“School na scam!. School na scam!” If I did not have a degree in nursing would you allow me to attend to you? Won’t the thought of a quack be scarier than my injection?
Alarm clocks ring out, morning migraines a consequence, and of course missed breakfast; what’s not to look forward to on Thursdays?.And as time flies by, it is not until two hours after noon that I finally get to pause and catch my breath, oxygen never seemed so precious.
It was my third week of Surgery posting to the Main Theatre. An elective surgery-Hydocelectomy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. I was hurriedly skimming through reading materials in preparation for surgery.Hydrocelectomy is a surgical procedure to repair a hydrocele, and a hydrocele is the collection of fluid around a testicle. The surgical procedure essentially drains the fluid and shrinks the size of the sac formerly containing the fluid. As I read hurriedly, the patient was wheeled into the operating room. When he was ensconced in the theatre, I walked in with members of the team. A review of his chart suggested that he was 62-years old, and a titled man with claims of being a Chief.
The team set about the routine and never tiring process of prepping the patient for surgery. Monitors were fixed, electrodes stuck to his skin and another clipped on one of his fingers. As the surgeons stepped out to prepare, the anesthesiologist and technician kept busy. My task as a nursing student was to insert the cannula for the intravenous fluid to be infused. I experienced a mixture of pleasure and fear at the task assigned to me. My head was filled with what if thoughts. What if I dont find a vein? What if I cause him so much pain, and what if I make a spectacle of myself in front of my superiors? These thoughts heightened my anxiety. Alas I felt the gentle reassuring hand of my supervisor which squeezed my shoulders, and her kind voice telling me to take my time and assuring me that I could do it. Suddenly, I felt more confident, as she walked away to attend to another student in the adjacent operating room.
I proceeded in my tremulous quiet confidence to attempt to insert the cannula into his hand. I pierced his skin with the cannula and pulled back the needle from his skin, but there was not the accompanying flash of blood from his vein indicating a successful insertion. I made multiple attempts after this, and with each attempt my face was covered in sweat, despite the airconditioning in the theatre; this was made worse by his uncomfortable and uneasy gaze he gave me with every prick. Soon enough he started murmuring and this put me off, as my confidence drained under his stare. I muttered abruptly “Stay calm Sir! I’m just a nursing student and this is my first stab at this procedure.” He gasped immediately and started screaming, and all hell broke loose , as he would not settle and flailed his arms wildly, I could feel his pain and anxiety, but it was nothing compared to my total humiliation as my heart beat even more wildly than his flailing arms. .
The day was saved, but obviously not by me! But that is story for another day. Before you ask, I am not a certified nurse yet; that was my first clinical posting and I just had the worst trial with limited supervision.
That was me attempting to carry out a procedure with my hurriedly acquired book knowledge. This leads me to wonder what would happen if youth with or without a clear idea and knowledge are thrust into any system- Engineering, Aviation, Medicine and Technology- without appropriate skill acquisition. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, one might say it is a recipe for disaster, and a catastrophe waiting to be unmasked.
In a few years I will be a graduate with a degree in Nursing Science and Midwifery and the probability of me getting a well-paying job is unknown. But if I walk into a hospital for an interview and say “I watch The Resident and Nurses television series; I think I could pull a trick or two with the syringe.” Would you expect them to say “You’ve done well! You’ve beat the system! Here’s your appointment letter?”
School is a scam? Hmm, if it is, it is certainly a scam worth experiencing and living in order to be better trained and better prepared to do the tasks expected in living life in the bigger world. Does that make me a scammer?
This article was written by Aifuobhokhan Mirabel Nneka; connect with her on Instagram via _nnekawrites