Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I had a community health clinical today.  I was to follow and observe/assist a parish nurse. Parish nursing specialized practice of professional nursing that holds the spiritual dimension to be central to practice. The focus is on the promotion of health within the context of the values, beliefs and practices of a faith community.  There isn't as much hands-on care, but more counseling and being a resource to 'patients'.

First, my professor emails me directions to the place.  All she says is that it is a highrise for older adults. assisted living home.   I get it,  its run by a church and a parish nurse is in charge of the healthcare there. 


The directions lead me to the most sketch place in town.  I'm nervous to get out of my car.  I realise that the highrise is one of several public housing developments....or 'the projects'.   I see a woman pulling a suitcase with a big jacket on, staring at me as I'm trying to find a parking spot close to the building.  I automatically assume she is homeless and on crack and is going to ask me for money.  Then she waves...and I see that she is wearing scrubs....and the suitcase isn't a suitcase.  It's her briefcase.  She's the RN I was to follow.  I'm completely mortified.  I was SO quick to judge, and felt horrible about it.  I soon find out that she's only been a parish nurse for a year and has worked on an oncology floor for the past 19 years.

We go into her office, which is in the Public Housing Authority office, which is in the bottom of the highrise. She makes some phone calls, and we get into her car to go pick up a patient to bring him to the doctors office.  So we drive from Project #1 to Project #2.  The man doesn't come down, so Helen and I go inside.  It looked like the lobby of a motel.  Then we go into the elevator...which reeks of cigarette smoke.  Not fresh cigarette smoke ( if there is such a thing), but smoke that has never had a chance to disperse into real fresh air.  We go up to floor 17.  I am shocked when we get out.  It looked like stuff I've seen in movies.  Dark barely lit hallways, hard concrete floors, even more uncirculated cigarette smoke filled air.  We go to Mr Greggs apartment, and knock.  He comes to the door and he looks like one of 194287 men that have asked me for a dollar in my 4 years in college.  He has no foot below his ankle.  We go inside his apartment and I immediately compare it to my apartment.  There's a kitchen the size of my bathroom.  A bathroom is the size of my walk in closet.  It looked like something in a prison.  The sink was ancient and there was nothing concealing the pipes throughout the whole apartment.  The bedroom looked like something you see in a movie where a hooker might live.  Again, it reeked.   Anyways, we helped the health department give H1N1 vaccinations, and I checked like 40 peoples blood pressures.  I felt weird being really close to them. I could smell the alcohol on the breath of many, and some were 12 noon.   At one point, I got dizzy and felt like I was going to hit the floor, but I soon realized that I was taking very shallow breaths.  I was doing in subconsciously.  I didn't want to hit the I breathed normally.  I'm kicking myself right now for doing that.  My chest feels heavy and I've had a 'smokers cough' ever since I left there.   This sounds really bad....but is it bad that when I left, I felt dirty? I was in my car and I smelled like an ashtray.  My hair stunk, and my nostrils would NOT let go of the stench.  I came home and took the hottest shower of my life.  Is it bad that I did that?

I felt like a stuck up rich bitch.  I felt horrible.  I definitely was the only white person there, and I had on minimum jewelry, only 2 rings and stud earrings, but wished I didn't have those on.  I felt like I was rubbing it in there faces just by being there. 

1.  I'm in college---70% of the people in the high rises are illiterate.
2.  I'm white...they probably already resent me for that.
3.  I felt awkward and out of place---I probably reeked of awkwardness.

I left today feeling so blessed for what I have. 
I'm blessed because I have a father and a mother. 
I'm blessed because I'm be able to work. 
I'm blessed because I am able to not work so that I can focus on school.  
I'm blessed because I've never had to wonder where my next meal will come from. 
I'm blessed because I have health insurance.
I'm blessed because I have my health. 
I'm blessed because I was born into a family who has never been without anything. 
I'm blessed because both of my parents have jobs. 
I'm blessed because I'm able to walk outside and not have to worry about getting robbed. 
I'm blessed because I'm able to walk outside and not have to worry about getting robbed by my neighbor.  Im blessed because I can read.
I'm blessed because I have an education.
I'm blessed because I am able to choose from a ton of clothes to wear.
I'm blessed because I am able to wash away the cigarette stench from by body and clothes.
I'm blessed because I've seen what it is like on the other side. 
I'm blessed to have had this experience.

I definitely think that any parish nurse who chooses to work in conditions like this truly a wonderful person.  I'm can honestly say, parish nursing is not for me.

**Names and situations have been changed to be compliant with HIPAA laws**

1 comment:

  1. Cute blog, Megan, thanks for following me!

    I like your sassy attitude!


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