Four Times The Charm



A Lesson From A Patient For A Baby Nurse

It’s my 6th day into my final preceptorship (and finally my weekend) and a few days ago I had a patient tell me something important that he wanted me to know as a baby nurse.

As I was doing my routine check on my patient I had asked him if there was anything else he needed and he said “yes you can come talk to me”, and so I did as he was my only patient. I  sat in his room and listened to him talk for over an hour about his cat, his life when he was young, and his shop in his garage. My buddy nurse came in to get me after a while to do a task for her and so I left him in his room. Later that evening when shift was almost over and I was doing my final checks he told me to make sure I come back to see him before I left for the night. As I promised, I went back to see him and he told me he had something important to tell me. He told me about how when he was in the hospital before one of his nurses told him a story about how when she was young nurse. She told him how she once had a patient who had wanted to talk to her for a moment, and because she was busy she told him that she couldn’t talk to him at the time. Later on she went back and learnt he had passed away only 5 minutes after she told him she didn’t have time to talk to him. While this man was on his deathbed he had only wanted someone to talk to before passing and this nurse had regretted it ever since but wanted to pass on an important lesson. She told my patient if he had ever come across a young nurse to tell them her story and to tell them if a patient ever wants to talk to you take a moment to talk to them because you don’t know what it could mean to them.

This is something that will stick with me for the rest of my nursing career and it meant a lot to me that my patient wanted to tell me this (I’m a big sap so I almost got teary when he told me this). It just shows how important some of the smallest acts we do while caring for our patients can have such a significant impact and meaning for them. People will always notice the little things you do even if it doesn’t always seem that way. 

Prior to Preceptorship. 

As we end our final weekend before starting preceptorship, there are a flurry of emotions. Excitement to be so close to finishing. Fear of the unknown. An eagerness to learn. And the biggest one of all, anxiety about whether I will do well as I transition into becoming a Registered Nurse.

I will be completing my final placement (Preceptorship) in Acute GI Medicine. It will last ten weeks, and I will experience things I never have before. I know that this placement will allow for me to hone in my assessment and time-management skills, as well as gain a newfound appreciation for the GI system (which to be honest, has been my weakest and most looked-over system).

Although I have not started my first shift, I feel these emotions looming over me. I want to be so excited to learn and experience things I never have, but I am also so nervous of what is to come. We have never practiced outside of the watchful eye of our clinical instructors. They have always been there to watch us, to save us, to help us, to calm us, to teach us.

Now, we have a Preceptor. Someone who is there to teach us the ins and outs of Nursing. How to function on our own, how to manage our workload and how to care for different patients. Being a Preceptor is a huge responsibility, and I only hope that my preceptor will teach me, guide me, and help me flourish into the best RN I can be.

As we enter into this experience, and last few weeks as a student, I feel the weight of it all. I am bracing myself for the 12-hour shifts, the night shifts, the long travel times, the lack of sleep, the responsibility. I am also ready for the jokes and bonding with my patients, the comradery I will feel with my fellow Nurses, and the pride I will feel when I am able to successfully care for and manage my patients.

I guess it feels like we’re alone now, facing the world as real adults. Real Nurses. It’s a lot of responsibility, and I’m sure the next ten weeks are going to be ten weeks of tremendous growth. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am so ready to get through it.

Right now, all that stands between me and my degree is 340 hours. I can do it, I will do it.


Appreciation: First Time Cadaver Experience

As a Nursing student we all have unique learning opportunities at different times and we sometimes don’t get to share the same experiences. Today, I was privileged enough to take part in a Cadaver lab. Cadavers are human bodies that are donated to science by the individuals prior to their death. -In this case, each individual came to the program and agreed to be of benefit to the education of future students-

As I walked into the Medical Sciences building and went up the elevator, the worry and excitement hit me all at once. The worry stemmed from this being the first exposure I have had to an embalmed human body. I was excited because I knew that I was walking into a very unique opportunity that would allow me to solidify my understanding of Anatomy.

The lights in the room were so bright. Almost like a big, white, cold OR. There were multiple tables with containers, and body parts covered in cloth. Everyone was quiet as we looked around wide-eyed. An eye-opening experience, literally.

The first thing anyone should prepare for is the smell. The chemicals used to embalm the body give off a strong scent that may be difficult for some individuals to handle (make sure you eat!). We were each told to put on aprons and a pair of gloves. As I tied the apron around my waist, my heart began to pound at the sight of the many “stations.” There was a heart station, a brain station, a thorax station, a pelvic station, etc. My first stop? The heart. I approached the table with a few other students, and we created a perfect circle around the table. We all stared in awe. The Doctor picked the heart up and began pointing out the various areas. As she was speaking she looked at us and said “feel.” I was the first person to her right so she grabbbed my hand and led it to touch the heart. I was the first to touch it.

I was most surprised by the colour and firmness of the tissue. I’m not sure what exactly I expected but it definitely felt weird to hold a heart and imagine it once beating. This is when my instructor started to make food analogies 😩😭 This lab is NOT for the faint hearted, or the light headed.

As we moved from table to table, learning more and more, the lab became this amazing learning experience. I felt a “click” go off in my head, as I touched and looked at everything. Seeing arteries up close, accurate sizes, organs in relation to each other, the “flower-like” appearance of the intestines. It was all so amazing.

There were two parts that I believe impacted me most, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of appreciation: the face and the brain.

The face: This was the most difficult on my stomach, because it was the hardest for me to desensitize. The face we examined had been cut in half to expose the different components inside and I noticed every detail. The shape of the nose, the mouth, whether the person who donated their body was female or male, the shape and size of the tongue from the inside, the freckles, the eyelashes.

The eyelashes. I looked at the eyelashes, grateful that this person signed a paper willingly donating their body to Science so that students like myself can further their knowledge. I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation and respect for the entire lab.

The Brain: The last stop was the brain. “This is it. It’s everything that makes us who we are.” Everyone was quiet as the Doctor pointed out different areas of the brain, and she handed one for us to pass around. When it got to me, I picked it up and realized it was heavier than I had imagined. Quite dense. There was also one brain sectioned into two parts so that the internal components were visible. As I looked at the Cerebellum, I heard someone say “wow that’s beautiful.” And I thought “Exactly. So beautiful.” I’ll be the first to say how surprised I am that I was even able to think something like that. But, the detail in each area of our bodies really is so beautiful.

The human body is amazing. The detail and complexity involved in even the smallest of thoughts/actions is so amazing. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but following this experience I felt so refreshed, empowered and appreciative.

If you are ever lucky enough to receive this experience, make the most of it. Ask questions, feel everything, note the size and location of each part in relation to another. You will walk out of it feeling accomplished, appreciative and ready to take on your role as a Healthcare Professional ❤


A reminder from Angie

As nurses, we see patients during some of the hardest and sickest times of their lives but also some of the most special and beautiful. I got these bracelets for the four of us as Christmas presents before going into our last semester of nursing school. They are a reminder of why we chose this career path and the four years of hard work we’ve put in as our degree comes to an end. I couldn’t have done it without these girls. 💜

These gorgeous bracelets are handmade by the beautiful Angie Rose who has fought her battle with Leukemia. She sells them to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital that provided her treatment. If you’d like to purchase a bracelet or read about her incredible 8 year journey you can find them at 

— Kayla




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