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Learning on the job

Published November 2, 2012 6:13 PM by Lorenzo Ortega

So far this semester, the ICU has taught me so many things about pathophysiology. I remember always hearing other students talk about how much they would learn in our early med/surg clinicals. I always looked at them somewhat perplexed because I never felt this way. Now with a world of theory behind me, I have been able to see the presentation of disease on multiple levels thanks to the complex interplay of bodily systems in the ICU. Sepsis, diabetes, and cerebral hemorrhage are only a few that I have witnessed, but understand so much more. The hardest thing about the ICU was familiarizing myself with the devices and technology. Although still working on this I have seen my mastery increase each week.

One of the most shocking things I have noticed in the ICU is the youth of some of my patients. About half of the patients I have cared for thus far have been below the age of 60. A common theme among these individuals is either diabetes, hypertension, or both. With these two conditions unusually common in today's world, it amazes me at how devastating they can be to an unsuspecting individual.

A recent patient of mine was admitted for DKA. Sadly, his diabetes had caused so many other issues that his life would be changed forever. An amputation and dialysis was needed during his hospitalization, all because of poor health maintenance. Fear of medical providers is a phobia held by many people in our society. It would be one issues if they were able to practice health life styles and have this fear, but many damage their body while holding this fear. Other issues such as access to health care and affordability contribute to this problem. Many times when a health issue is identified for these people it's too late. As nurses its our job to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. Those with bad hospital experience many be reluctant to return to seek medical attention until the last moment, when at that time, nothing more can be done.

posted by Lorenzo Ortega

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