“Clinical”…37,000 Feet in the Air

“Clinical”…37,000 Feet in the Air

Our glorious six-week winter break is over and it’s back to the grind.  Admittedly, I did very little over break.  I slept for about three days straight after finals (anytime I tried to stay awake I found myself drifting off and my eyes couldn’t stay open).  I was home for about three weeks and then I flew to Israel to hang out with friends and do more of…nothing.  Let me tell you though, this break of “nothing-ness” was the best thing to have happened to me since sliced bread.  For the first time in my academic career I really felt like I needed this time to recuperate before the spring semester.  I normally get restless over such a long vacation (we had six week breaks at University of Maryland, too), but this time was different.  This time was glorious.  I never set an alarm clock; I watched movies during the day; and I took naps when I couldn’t keep my eyes open while reading (can sleeping be considered a hobby? But can it be considered a hobby if you don’t feel like you do it enough?).

Anyways, the point is, I really did not do anything exciting over break and I am totally refreshed for this new semester.  I am definitely ready to undertake my new classes and the challenges that come along with them.

Oh wait, there was a peak to my break, but the days before and after are really just a blur in comparison.

Halfway through my flight to Israel (which is about nine hours) the pilot came over the intercom and asked if there was a physician on the flight to please report to a flight attendant.  I told a passing flight attendant that I was a nursing student if that helped and she said to follow her.  I followed her about 30 rows back to a woman who couldn’t sit up straight in her seat, she couldn’t keep her eyes open, and she was barely talking.  A doctor eventually came over and together we assessed the situation.  It turns out the woman took a Tylenol PM before the flight, but hadn’t eaten anything and was also emotionally stressed before the flight (said her neighbors sitting in her row).  We thought she had low blood sugar (all vitals we could take were normal) and so we had her sip some Coke.  I was the only female passenger assisting the woman and eventually she asked me if I’d help her get to the bathroom so she could throw up.  So, being the dedicated student that I am and good-intentioned citizen, I helped the woman into the airplane bathroom and held her head as she threw up into a plastic bag in the sink.  What?! Where was I? How did I get myself into this situation? I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, in the smallest bathroom alive, making sure this strange woman didn’t let her head fall into the sink filled with her throw up.  Is this what nursing is all about?! They don’t tell you this at the open houses!

To be honest I was happy to help and was told by the doctor after the woman sat back down that “What you did was very therapeutic.”  If it was so therapeutic, why did the doctor receive a bottle of wine for his assistance and not me?  But I don’t hold a grudge.  I remember going back to my seat after the woman felt better and thinking that that was actually one of the coolest experiences I’ve had.  Not that the woman was sick, but that I was able to help out and offer some actual assistance based on knowledge I had learned.  As I sat back in my seat and replayed the events in my head, I knew I had chosen the best (and let’s admit very awesome) career path.

I told some friends this story once I got to Israel and after I mentioned how the doctor was given a bottle of vino (none for me!) they all said, “Welcome to nursing!”  Even my friends in the States had the same reaction.  However, I didn’t get into this business for the alcohol.  I have no desire to diagnose and that is a major part of what doctors do.  I am also not interested in the responsibility they have and this incident on the airplane confirmed it.  While the doctor may have been delegating and was considered in charge, I took the woman’s blood pressure, pulse, assisted her in the bathroom and overall carried out a lot of what the doctor suggested.

As students I think we are constantly questioning if we are on the right path and after this break I can confidently say I feel like I am headed in the right direction.  Nursing, literally, is a global profession and can be taken to any country around the world and can benefit lives everywhere.  This was partly why I chose nursing (so I could have the option of helping others in other parts of the world).  As I go into my second semester I am keeping in mind the big picture of nursing and reminding myself that at the end of the day it’s not about the recognition, but about how well you do your job and take care of your patients.

Coastline of Israel

PS – I would like to give one of my roommates credit for coming up with the title of this post.

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe