On June 30th, I said a sad goodbye to my first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Cardiology Clinic. I will miss the amazing team there, not to mention the kids who truly made it all worthwhile. I have taken away so much from this co-op, but here are the main things that I have learned that are truly applicable to any co-op in any field.
1. I have developed my communication skills. The clinic is truly a team environment that depends on information sharing and full communication when something goes wrong. Many patients see multiple providers in one day, and many see other departments within the hospital as well. In my role, I have to be able to effectively communicate any concerns or questions as soon as possible, since I am usually the first person to see the patient. Over these six months I have grown comfortable speaking with all providers up to and including physicians about patients and their needs. The importance of this was proven to me when I noticed a baby was losing oxygen in his blood to 60% and below in my care. If I hadn’t said anything to the nurse, that patient could have been in a dangerous situation. But because I escalated my concern, the baby got better care and was eventually admitted. At the beginning of co-op, I would have been nervous to approach the nurse, especially in our busier times. But now I am confident enough to approach the team about various issues. In the workplace, if you see something, say something: it will benefit the team and show your knowledge.
2. My time management has also improved. I know which providers take longer in appointments and who likes to have their patients ready quickly. As a result, I am able to quickly make decisions about who to put in rooms vs. who to leave in the waiting area, or which patient I should get vital signs on first. I know this skill is even more valuable on an inpatient unit, so I am glad to have gained it early on. Understanding the “flow” of tasks given to you and successfully completing them on time is crucial. It also means you might have extra time to understand what you are doing as opposed to rushing through tasks so quickly that you don’t gain any knowledge.
3. I have learned so much about the decision making skills a nurse needs. They need to be able to synthesize information from so many different sources and present their findings to other providers in an accessible way. Since I have not been on clinical yet, I have less experience with gathering information pertinent to nursing, like a patient history. I know that much of this knowledge will come from clinical and my classwork, but some will also come from observing the nurses on the job. I feel more empowered to ask them questions about how they arrived at a certain conclusion now that I am farther along in my nursing education.
4. I have also gained knowledge about the importance of nursing research. At BCH almost all of the nurses are involved in research projects run by either the hospital or individual clinicians. I find this work fascinating and I am hoping to get involved myself when I become a nurse. To improve my skills in this area I will be looking for more opportunities through Bouve to get involved in projects.
I will truly miss this co-op and I can’t believe it went by so fast! Your first co-op is so important to your overall learning experience: make sure to listen, take it all in, and make a name for yourself! It’s never too early to make a great impression.
Julia Thompson is a third year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and just completed her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.