JUST CALL ME THE QUEEN OF PLAY-DOH! Just kidding. But, I have to admit... my time during this psychiatric mental health rotation was dominated by my popular Play-Doh table. I also have to admit that working with mental health patients is not my forte, but I did learn a whole lot during this rotation. My clinical instructor was excellent in explaining our role as nursing students in creating a therapeutic milieu. This site focused on creating a relaxed setting for participants (patients), but also one that was structured with group sessions and interactive activities in the common space areas.
As my instructor would say, to the untrained eye, it would appear as if I was just playing with Play-Doh with some patients. It did basically feel like that to me during the first week. However, as the time progressed, I learned that this simple nursing intervention of being present was sometimes all a patient really needs. There is so much in non-verbal communication that I did not make much of a deal about until this rotation. For myself, I know that I am alright with silence, not having to constantly probe with questions and comments, so it was comfortable enough for me to simply mold some Play-Doh with patients who were non-verbal.
I learned to SLOW THINGS DOWN during this rotation. It's so simple for nurses (health care providers in general) to walk into a patient's room and instantly ask -- when was your last bowel movement? have you eaten today? are you allergic to anything? etc, etc.
However, during these past 5 weeks, I learned how simple questions like, "Who taught you how to make pasta?" could lead into a patient slowly telling you about his or her mother, and then from that, getting more into their personal lives... only if they feel the desire to share this information with you, that is. Sometimes, it's not so much of the probing and wanting to fix the patient kind of attitude, but more of... just being there for them and providing them with whatever interaction they need. Whether it just be a simple wave hello and a fist bump, or a game of dominos in silence. (By the way, I learned how to play dominos for the first time during this rotation!)
All in all, what an eye-opening 5 weeks! I met individuals living personality disorders, paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. Despite living with these mental illnesses, they manage to go about their lives and get the help they need. And that is inspiring.
Up next after the new year, MED-SURG!
Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!
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