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By Kira Jackson, Illinois Wesleyan University

Over the last eight weeks observing the nursing staff on the respiratory floor at Germans Trias, I learned more about myself along with lessons to take back with me as a future nurse in the US. I was paired with a nurse on this floor, Judith, who had been working at Germans Trias for thirteen years. Most of my time observing Judith was on the ICU, or UCI, side of the respiratory floor.

Almost all of the patients had tracheal stomas containing tracheal tubes for their severe pulmonary dysfunctions, therefore, making it hard for me to personally understand the communication taking place. Yet, Judith expressed her patience and compassion with every single patient that was unable to speak or form words so that all of her patients knew exactly what was going on and that they were in good hands within her care. This was the first lesson I learned, patience. Not only was the lesson of patience taught throughout Judith’s relationships with her patients, but also when she was working with me.

The language barrier was difficult at first because she did not know English very well. She was patient with me when I would ask her questions about a procedure, even if she was busy trying to move on to the next task for the day. She would stop, explain, act out, or even draw a picture for me to understand what was going on. I was so grateful for the help in understanding to help enhance my prior knowledge as well as learn new material.

Every day I came back to the eighth floor, I was excited to learn something new because Judith was eager to teach me about routine skills that nurses all over the world share. The first of which was about the monitor cables that measure the patient’s heart and lung status. She taught me where the pads went and which colors correspond with each pad, and it sounds silly, but learning about where to put each monitor and actually placing them on a patient was thrilling to me since the majority of the time I just watched at the side. It was also very kind of Judith to let me do the little things, even if it was placing stickers and cables on a patient after a bed bath. Which leads me to the next lesson, compassion. I saw some things I never expected to see while simply observing, ranging from a near-death experience to a mother whose kids never came to visit her. The near-death experience actually happened my first day of observation and I was uneasy during the situation because the patient was breathing slower and slower and I wasn’t sure what was going on. However, the nurses and other medical staff did everything they could from changing the patient’s position to fanning his face to try to get some air flowing. The mother of this patient was very concerned during the episode and I witnessed multiple nurses coming to her side explaining everything to her and giving her a shoulder to lean on and someone to put her trust in. Secondly, when I witnessed a patient upset about her kids not coming to visit, I saw the compassion that Judith and the nurses showed for their patient by just talking to her and being there to listen. Not only were the nurses compassionate during their one-on-one time with the patients, in the hallways patients would come up and just talk to the nurses and they would laugh and smile and show they cared which created a respectful and caring atmosphere in the hospital.

Each day I got the hang of the daily routine that a nurse would have on this particular floor at Germans Trias, and it got me very excited for my future as a nurse. My clinical observations taught me patience and compassion by observing the care of Judith and the other nurses on the floor, however, this experience taught me something bigger than just what it looked like to be a good nurse. I learned that being a nurse is exactly what I want to do with my life and what I want to do for others. I was inspired by the patience, compassion, and knowledge I gained during my time on the eighth floor of Germans Trias Hospital and I will forever remember the impact this experience gave me for my future career as a nurse.

Kira Jackson

Kira is from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad through a Customized Program in Spring 2018.