Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

How to Achieve Success in a Health Degree Program-- Part II/More About a Source of Inspiration

I wanted to be able to write some long and wonderful post about my first day back to RT school, the start of my second semester, and etc. However, the truth is, today wasn't all that interesting. To make a long story (or day) short, I sat in a classroom for about 8 hours learning all about HIPAA, various policies for clinicals, and the procedures for charting at the different clinical sites at which we will be doing rotations. As excited as I am about starting clinicals, today was far from exciting. We do clinicals two days a week, at a number of facilities, but my first day to actually provide patient care in the clinical setting is January 28th. I'm sure I'll have more to say about it then.

A while back, I wrote a simple but somewhat useful post titled, "How to Achieve Success in a Health Degree," my small contribution to the students out there on sharing what I have learned through my experiences in school. I intended for this to be a two-part post, but somewhere in the mix of family and slaving over textbooks for RT School, I never got around to part II.

* * * *

So, here it is. I give you...

How to Achieve Success in a Health Degree Program, Part II

Trust Yourself. It seems simple enough, right? Wait until you are at the bedside on your first day of clinicals (or later in the program) and your patient is crashing fast. And patients can and do crash FAST. You have a deep feeling that you know exactly what is wrong and exactly how to fix it. However, you start to doubt that what you think isn't the right thing to do. When you're holding someone's life in your hands, you are often busy thinking of "Plan B," the next move you make when your first plan has failed. That's right. Under the bright lights of trauma, things seem to happen so quickly, as they should. It is a very rare occasion that you will have time to sit back and look at the patient's chart, pondering what to do. Who to call. How to stabilize your patient. Protocols. What you can and cannot do.

You have to basically map out what you are going to do to maintain a patient's airway, and you have to know what to do if it doesn't work out as planned. Respiratory Therapy School (or whatever degree program you're attending) has been preparing you for this point. Remember all those hours spent in class and the countless hours you spent reading, studying, and re-reading, only to do it all over again for the next unit covered in class? Well, it comes in handy right about now.

You can't simply think you know what to do and the patient is magically stable enough to be transported to Intensive Care. You have to know. Trust yourself. Any amount of time that you spend doubting your skills and abilities are critical to this patient's health. If you cannot trust yourself and listen to your instincts, well, one could only imagine the most severe outcome. How long can someone sustain life with an O2 sat of 70% before they go into respiratory arrest? Minutes?

You may be, "Just a student," but that doesn't mean that you do not know how to handle a situation like this. It doesn't make you any less capable. It should not mean that you sit there questioning your instincts in a situation that you have only read about but never seen. That's why you read about it... To know how to handle it.

However, don't confuse trusting yourself with being overly confident. The latter can be most detrimental to the health of your patient. This is why you are a student, and this is what you are here to do: Learn. NEVER STOP LEARNING. This is what your clinical adjuncts are for, and this why you are assigned to work with a therapist. Which brings me to my next bit of advice:

Ask questions.
I'm sure we've all heard this time and time again in our lives so far. Whatever it is, never be afraid to ask. Don't let anyone intimidate you, especially to the point where you don't want to ask them questions. If this occurs, seek out someone who has the answer. Or seek the answer on your time. The bottom line is, you don't ever want to be without an answer that is at your fingertips.

Even if it something you see that is so incredibly rare (which happens a lot in the medical field,) and you think you'll never see it again in your career, you'd much rather know the answer in case you run across a similar problem in the future . You'd want to know. Be proactive with your schooling, and know that you'll never learn everything you need to know. Even when you think you have learned it all, there is always room to learn more.

If you ask any respiratory therapist, or nurse, or doctor, what is the most dangerous thing a student, new grad, or even a seasoned health professional can do when they are unsure, I guarantee you the answer is something to the effect of, "Not asking questions." Think about it. If it was you or your loved one in the hospital, would you want to have someone caring for you that is unsure of a certain aspect of your care, but does not ask someone with the answer, or seek it out on their own? Absolutely not.

Do not become timid, but become the opposite of it. Keep asking until you have sought out the correct answer. Better yet, if it isn't an emergent situation, do your own research. This will help you remember the answer and feel proud that you found it for yourself. In combining the first part of this post with the second, the key to success in the clinical setting is this, "Trust yourself, but if you don't have the answers, seek them out."

And this, my friends, is how to achieve success in a health degree, in your career, in life. Good luck with the second semester, everyone!

* * * *

A Source of Inspiration is now hosted on Blog Carnival. You can check this page to view information about the carnival, what type of submissions will be included in the carnival post, and information on themes for upcoming editions. You can even find out who is hosting future editions.

There is also a page on Blog Carnival exclusively for submitting posts to A Source of Inspiration. You fill in a few simple blanks, and you post is on its way to me, or whoever happens to be the host of the next edition. I predict great things and only great things coming out of this carnival.

Let's work together to make this the Best of Respiratory Therapy on the Web, in One Simple Location.

Oh, did I mention that Blog Carnival has an RSS feed just for A Source of Inspiration carnival posts? Yeah, it's great. Click here to subscribe to the posts, no matter who hosts them.

As always, there is more to follow at a later date. Right now, I'm working with @staticnrg about getting some sidebar images that people can post on their blogs in support of the cause. The more posts, the more readers, the better the carnival. In the meantime, anyone interested in spreading the word is welcome to use any one of the six banners located in my Picasaweb Album to post on their blog(s).

blog comments powered by Disqus