What did you do this summer?

Ilena Godleski: UPMC Passavant

After four weeks of working as a student nurse intern at UPMC Passavant, I have cared for copious amounts of patients. Several of these patients are memorable, but one patient in particular stands out. This patient was second day post-op following a shoulder surgery. When I received report from the nightshift nurse, I was told that she was quite a handful to care for, as she was a “very needy patient.” The nurse was truly out of patience with this patient. The patient had a PCA pump, but yet she reported her pain never subsided following the administration of the pain medication. The nurse had painted a pretty bleak picture of the patient and in turn, how the rest of my day would go caring for her.

Later on in report, I was also informed she had a genetic disorder called Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. When I heard this news, I became pretty excited since I had just learned about this condition in my genetics class at school and a light bulb went off in my head. Along with having hypermobile joints and early onset arthritis, I knew people with this disorder have difficulty controlling their pain. After assessing my patient, I sat down and talked with her about her disorder and what works best to control her pain. I felt for her when she talked about the several surgeries she had undergone to better stabilize her joints, neck, and back. She told me about the pain medication that eases the pain and I then informed my preceptor and she in turn notified the attending physician. Following a change in medication, my patient’s pain was now under control and she had some pain relief. It is amazing how just one simple conversation can change a patient’s plan of care. This experience at my student nurse internship is something that I hope will stick with me throughout my nursing career.


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