Service learning project

The clinical experience in FirstStepps NYS is one of the highlights of my learning process this semester. In order to become a professional nurse one should start from basics such as appropriate attire/dress code (certain color uniform which is neat and ironed-I learned that a well-kept nurse is really better accepted by clients) and being on time (time is gold in nursing). It is very important to be prepared and take responsibility for own learning: in clinical setting we have to be up to date with assignments and be prepared, in real world the nurse is in charge of keeping skills fresh (going over Foley catheter insertion if you haven’t done in a while will come in handy on the busy med-serge unit). Also, it is imperative to be eager to learn and ask questions. New nurses should use mentors and fellow nurses to their advantage and be curious, learning never stops for nurses- especially if a nurse is not sure about something-s/he has to ask. One good thing I learned so far at school and at work is that you would look more “stupid” if you make a mistake without asking (it’s better to come off as annoying, than compromise client care just because you don’t know the proper technique or policy and are afraid to ask).

The current clinical experience helped me expand my pediatric nursing skills. Children need different approach than adults. You have to be able to use distraction in the form of play to perform any kind of assessment; it is useful to watch kids in their natural element. The way they play and interact with each other and authority figures can say a lot about development. Culturally based approach is very important too. I have representatives of African American, Hispanic and Muslim cultures and I have to use my critical thinking skills in order to find approach to each one of those kids. I definitely learned patience (children can be a handful) so one has to learn tolerance to effectively communicate with kids. Patience towards parents is a special aspect as well. Sometimes as a healthcare provider and a mother you would find things in parenting that lack certain “standards”. Judgment has no place in nursing, you have to work with what you have and try and make a different in the most polite and understanding way.

Watching how teachers at FirstStepps communicate with children helped me develop my own therapeutic communication skills. Attention span of kids is limited and as a nurse you have to get your point across gently, with as little words as possible and make sure a child really understood the point. You might need to ask again, repeat your point and ask a child to repeat back (especially during sensitive times such as time-out, kids should know why they are being punished).

The project that we did helped me utilize my teaching skills. Teaching is a big part of nursing. I am pretty good in one on one teaching sessions at my job right now, but our presentation experience showed me that my presenting abilities are limited. I have to work on getting over the stage fright and be able to speak in front of the audience. This is important especially if you want to further your career from nursing to management or education.

The use of technology at FirstStepps is strictly controlled. We cannot use our phones which is a common sense. In the environment where kids are involved, use of technology is especially serious topic since child safety can be at risk (taking a picture of a child is a total no-no because some kids are in foster care or under supervision of child protective services).

I learned that community health nurse has to use evidence-based practice as a cornerstone of her/his service. The nurse has to be familiar with the clients who live in the community as well as challenges or strengths that the community might have, all of which require research to be involved. Another point taken by me is that lifelong learning is something that’s unavoidable and will not stop when the last degree I earn is finally issued.

The mission of FirstStepps is providing quality care and education for underprivileged children. Also, the organization strives to prevent developmental delays, paying special attention to speech and nutrition.

Collaboration with clients and team work are two things I got to practice as well. During our project preparation, we had to work as a team with my classmates in order to make the project worth presenting. We were able to assess for the need for teaching on the connection of stress and heart disease in children. We divided the roles accordingly and put together decent learning session that will hopefully come in handy for parents. We provided the list of referrals as well. Nurses are often in charge of connecting clients with appropriate services and agencies. They spend more time with clients and know them better, so consequently are better fit to make referrals than physicians, or they may give recommendation to physician as necessary

Finally I learned about how being financially underprivileged would affect the quality of healthcare one would get. Unfortunately, I learned how levels of certain conditions such as asthma, obesity, developmental delays, and speech impairments are much higher in people living at poverty levels. The purpose of FirstStepps is to prevent bad health consequences from developing in kids. Areas such Brownsville need a lot of work in terms of availability of fresh air, food stores with fresh produce or availability of healthcare services. Community nurses can directly affect the outcomes and hopefully make the health of whole community better.

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