Last week was my first week of summer classes (first week of eight, I should point out) and my first test (of a whole lot…). The test was on immunity which is a huge subject, to be sure. There was a lot of material to read through. I was really pleased with the grade I got, a 96. I wasn’t sure how well I would do initially because I changed how I was studying a bit. Most people would probably say that was a bad idea because I’ve been doing well so far with my current methods. However, when you have three days of material and a test, there is going to be a LOT of stuff to go through. More than what I really had time to learn completely.
My new method involves focusing in on what’s really important and looking over briefly the stuff that isn’t. But what is the important stuff, you might ask? Well, that part is easy. The important stuff is the details that I would need to know to take care of a patient with this condition. Seems obvious right? Well, let me give you some examples.
We spent a lot of time talking about the various immunoglobulins in the immune system. We were also supposed to know the functions of those immunoglobulins (there are five of them). I will admit that I don’t know the functions of those things. Now, I will go back and look it over again and eventually, I may learn all the functions. But as of right now, all I can tell you is that there are five of them (M, A, D, G, E) and I really only know two details. IgE is involved in allergic reactions and IgM and IgG are the two most common in the immune system. Why didn’t I learn the functions? Easy. It’s not relevant to taking care of the patient having immune system issues. It is good information to know, without a doubt. I want to know the functions, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not needed.
I looked over all my notes and skimmed through the reading and I found the pieces of information that are needed for patient care. I looked at the nursing diagnoses and thought about what kinds of details are important to look for in people with the diagnoses – if a person has inadequate perfusion, what symptoms will they manifest, for example, and how do you help them? And in doing that, I realized something that helped a lot.
I know a lot of this already.
I know, it made me stop suddenly too. I really do know a lot of this though. There are huge pieces that I don’t need to spend time going over again or only need to spend a little time on because they are already in my head. I just need to get them to the front of my brain. Taking care of the patient involves knowing their diagnosis, to some extent but more importantly, it means knowing how to treat their symptoms. It occurred to me that on the floor, often the nurses don’t know the diagnosis. The doctor may not have made one yet. They may have an idea of what’s wrong but sometimes, they’re wrong. They aren’t treating the patient by their diagnosis. They’re treating them based on their symptoms.
We spend a lot of time in class talking about the details of disease processes and those details are important. I am not suggesting they aren’t. In fact, in many cases, I am intrigued and I want to know more. That information could be really useful to both me and the patient. However, in treating the patient, from the nurses’ perspective, the diagnosis is secondary. After all, we don’t diagnose – we aren’t going to be doctors. We treat the symptoms the patient presents with and often, those things overlap.
Now, I have another test Wednesday and we’ll see if this new method of studying proves to be successful again. If not, I’ll have to reassess and see what to do differently. I really didn’t feel like the first test was difficult though and I think that’s telling since there was so much stuff in class. I’ll keep you all updated on the crazy that will be my summer semester (2 classes in eight weeks!). Hopefully come the end of it, there will be a celebration for a few weeks before fall semester starts. Love to you all and if you are in a crazy semester, I am sending you all sorts of good vibes!