And Then My Head Exploded.

So there’s this girl I work with. And she’s in nursing school.
Before I begin, let me tell you- she’s a bit dim.
She thinks she knows it all…but, nevertheless, there’s some empty space up there. And I’m not trying to be mean by any means. Please don’t think that.

It’s just that this really topped the cake. Fresh icing. So, I will talk about it here. Because I don’t want to be catty and talk about it to people who actually know her.
Once again, she’s in nursing school also. She’s already got a degree so she is completing the two years for nursing stuff.
I asked her this morning how school was going.
Everything was going good apparently. Great!

Then she told me she’s only been in school 3 weeks and already has an exam on fluids and electrolytes.
Reasonable, I thought.
But then she said she didn’t think it was soon enough to have a test yet and what could they possibly test on??
Confused, I thought…well, you could have a whole test on just fluids and electrolytes. That’s a lot of information right there.

Before I could say anything, she continued.
“Yeah, and you know my health assessment class is kinda slow. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything. We learned how to give a bath and make a bed.”
I explained how the first semester is usually Nursing Aide stuff and it can be slow when you want to learn a bunch of skills. But you still have assessing to learn anyways.
To which she replied: “Oh yeah, they spend a lot of time on assessing. I mean, our end of the semester exam has a full head-to-toe assessment.”
I told her our school had that for a check-off at the end of the first semester also.

But THEN she said:
“It just seems like a waste of time. I mean, do nurses even assess anyways?”

And my head exploded.
Do they even assess anyways?! I don’t have enough font or capitals or colors to reasonably express, without being annoying, how far my jaw dropped to the floor. Do nurses assess? Really. Seriously.
Do you even know what you are going to school to learn how to do? What, exactly, do you think nurses do all day?

I stammered and quickly recovered.
Yes! Nurses assess! That drives everything. It’s the very basis of our care. We assess without realizing it. But you have to know how to do full head-to-toe so that if you know what’s normal, you can find what is abnormal. You assess even when you’re just talking to a patient and seeing their LOC (level of consciousness).Yada, yada, yada.

She responded:
“Oh. Really? Like assessing skin when giving a bed bath. I get it. Huh. I really thought it was, like, the nurse practitioner’s who assessed.”

Whatever else could explode, did. Little blood vessels I think.

“Yeah, but that’s that. But I was watching [insert name of night nurse] get out the blood and put it in the little bottles to send to the lab and I was like, man! I wish I could be doing that! You know, instead of boring head-to-toe assessments.”

There was nothing left of me, but a little puddle of shock.

I just…I don’t even know how to finish this post.


  1. What do you want to bet she’ll flunk out?

    • notratched
    • January 30th, 2010

    Yeah…it’s getting to the point that not only the public, but also nurses themselves, don’t know their scope of practice. Really, if she’s that clueless you have to wonder how she got into nursing school and how the faculty can allow that depth of ignorance to continue. At my school they were really clear about all that stuff. No one in my class would have thought that—even the really dim bulbs (and we had ours). My head would explode too.

    • I agree!! I can’t wrap my head around how you could not know that. My school was crazy about assessing. I mean, ADPIE- its the A! It’s not even the E. Geez.
      I’m glad to hear there are more exploding heads going around.

  2. Of course we don’t assess, we’re just there to look pretty for the doctors and do whatever they say! *facepalm*

  3. Whaaaa?!?!?! How can you be in nursing school and have no idea what nurses DO? I think NotRached has a point — nursing has a real big image problem.

  4. wow. That is crazy. I agree that nursing has a big image problem. There’s a book about it – “From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and must Communicate to the Public”. People like the young woman you described make me wonder about some schools’ no-interviewing policies. The school I am applying to (which shall remain nameless….) emphasizes that they DO NOT interview ANY of their applicants. This is a top nursing school, and no interviews. Personally, I think interviews can be priceless – you can assess passion, interest, personality…..I would think that in a profession like nursing, interviews would be mandatory. But, nope. oh well.

    • I totally agree with you about the interviews! This girl goes to school at The Old Well which is completely shocking to me as well. Interviews should definitely be mandatory.
      I’m gonna have to check that book out.

  5. Laney:

    Great post! Can’t wait to include it at CoS.

    Yes, I once told a coworker of mine’s husband that we are paid to notice details.

    If that ain’t part of assessment, nothing is!

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