Monday, November 30, 2009

Students on work exposure

Our hospital is hosting some GCE 'A' levels students (i.e. 16-18 year olds) for work exposure this week. Some were from the junior colleges and some from the Integrated Programme.

3 students came by my ward around 2pm this afternoon, expecting someone to show them around. The sad truth is there is the nursing staff here are already stretched with their own duties. Unlike some hospitals, there is no Clinical Instructor at the ward with the time to show them around. I asked if they could come back another day or time, but it seems that they had a specific time-slot scheduled (2-5pm today) to be at my ward.

At 3+pm, I finished the outstanding work from my morning duties. The 3 students were still standing in front of the nursing station awaiting instructions, and looking lost as to what to do. Finally, I checked with my preceptor SSN Y who was the afternoon in-charge and offered to show them briefly around. I showed them our facilities, equipment, some paperwork and processes, the staff, etc.
One male student asked the typical questions raised to a paediatric nurse, "Is the job stressful? Is it very stressful to hear the children crying all the time?"

I joked, "Wow, like job interview questions like that".

Then I continued, "It depends on individuals. For me, I have taught at a childcare centre before, and I don't find the crying stressful. Of course, if you find it stressful, you can choose another specialization. During our nursing training, we are exposed to different wards, so you'd have an idea what you prefer. Some prefer to handle children while others prefer to talk to the elderly. Nowadays, the HR departments for nursing are quite open, and they will consider their employees' preferences when assigning the ward. For example, my male classmates prefer A&E, they were assigned there and are enjoying themselves."

He said, "Yes, where the action is."

"Yes, and minimal report passing", I added.

"Yes, minimal report passing" he reflected with a wide grin and we laughed.

Getting to the point, I told them, "Nursing is not just caring for the patients, but we also handle other administrative work. E.g. Room assignments, for which we may have to deal with irate parents awaiting for the limited number of single-bedded rooms. The stress also come in when you have several patients that need your attention simultaneously. E.g. If one patient's oxygen level suddenly drops, another needs attention on the IV, etc. That's why team work is important. We cannot survive without teamwork here." (Actually the example I cited happened earlier that afternoon, just before the students arrive. Ha ha!)

At one point during the briefing, my afternoon colleague HCA M distributed payslips to the 2 afternoon SNs and I at the nursing counter. We all had a big smiles on getting our payslips. I joked to the students, "Yay! The happiest time of the month."

We were done at 4:10pm and I signed their orientation forms. I told them cheerfully that they could have an early-off. They then looked at each other, uncertain as to what to do. It occurred to me that these are hardworking and keen-to-learn students, where ideas of leaving early or “吃蛇” or ponteng in Singlish (pronounced as "pond-ten") are remote concepts. They lingered for a while more until some students assigned to the other wards joined them.

After they left, a consultant, who observed part of my briefing, teased, "Don't make it sound so easy to them. It's not that easy."

I replied, "They are young, only 16 or 17. Must give them hope, mah!"

My preceptor chipped in, "These are the bright kids, future doctors whom we may have to work with."

We laughed.

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