Now that I have wrapped up my practicum (and quite possibly the longest twelve weeks of my life) I can honestly say I feel confident in what I have learned from all my preceptors. I have noticed a few things along the way of these twelve weeks.
I learned from a lot of different preceptors, in total I had about sixteen different people have at least one day of teaching me everything they know. Some I definitely learned more from then others but all of them taught me at least one new thing. Another great part about learning from a lot of different people is to hear their interesting stories, or a time they were not so confident and how they handled a situation. I feel I was prepared more for work asking these questions then asking about interpreting ECG’s because this is the stuff you cannot learn in theory, you only learn in practice. You cannot be sure how you will react when you have a patient who is in ventricular tachycardia when you walk into a room but if you can learn from what someone else has done you will definitely be more prepared. I find my preceptors also enjoyed telling their stories, it helped to remind them that no matter how hard some of the days become they are still helping people every day.
I also noticed that there comes a time in practicum where you feel you are ready. You feel you can begin to handle things on your own and work through any issues that come. The key here is not seeing absolutely everything but to be prepared for it when it does happen. Some preceptors are very cautious of letting you muddle through the job on your own but I think this is where you learn a lot more from your mistakes because you have to fix them on your own and build your own confidence. If you are in a room with a patient who is continuously moving while you are trying to get a recording, you need to have your own techniques to get a good tracing. You have to be confident enough to ask a nurse for help if you need it. I feel I learned these things when I did not have a preceptor right beside me telling me what to do.
Overall, while it is a very long and overwhelming time, you do learn a lot when you can put your skills into practice. I think it is important that you ask questions (even in the last few weeks when you feel like you do not have anything left to ask) and compile the skills of every one you have learned from to make you the great cardiology technologist that you want to be. You will make mistakes, probably make them often (and that’s okay) but it usually only takes one time to learn from it. That is why we do these twelve weeks of practicum.