Caleb V. Harral Submitted 2017-08-20 00:00:00 -0400
On October 31st, 2010, I finally passed my exams to become a certified nursing assistant. As an eighteen year old, I thought that this was the most grueling process I had ever been thought in my life. Now, as I am now twenty-five, working as a full-time student to become a Bachelor’s Degree Registered Nurse, I wish I could go back to those simpler times. I thought I had my whole life figured out, but through several twists and turns, and furthering my education, I have learned more about life, and the sacredness of life than I thought possible.
When you take you take your CNA course, one of the first things that they teach you, is Basic Life Support or BLS. I remember spending a whole week of class doing compressions on mannequins and a ventilator to resuscitate my make believe patient. My fellow classmates and I celebrated each time the computer announced that we had saved our patient. With this experience on my mind, I was excited to start my journey into my medical career. I got my very first full time job at a local assisted living center. At first I was disappointed. This wasn’t the life I thought it was going to be. I had imagined a glamourous ER room with flashing lights and the constant adrenaline rush as I was saving lives on a regular basis. Instead, I was cleaning dentures, dressing residents, calming down the confused dementia patient, and taking care of folks my grandparent’s age. Where was all the CPR and ventilating? It wasn’t until a year later that I realized the importance of my position. I was not longer, “Just a CNA” as I held the hand of one of my patients as he took his last breath, thanking me for being his family that day. As I performed post-mortem care, I had so much more respect for the man that lay before me. The patient’s family had been notified and had come by to say goodbye to their family member, and the chosen morgue had come to collect my patient. It amazed me that we can live our whole lives, just to have the whole dying process take a few hours.
Now as I am taking my ACLS, ventilator training, EMS, and other life-saving skills, I take a step back and remember how I felt that day before I enter a room. I have now performed life saving measures on countless patients, many times in my short career. Many patients have lived and made a full recovery, while others have passed on. During my rotation in emergency medicine, I appreciated the level ground that every patient arrives on. When a life is at stake, the social status of a patient plays no role in the care that they receive. Every life is treated with the uttermost respect and importance. Emergency medicine also has the power to bring a whole team together, where every single person has the same goal. In my very first code, I was so nervous standing next to more experienced nurses. Even though I was not able to participate in the direct patient care, I was able to perform the critical role as a runner, and charted the processes being used in front of me. Basic chest compressions and ventilations that I had learned years ago at a young age, were being used right in front of me. Throughout the weeks and rotations, I was fortunate enough to be able to use my BLS and ACLS training and participate in saving a patient’s life. However, without taking the baby steps I had to get there, I do not think I would have been able to perform as well as I did or understand the importance of my role.
Even though I am a different man than I was at 18, I am grateful for my certified nursing assistant experience. If any other nursing students are like me, then I’m sure they have also built up high expectations of our future careers. I’m sure some careers and days are all about the flashing lights and chest compressions. However, I try not to forget about the other part of Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support; end of life care. I look forward to continue to further my education and graduate as a register nurse to continue to make a difference in patient’s lives, perform life-saving cares, and also be there for the patients that move on from this life. I am grateful for my past experience and also excited for the knowledge and insight that I will gain from these wonderful life saving techniques and processes.