Dr. Germ: complex implications 

In+this+weekly+column%2C+staff+reporter+Shannon+Christian+writes+about+the+myths+of+healthcare+and+how+it+impacts+students.

Shannon Christian

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

Shannon Christian, Staff Reporter

Prior to Thanksgiving break, I spent my last two shifts at the nursing home that I had rotated at for six weeks. At this facility I was able to interact with patients for the first time, and learn the importance of care on a comfort level, beyond clinical. I was able to become confident in conversation as well as in my own clinical skills, however, upon returning to my CNA class this week, I realized that I lost confidence as well. 

The prerequisite for attending rotations at the nursing home was to pass a mock CNA exam. This includes a clinical portion in which you complete three randomly assigned skills from memory, and then a written 60 question multiple choice exam. I had felt exceptionally prepared for this initial exam, and done well on it, but after six weeks of rotation I felt that I had forgotten most of what I had learned in the classroom. 

On rotation, skills and procedures done were completed in record time, to accommodate the resident. Additionally, each facility has their own practices in the sense that they use wipes instead of washcloths when cleaning a resident, or that they tuck every inch of a sheet under the mattress. It was these quirks and usual ways of going about rotations that superseded the precise skills I had learned. For the CNA exam, for example, you must use four washcloths during a bedbath, but most of the bathing given at the nursing home was in a shower with a loofah and a showerhead rather than a basin. 

I realized that I had to overcome these habits I had gotten used to, and that I must spend time relearning skills based on the specificity of our textbooks that are written in accordance with the Texas State CNA exam

Additionally, this week I felt a waver in my confidence after a conversation with a friend in the medical field over dinner. He had known of my interest in medicine, specifically neuroscience, and decided to interview me based off his experiences with jobs and medical schools. “Why do you want to be a doctor?” and “What is so special about neuroscience to you?” Two questions that I had thought about often, yet it seemed that verbally articulating my reasoning for pursuing these fields was harder that I had imagined.

I spewed sentiments about living my whole life for service and that I had a purpose in helping others, especially helping those with neurological disorders to feel understood and treated. I discussed my interest in women’s health and learning more about a woman’s mind and relating it to her overall physical health. All that my acquaintance responded with was “You might want to workshop those answers, they’ve heard it all before.” My thoughts aligned with the idea that these were probably popular answers because it was my truth, and the truth of many other individuals. Are we expected to lie in order to be unique or stand out? That would raise complex indications regarding motives for students entering the profession. I believe that someone who is truthful about their passion deserves to pursue it and provide for that field with their ambition. 

I’d never truly felt any loss of interest in the field, but the past week has taught me that a loss of confidence is possible. Challenges have always caused me to hone my focus and help me to remember that the journey toward my career is long. This week though, was a test on both my patience and determination in truly starting that difficult journey. There will be times where I forget important skills, and have to practice with immense dedication to master them. There will also be times where I will feel singled out, and my intentions will be questioned. While these experiences had made me feel dejected in the moment, learning how to overcome them now will hopefully aid me throughout my journey in medicine. Taking these hits to my confidence with a grain of salt allows me to strengthen my passion and feel prepared for whatever challenges may come my way.