Life’s Not-So-Little Tests

Ellie, a friend of mine (not her real name), is in nursing school and she was telling me about one of her recent hospital rotations. She was excited to start the rotation, but her buzz was killed by a human joy-crusher named Helga (not her real name).

Helga was the veteran nurse Ellie would be shadowing during her stay at the hospital. For one whole week Ellie would be as close to Helga as her deodorant (although it sounds like she didn’t wear any). Quickly into the rotation, Ellie learned that Helga was not what you would call a “people person.”

Helga never talked to Ellie, expect to tell her to clean bedpans. When Ellie would ask to see a patient’s chart, Helga would scoff and shake her head no.

Ellie spent the whole week doing grunt work and being treated miserably. She didn’t get to give out shots, chart files or do any of the important things nurses are supposed to do. From a formal education standpoint, it was a waste of time.

But it may end up being the most important week of her nursing school life.

See, Ellie was put with Helga on purpose. Ellie’s supervisor said that Helga is known for being difficult and moody and she wanted to see how Ellie would handle a challenging co-worker.

The supervisor explained that no matter how much Ellie studies and learns, there are no textbooks that will prepare her for working with real people. That is learned by experience. Especially experiences like Helga.

Ellie didn’t enjoy the week from Hell-ga (yes, I picked this fake name so I could use this bad joke), but she did learn a lot. She learned that even in the worst of times, she still wants to be a nurse. That is knowledge she would not have gained from looking at charts and giving shots.

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