the instructor-turned-comrade hands back a pen I loaned her on the way up.

"Oh I see you found your ID badge", she says with a smile and knowing nod.

"Yes, I did," I respond.

"Yes. And, thank-you."

Take Care On the Journey,


Home: http://dustyangels.blogspot.com/

E-Mail: bestnurse@usa.com


The Cat's Meow said...

I read where folks keep asking Linda why she took so long to become an RN.
Well I can say it in one word BILL!!
She worked her whole married life to him working (sometimes 3 jobs)
Putting BILL through school for his doctor degree.
Read her book Dusty Angels
I remember one time while I was visiting he came home and told her
She owed him 50 cents, Because she paid for ALL food.
And the pitiful part is, she HAD to pay him for a soda he bought at work.
Then she had her two great boys who she raised to be even greater men.
Now she has moved on and has Jim.
He loves Linda dearly and supports her and her dreams.
I, for one, am very proud of my sister! I know she will be the a great RN, so "Bring it on!"
From first hand experience she is the BEST nurse you could ever have!!
If your a reader of Linda's blog you know I say what I feel and this is all just my opinion.

Katy said...

Wow, they sure don't make it easy for you in that school, do they? That sounds like a stressful and disappointing day, Mama Linda.

I hope things get better as the term progresses!