Finding Understanding

Tracee Rolff
Adjunct Faculty, Nursing

As a nursing professor I see students from every walk of life, many different countries, and vastly different levels of understanding of what this career will ask of them.

I met Jen in my OB clinical rotation, she was not overly excited to be in a clinical that focused solely on new mothers and their babies but she was ready to give it her all. English was not Jen’s first language. I quickly noticed as she was doing her paperwork each week there were several medical terms, especially revolving around infant care that Jen was not understanding. Since English was not Jen’s first language, I began to explain what each word was when I was talking. Instead of just saying this baby has lanugo, I would say see the fine hair or lanugo on this babies back. After I started doing this, Jen would find me during lulls in clinical and find every word on the paper work she didn’t know and ask me what it meant. She told me she had been looking them up at home to better understand but that took her so much time. We continued each week to go over more vocabulary. We got to the point Jen had to start going through the computer and looking at every individual different thing a nurse could chart in the computer to find new words for her to learn.

The most exciting thing happened when Jen was able to see a C-section for the first time. She came alive. The nurse caring for the patient said she was the most helpful student she had ever had in the Operating room. Jen found everything she could do to help in the room and was able to provide real meaningful help in a situation where I usually just send students to observe. The nurse said she was counting sponges and doing everything she could to help the staff without breaking the sterile field. Surgery was Jen’s niche: she had found it in the most unlikely place, an obstetrical clinical. I recently heard from Jen; she wanted me to be a reference for her as she was soon applying to be a nurse in an operating room setting. I have no doubt that Jen will continue to learn and be able to be an amazing OR nurse.