Making people and ideas findable
Week seven delivered a practical exam. Regardless of the fact that I’ve been preparing for this moment for two weeks and was able to sleep in an extra two hours due to the testing format, I was still slightly nervous. Who isn’t? Practical exams can be anxiety-producing nightmares.
On a written exam, even if you completely bomb the thing, you do not have to face your professor or fellow students at that time. Firstly, you’re nothing more than a student ID number attached to a bubble sheet, usually inconspicuously tucked between thirty other pages. Secondly, you can turn your test in, walk quietly out the door, and then blame your failure on a lack of sleep, poor test quality, or the incompetent professor giving you the dreaded form.
In a practical exam, however, you have no one to blame but yourself. Not only is this fact made abundantly clear, but it rapidly presents itself under the hawk like gaze of the professor who taught you the skill and the other students in your clinical group; all of whom, in case you were wondering, are nervously biting their finger nails to the quick and noting the mistakes you made, in hopes of
avoiding them when their day of reckoning arrives.
Thankfully, my exam was a breeze. There were a couple moments where it looked like my memory would fail me, but in the end, I passed with flying colors. Unlike the professor described above,
ours want us to do well. If it looks like nerves are going to get the best of us, they give us a nudge in the right direction. The students described, are fairly true to real life. It would be really foolish to not take advantage of learning from someone else’s mistake.
And, just as mentioned above, practical exams really are anxiety producing. Having the eyes
of the instructor upon you as you perform dressing changes and injections is unnerving. Even though you know they want you to succeed, it still feels as if they are watching for any and all mistakes, however minute. Further, you still want to be perfect and impress them. These are the women that I am, hopefully, going to be able to use as references for scholarships, intern and
externships, and jobs. I want them to find me competent.
Thankfully, it seems I might actually be capable. After three, long weeks in the lab, I have earned the privilege of patient care. Next week brings another daunting pile of clinical forms and a new patient to care for. Happily, it also comes with the added responsibilities of dressing changes and medication administration, the skills associated with the true, technical work of nurses.