Saturday, April 7, 2012

Expanded Experience Rosebud SD

This past week I was involved with an expanded experience with my school.  I had 3 days of clinical at a hospital on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and then 3 days out in the community with Public Health nurses. 

Living room commons area
Day 1: Our group arrived Saturday afternoon and checked out our housing, stuck around long enough to put our things in our rooms and then skedaddled to the grocery store for our week’s supply of food.  After that we had enough time to grab a quick bbq at our instructor’s house as well as a quick smudge (ceremonial burning of Sage for good thoughts and blessings for each of us) before heading over to the hospital to work a quick 1800-2200 shift.  During that time I got to share one patient with another nursing student because the hospital’s census was low.  Together we spent an 1.5 hours learning how to chart handwritten using the S.O.A.P.I.E. method S:subjective data, O:objective data, A:application, P:prevention, I:Intervention, and E:Evaluation.  I’ve been spoiled at my home town’s hospital because we chart by computer and use Exception charting.  Ultimately by the time we were done in the hospital I was getting the hang of it.  Later that night our room assignments were two women to each room and each room had two beds.  My best buddy Farrah and I shared a room next door to a couple of gals we wanted to get to know better CC and Katie during this trip so we stayed up late getting acquainted.  

Day 2: We slept in and had to be ready for church by 1100, visiting a Catholic church on Palm Sunday was incredibly long and I didn’t get much out of the message.  At one point the Priest mentioned that Jesus was a mistake, so after lifting my jaw off the floor I looked over at my new next door roommate CC, and she reminded me that throughout this week we may not agree with everything we see but to respect it anyway.  This was definitely a learning opportunity for me despite whether I agreed or not.  That afternoon we ate baked chicken at our instructor’s house and off to the hospital again 1400-2230.  This time I was stationed in L&D to help with two babies being born within a couple hours apart, one was a vaginal and the other a c-section.  I shed a tear after seeing the vaginal birth because once again I think life is such a miracle and getting to witness a baby being born is pretty darn awesome.  I was soooo excited seeing as though I’m developing such an interest in OB that I couldn’t contain my excitement.  To my surprise some of my classmates were jealous that they didn’t get to have the opportunity to see a birth like I did, but my nurse I was with just reassured me by telling me that I should grab every opportunity that comes my way in nursing school and not to let those “Debby Downers” bother me.  Later that night Farrah and I had girl time in our room with our new next door roommates CC and Katie.  We stayed up way too late bonding, because the clock said 0200 when we finally went to bed and we were expected back to the hospital by 0730.  Not much sleep but well worth the amount of giggles.

Day 3:  0630 rolled around way too early, I kicked myself for not taking a shower the night before.  We headed off to the hospital for our last day in-house, where I was assigned a baby to one of the mothers I helped birth the day before.  I was super thrilled to learn how to do a baby assessment from my nurse (I think this will help for when I apply for a new job soon, but more on that later).  I learned the trick of counting the heartbeat by tapping my finger to match the baby’s hr and watching the second hand on my watch.  I also was advised to gently place my fingertips on the baby’s chest to feel and look for respirations and most importantly to count a full minute because of irregularities.  I was able to give the baby their first bath and I got to lather on the baby lotion.  Yummm I love the smell of baby lotion, it makes me just want to smooch that little baby all day.  I wrapped the little one tightly in their receiving blanket and helped with latching on to mom for feeding.  My heart was soaring inside at such beauty.  Since we were done early that afternoon we headed off the reservation for dinner, lots of laughter filled the restaurant.  Being able to bond with my classmates helped with the slight homesickness that began to bubble up inside me.  That evening I had a heart-to-heart talk with CC regarding a past hurt friendship with Dori that I had been struggling to get over.  I haven’t written much about this friendship but I definitely was grieving over my decision not to be her friend anymore for quite some time.  We started our friendship when we both started college for our gen. eds. but over time I was continually being dealt the short end of the stick in the relationship with a crashing blow to end the friendship.  CC helped me to remember good things about our friendship and then she asked me to tell her something good about our friendship currently.  When I couldn’t think of anything she helped me to know it was okay to let the friendship finally go without guilt or hurt feelings.  CC helped me to find the closure I so desperately needed and helped me to finally be free.  I was so amazed at her wisdom and it felt good to start mending my broken heart for good.  

Day 4: Was my day off, I finished up work on a couple oral presentations that were due the following day and helped 5 other ladies prepare a large dinner for our evening’s guest speaker.  FYI, playing Limbo in the kitchen with too many cooks can be dangerous…dangerously fun that is hahaha!  Once again a late night venting/chit-chat session with the lady roomies was in order.  We commented to each other about how strange it was we were all getting along so well and how we didn’t ever want our friendship to end. 

Day 5:  This was my first day out in the community and I shared my time with the instructor and one other classmate.  We traveled to an elderly housing unit and set up a blood pressure screening.  Now I know this may sound unchallenging just sitting around doing vitals.  But what amazed me was how the instructor made an attractive health screening area out of nothing.  We walked into a room with a rectangle table and a few chairs and in a matter of moments she transformed the room into a professional area with just a few moved pieces of furniture.  My instructor helped assemble a line for the people to stand and wait to be seen.  The Lakota people know her and respect her, one man we passed on the way in said, “here are the nurses that help heal people”.  What an awesome reputation our instructor has out in Rosebud just by living in that area.  That evening we headed over to one of our instructor’s friend’s house to be involved in a Sweat Lodge ( you can read all about it here). This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me even though I didn’t pray to the American Indian Gods while the other tribe members in the hut were doing.  I prayed to God in Heaven that our group would find unity together, that our trip would be blessed with safe travels and that there would be healing with the patients we took care.  Our time in the sweat included passing and smoking a peace pipe that burned sage and tobacco.  Again whenever could I say that I had the opportunity to be handed a peace pipe from a tribal community member?  Um that’s right…the answer is never, so I participated.  Afterwards we came out of the tent dripping wet from sweat but feeling more spiritually connected and at peace.  We all had dinner in the log house near the sweat area for a big meal to include all of us students and tribal members before heading back to our housing for the night.

Day 6:  My last day in the community included 4 hours in the Women’s Health department at the Clinic.  Now originally before ever starting nursing school I thought nurses who worked in the clinic setting were cool and I wouldn’t mind a job like theirs.  However after my time in that area I wasn’t impressed.  One nurse took patients and checked them in by getting vitals and asking their symptoms while the other nurse helped the doctor by preparing the room for what he needed like opening the speculum from its wrapper or getting q-tips ready for catching samples.  BORRRIIINNNGGG!  I was so dog-tired from not being challenged that I thought for sure this wasn’t the place for me anymore despite my original thoughts.  We headed home for our last goodbye supper of lasagna and enjoyed our last night of girl time talking before we hit the hay.

Day 7:  We headed out on the road by 7am for a quick breakfast at our instructors house of pancakes and sausage.  Then we decided that since we were only a couple hours away from the Badlands that we would stop there before heading back home.  I have been to the Badlands one other time in my life when I was a girl, but didn’t remember much other than how massive the formations were.  This time going back as an adult was so very amazing!  I learned how to use the panoramic option on my cell phone camera and was pleased with how the pictures turned out.  I was kind of glad the sun wasn’t brightly shinning or we wouldn’t have been able to keep our eyes open.  We drove straight through on the way back home without stopping for the night and I was able to sleep in my bed last night.  Unfortunately about by day 3 I had developed a cold and now I believe it’s worked its way to my sinus cavity…ouch!  I’ll keep taking Sudafed and maybe see the doc on Monday for meds if I think I need them.

Overall my trip was filled with lots of experience within the clinical setting and out in the community, most importantly I was able to bond with 3 other women who I didn’t intend to love so much!


  1. What an awesome experience!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. That sounds amazing, makes me want to do the travel experience with my nursing school even more. Every year my university takes 15 student nurses to South America.

  3. I'm glad it was better than I imagined for you being away from home! I loved reading about it.

  4. Christine - this was such an awesome experience and I keep telling the under classmen that they should do it too.

    Nighthawke - South America would be amazing! If I were you I would ask myself will I ever have this opportunity again? If you answer yes then don't worry about feeling bad if you can't/don't want to go. But if you answer no, think seriously about trying new things and being open to new experiences. Life is short so take as many opportunities as you can. You never know where you'll end up!

    Dominique - Thanks I really had a better time than I even expected. We have a strong group of nursing students and without their strength I don't think I would have done as well.

  5. I loved this post. There are so many people in my class that I have just come to adore. Some of the younger ones are so precious. I hope that we all develop really close bonds that last. As for your lost friendship, I totally understand, I had a similar friendship & even though I still think about it every now & then I just have to realize that I have to love her from a distance.
    Glad you had such a great time, I hope I can experience something similar to that.