What did you do this summer?

Monika Spangenburg: Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington DC

I was placed on the orthopedic unit where I was able to enhance my skills with mobility of patients, post-operative care, drains, dressing changes, and insertion of IVs and blood draws. The best parts of my externship were the relationships I formed with my patients. One particular patient had been in and out of the unit for numerous knee surgeries. He originally only needed a left knee replacement but complications arose with an infection so the patient had to keep going back to surgery. Most patients in orthopedics stay in the hospital for a maximum of 3 days before usually going to rehab, but this patient was different. He eventually had to get an intensive plastic surgery to correct his knee further by taking a flap of skin from his abdomen to apply to his damaged knee. One of the most critical parts of caring for an orthopedic patient is mobility, but with this patient he was immobile because of his critical condition. While caring for him I made it a priority to mobilize him while in bed and while bathing him for the day so he would have a better outcome once being able to go home to recover.

We formed a friendly relationship because I was able to see him almost everyday which made him comfortable with me helping him . I made a point to ask about his life outside the hospital. One of the most important things nurses do is making their patients feel welcome. I have had multiple patients apologize for needing my help but I always reassure them that they should never think of themselves as a burden because as a nursing student and a soon-to-be nurse our goal is to make them feel just as good as if they were home. This is something I always try to remember, that we make more of a difference in a patient’s hospital stay and life than we think we do.

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