Nursing Student Diaries – Mental Health – Entry 1
Nurse Anxiety and Health Care Provider Collaboration
Heading into my first day of mental health clinical, I was feeling a bit nervous and unsure of what to expect. I had looked up all my assigned patient’s medications and done some research about their diagnosis the night before, but as with any clinical experience, it was difficult to know what my first experience with this patient might look like. I was unsure of what to expect and despite having had and intensive week of lectures, couldn’t help but to worry that I was not prepared.
Given the diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder, I think I had an underlying notion that a manic episode would most likely be the cause of this patient’s current hospitalization. I’m not entirely sure where this bias would have come from, but upon further reflection, I suspect that it may have to do with an assumption that mania, as a potentially more visible situation, would more likely lead to hospitalization.
When I arrived to the unit, my nerves became amplified as I read through the patient’s chart and saw that the patient was, in fact, experiencing a depressive episode rather than a manic one. I couldn’t help but have a brief moment where my thoughts jumped to a worst-case scenario of “what if the first thing this patient tells me is that they want to kill themself, and they have a plan and the means to do so.”
After the quick moment of anxiety, my nerves were calmed as I met with the patient for the first time and had a discussion with their primary nurse about their situation. While my first 1:1 conversation with the patient felt a bit awkward I found that the more we spoke the easier it was to begin to ask some of the more difficult questions and get a better sense of how to navigate the thoughts and feelings the patient brought up.
I was surprised to see how different the atmosphere of a mood disorders inpatient unit was in comparison to any other unit or setting that I’ve been placed at. The collaborative nature of the health care team really seems to support a positive learning environment in which all of the interdisciplinary team members’ input is valued, including the students’.
By being involved in physicians interviews, rounds, and other meetings regarding the patient, I feel as though, I’ve been able to get more detailed information regarding the patient, and consequently feel as though I am better prepared to work with them. It is unfortunate that such collaboration is not as prominent in other areas of healthcare, because it really seems as though it allows every member of the interdisciplinary team to deliver more well-informed, higher quality care.