Shannon Christian

In this weekly blog, staff reporter Shannon Christian writes about the myths of healthcare and how it impacts students.

Dr. Germ: exposure effect

Blood, urine, and seeping wounds are all part of the job in health care. While these bodily fluids, and sometimes bodily solids do not waver my confidence or cause me external disgust, working in an environment that constantly feels dirty is a mental hurdle that many, including myself, struggle with. 

Hemophobia, the fear of blood, is surprisingly common amongst healthcare workers, affecting 3-4% of the U.S.’s population. I’ve noticed that many people are terrified of large amounts of blood, and since I currently rotate at the nursing home, I don’t have to worry about total blood loss or ginormous seeping wounds like you would see in a hospital. Instead, a lot of the blood I have seen has been related to surgeries and the scars of recovering residents. I’ve seen a colostomy bag, which acts as a shortcut for the resident’s digestive tract in which bowel movements collect in the bag instead of moving through the intestines. Colostomy bags have an opening on the abdomen which can become infected and a bit sensitive. 

Blood for myself has not been particularly challenging in this new environment that I’ve been assisting in, however constantly changing soiled briefs was a tough hurdle for me to overcome.

I realized very quickly that the only way to overcome anxiety in a patient-care environment is to volunteer to help out, and involve yourself in any way that you can. A few of the CNAs that I had shadowed had wanted to complete their work promptly, and not have us students help out, and that is when I started asking to complete skills myself such as helping a resident up or dressing them. By asking and involving myself in the care process, I was able to become more comfortable in completing skills and interacting more with the residents on an individual basis. 

Once I was more involved in the care process, and coming into contact with more residents, the actual difficult, and sometimes a bit dirty circumstances began to occur, such as dealing with residents who had accidents (sometimes while you’re completing a skill), I was able to feel comfortable managing care without feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It is notable that a lot of confidence in healthcare comes from a shared experience, luckily I am usually paired with another student, so that we are able to check each other and assist a resident efficiently and safely.

For me especially, by challenging myself to complete tasks that I was anxious about, and fully throwing myself into the resident’s care, I was able to alleviate my anxieties and reservations about patient care. 

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