Thursday, June 10, 2004


My first week of school is almost over. We have covered:
How to take a comprehensive health history (CHH)
How to measure vital signs
The "nursing process"
The respiratory system - major pathologies and how to assess
Nursing communication
Mobility issues (i.e. importance of exercise, mobility problems in older adults).
Basic chart keeping
In 4 days. 4 days! However, since there are only 45 days that make up this semester, it definitely counts.

I'm most proud that I know have a basic facility with measuring blood pressure. The funny thing about blood pressure is that you listen for five sounds: Sound #1 indicates the systolic pressure (the bigger number) and Sound #5 is the diastolic pressure (smaller number). However, sound #5 is (get this) not a sound at all! It is the absence of the 4th sound. Cute.

The physical exam/assessment process takes a lot of confidence. All of a sudden I'm in the position to touch people (we were learning how to lift a breast up to percuss (tap and feel vibrations) the anterior lungs today...) ask them difficult questions (sexual partners? drug use?) and be responsible for knowing something (help! nurse!). I have a while to grow into the role but not long (12 1/2 months and counting).

Tomorrow is the first clinical day. I am assigned to a "continuing care facility" (assisted living facility or, if you prefer, old folks' home) in the suburbs. Once there, I will be matched with a patient and begin asking him some of the hundreds of questions that make up a "complete health history."

Wish me luck!


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