This summer I got a glimpse at what nursing is all about during my internship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I worked under the supervision of an experienced nurse, named Nicki. I worked the same schedule as Nicki, whether it was 12-hour days, weekends or night shifts in order to see all sides of the nursing profession.
I was assigned to a general surgery floor. For over 10 weeks I took care of a variety of patients, but the majority of patients had undergone Whipple procedures to treat pancreatic cancer. I was fortunate enough to witness one of these eight hour surgeries as part of my observational experiences. Sixteen hours of paid observational hours and eight hours of classroom time were included in the internship. During my classes I was able to tour the lifeline helicopter and perform a mock surgery with my fellow interns using the $40,000 laparoscopic camera and instruments.
The internship allowed me to apply my nursing skills and knowledge learned in nursing school in a real world setting. My clinical coach would review medications and doctors’ orders with me in order to improve my clinical thinking ability. I was also able to practice my skills. I removed catheters and IVs, packed wounds, flushed drains, and set up nasogastric tubes to suction.
Mayo Clinic changed my view on nursing and healthcare. Since Mayo is such a large institution, specialization is very common. Nurses do not start IVs or insert catheters; there are specialized teams that take care of that. I was also surprised by how well the disciplines worked together. I feared that the doctors would look down on nurses, but I never encountered this stereotypical behavior. Surgical residents were excited to teach me and would even call me into patient rooms to help with procedures.
Even though I worked and learned a lot, I still had a lot of fun in Minnesota. My roommates and I took a trip to Minneapolis to watch a Twins game and shop at the Mall of America. We went to countless fairs and festivals, attended Breakfast on Farm where we witnessed a calf being born, and took a road trip to a country music festival in Wisconsin. However my favorite memory was from the fourth of July when forty interns floated down the river in inner tubes, enjoying our day off.
I am fortunate to have been selected for a great internship at one of the top hospitals in the country. I was able to learn more about healthcare while making amazing friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer!
— Stephanie Westfall, Nursing