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Reflections from the Hospital: Navigating Patient Contact as a Future Registered Nurse

Finding Joy in Patient Contact

One aspect of nursing that I've grown to cherish deeply is the patient contact. As I progress towards becoming a registered nurse, I've been reflecting on how this vital element might shift in my future role. In Sweden, the setup often places "undersköterskor" (assistant nurses) at the forefront of patient care. If you're unfamiliar with this term, I recommend reading my blog post,

"My First Week at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton", where I delve into the differences in nursing roles across two countries.

Patient Care in Sweden vs. Canada

Assistant nurses in Sweden handle almost everything that a registered nurse does, excluding medication administration and a few specific procedures, depending on the unit. This setup means that they are often the closest to the patients, fostering strong, continuous contact. Now, as I start caring for my own patients, I revel in the comprehensive oversight I have regarding their nursing care. This holistic view enhances my ability to deliver tailored and effective care, a responsibility I value immensely.

However, I do miss the close connection with physicians that I experienced in Sweden. Here, doctors perform rounds similar to those in Sweden, but there isn't an official meeting between the primary nurse and the attending physician. On the 6th surgical unit, nurses are at the helm, effectively running the show. Doctors visit their patients but often leave quickly, creating a fleeting interaction.

Communication with Physicians

Interestingly, the hospital utilizes a system called secure chat, which allows nurses to communicate directly with the physician in charge via text messages. While I appreciate the convenience of this system and prefer it over phone calls, it lacks the depth of a face-to-face conversation. Paging is another method to summon doctors, but it too feels somewhat impersonal although practical at times.

Mentorship and Trust

My mentors have shown great trust in me by allowing me to take care of my patients without constant supervision. Often, I found myself running after my supervisors or other nurses to double-check, working side by side while they manage their own patients. This level of trust was empowering and indicative of the supportive environment on the unit. The community feeling and work ethic on this unit are exceptional. They laugh and joke with each other while paying meticulous attention to their patients. They seamlessly cover for each other during breaks, and their smooth handovers are awe-inspiring. My partner and I wrote our thesis (Lund University) on handovers and patient safety, a topic I am deeply interested in.

Learning Through Experience

By not being supervised the whole time I have to learn some things the hard way. One example is how to change IV lines on a patient. My Canadian colleague do it with such ease while I managed to get both myself and my lovely patient completely wet from the saline. Good thing I had told the lady from the beginning that it was her lucky day since she got to assist a Swedish student trying to learn the Canadian health system. I asked my mentor during the break what I did wrong, and she laughed. "Did you change the line with the bag still hanging?" she asked. When I said yes, she replied, "Yep, then it will leak. You have to take the old bag down and bend it to the side to 'fake' lock it." Now that seems very logical—so easy to be smart afterward. To not get air in the lines, you have to keep the new bag above your head. Oh well—practice makes progress, so hopefully by the end of this, I'll make it look as smooth as the rest.

GI Tract and Post-Op Recovery

All our patients have problems with the digestive tract, so I am learning a lot about the GI tract and post-op recovery. When I first heard I was going to be at the surgical unit, I was a little scared since I thought I would be in the surgery room and I have no idea what the surgical instruments are called and even less what they use them for. Luckily, I was placed on the pre- and post-op unit. We get patients that have scheduled surgeries as well as those from the emergency department.

Building Patient Relationships

During my time here, I had the sweetest patient to take care of, and I love hearing their stories and sharing mine with them. If you are reading this, thank you so much for your patience and for bringing my time her so much joy.

Taking Breaks in the Park

For some reason, I am the odd Swedish girl that goes out to the lovely park in front of the hospital on every break. I am trying to get my new unit friends to join me, but they look at me like I am crazy. At least it gives me a lot of time to finally read a book, which I am deeply enjoying.

Canada Day Celebrations

As we continue to immerse ourselves in the Canadian experience, we ended up in the middle of Canada Day celebrations. Canada Day, celebrated on July 1st, marks the anniversary of the confederation when Canada became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire in 1867. The day is filled with national pride, festivities, and a sense of community.

Hamilton has for the last week offered several free festivals. We have enjoyed live music, delicious vegan food and we are really getting to know the streets of Hamilton since we use the little scooter to get everywhere. Luna, who loves to wave to the police, was especially excited when one of the Hamilton police officers stopped to talk to her and Veda. When I asked if we could take a photo, the officer kindly stepped out of his car to pose. Just lovely.

Final Thoughts

As I continue my journey in nursing, I find myself balancing the benefits and challenges of different systems. While I value the direct patient care and comprehensive oversight I have now, I miss the deeper physician interactions. Each system has its strengths, and navigating these dynamics will undoubtedly shape my approach to patient care as a future registered nurse. Embracing the cultural aspects of living in Canada, such as the joyous Canada Day celebrations, adds an enriching dimension to our experience here.

Tip of the Day: Embrace the Learning Process

"Every new experience, whether it's a success or a mistake, contributes to your personal growth. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek help—each step brings you closer to mastering new skills and achieving your goals. Remember, practice makes progress!"


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