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Being A Medical Student With The Nursabbit

The Nurssit, illustrated by Lynda Richardson
The Nursabbit, illustrated by Lynda Richardson

In this series, we have so far discussed one nurse species, the Alpha Nurse – a pragmatic, all-action being. However, nurses are a diverse genus, to the point where some species appear incomparable, polar opposites of Alphas. One such species is the Nursabbit.

They’re somebunny to look out for

Though fairly difficult to identify based purely upon appearance, they give themselves away during conversation and interaction.

When confronted by a student, the Nursabbit experiences a “rabbit-in-headlights” sensation, becoming nervous and uncertain on how to approach the strange outsider.

Sometimes, this lack of understanding of a student’s capabilities can make Nursabbits wary of trusting them to fulfill tasks safely. Given that consequences of any error would be primarily directed at the nurse, this is an understandable survival mechanism. To be fair, I’d think hard about entrusting a nervous-looking medical student with a catheter – wouldn’t you?

Don’t carrot all about Med School? Of course you do!

Unfortunately, this reflexive caution can get frustrating, as students often find themselves sidelined on exciting or challenging tasks. Few incidences are more annoying than volunteering to perform a skill on a patient, doing all the pre-skill preparations, obtaining consent from the patient and getting to the crucial “needle-in-hand” moment, only for the supervising Nursabbit to change his or her mind at the last second. They then take over the task and leave you looking foolish in the patient’s eyes. Although when I say “needle-in-hand” I mean holding the needle – if the needle is actually in your hand I can see why the Nursabbit doesn’t have much faith in your abilities.

This paradox of being too inexperienced to perform a skill, but being unable to gain experience without performing the skill,  can make completing essential skills problematic. It Making time spent with Nursabbits more laborious than pharmacology lectures. And that’s saying something.

Nursabbits – they’re all ears

In their defence, it isn’t their intention to embarrass a student. They don’t wake up in the morning and wonder if they can beat their record number of student shamings in one day. They are merely thinking “safety first” (a code hammered into all species, to the point where autopsy would reveal the words imprinted in bold on each individual’s frontal lobe), and if they’re worried that a patient is going to suffer unnecessarily through a student’s inexperience, they are arguably justified in stepping in.

Students working with Nursabbits should take the opportunity to make a friendly introduction. If they take an initial liking to you, they are more likely to trust you with tasks.

A second step is to improve the Nursabbit’s understanding of a student’s capabilities. This is done by showing them your list of skills to perform, demonstrating that others expect you to be able to achieve these tasks, alongside earning sympathy points when the nurse sees exactly what kind of tasks you’re expected to perform (12 labours of Hercules eat your heart out!).

The Nursabbit, like other nurse species, are mostly friendly – often it is simply lack of clarity in a student’s capabilities that provokes them to exclude students from involvement. A friendly, well informed understanding between medical student and Nursabbit will help maximise opportunities taken when in their company.

Uploaded by Eric Richardson on 6 May, 2016

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