I just entered the last patient’s HIPPA approved information into my school’s logging system for the week. This was the first full week of clinical time at the pediatrician’s office, and I look back amazed at what I have learned in a few short days. Well, the days themselves weren’t short, a standard eight hours, but in the grand scheme of things a week is nothing.
But what a difference! When my preceptor first said “Okay, go see this patient”, I felt that sinking feeling you get when a police cruiser lights up behind your car. “By myself?” I asked. Keep in mind I have been a nurse for a long time and have done assessments on paranoid schizophrenics, dying hospice patients, prison inmates, etc. for YEARS. In this situation, I am suddenly an almost clueless rank beginner, and the thought of a simple assessment seems like a world-shaking task. Silly me.
It is always worse in anticipation than reality. Now, after a week, that moment when you knock on the exam room door isn’t scary anymore. I can go into a room with that previously dreaded anxious parent and little tot needing attention and actually know that I can be useful. I can actually see a tympanic membrane at least half the time, and know that magic wand, the tympanogram, is available to corroborate. It is actually becoming fun to play with the kids to warm them up so as to get more or less cooperation for the inspection of ears for potatoes. It seems that sore throats and earaches are all the rage this week, with an ocassional tummy ache thrown in for variety.
Kids are a blast. Sitting in the little office corner that is my spot during an off moment, I sipped at my coffee and heard childish giggles, and questions, and running feet all over the office. The periodic crying was usually due to vaccinations or the dreaded strep throat swab. It was actually a pretty happy sounding place in general. The exam rooms are named for the paintings on the wall in each one. The nurses will say: Ready in Beach, or the strep in Dinosaur is negative. I never got to go to work in my brightly colored lizard shirt before.
One little guy came in with a worried dad who told me the child had been sick for two days. The patient was energetic and very squirmy when I tried to examine him. I asked “Did you eat worms for breakfast? You are so wiggly!” The delighted child replied “Yes, I had lots of worms for breakfast!”