For the past five weeks, my cohort has been busy with our usual full-time classes and Acute Psychiatry clinical rotation on the McNair Unit of Kelowna General Hospital. These past weeks have been an incredibly exciting and fascinating experience. We spend every Wednesday and Thursday for eight weeks total caring for patients, sitting in on nursing report, and hopefully we will even get to observe an ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) procedure!
For the past few weeks, each member of my cohort and I have had the privilege of caring for two of our own patients for eight hours each day. We begin our day at 7 am in nursing report. During this time, we obtain a brief patient history on all the patients in the ward, as well as a summary of their most recent behaviours, and anything pressing we need to know. Report can take half an hour or more; after it ends, we check on our patients, who are often still sleeping. We are able to administer their medications, and some of us have even been able to give intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, which is always a good experience! Once medications are administered, we take our patients’ vitals; a simple yet important task. We then spend the day interacting with our patients. This includes obtaining some history from them; it is interesting to hear the stories of their lives and struggles with mental illness.
Each and every patient is different, which can often make for a challenge. Two patients suffering from the same illness may present their symptoms very differently, as we have come to learn during this clinical experience. Some are very withdrawn and introverted; others are outgoing and constantly seeking attention. Being able to care for all of our patients as individuals and meeting each of their needs is a skill that definitely requires empathy as well as practice! The challenge that Psychiatric Nursing provides is one which I accept graciously! It is definitely a career that requires you to be on your toes and use your critical thinking skills.
I have been thoroughly enjoying my Acute Psychiatry experience; I could really see myself working Acute Psychiatry after my schooling is complete. It is so rewarding to get a ‘thank you’ or a smile from a patient. Knowing that I have made even the smallest difference in someone’s life is exactly why I have chosen this career path. It is certainly not for everyone; but if you have a passion for it, it is absolutely worth it to pursue! It is not easy and it can be stressful at times. But being a part of a positive change in someone’s life is the reason we do what we do as Psychiatric Nurses!
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!