A year at U of R

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Discharge teaching

Last week I did my first patient discharge. I was a little surprised when the nurse came up to me, held out a stack of papers, and said, "Here!" I think that most nurses hate the paperwork, and are more than happy to push it off on a nursing student. I'd watched one discharge before, but I really didn't have any idea of where to begin. But I figured the discharge was one more sink-or-swim challenge. How hard could it be?

I went into a corner, and read through all of the papers. I tried to figure out what each piece of paper was, and where the patient needed to sign everything. It felt a little ironic that what I was reading for the first time one moment, I'd be teaching the next.

I knew that the patient would be going home. I had worked with her the whole day prior, and I'd gotten to know her family and her habits. I had admired her embroidery, and chatted about her childhood. Now I'd be sending her home.

I actually loved doing the discharge. I'm sure I was far more conscientious about it than most nurses ever have time to be. I went over each prescription with her, and made sure she knew the dosages and times to take the meds. We talked about wound care and when to call for follow-up. I was enjoying it so much that I sprung a little pop quiz on her. "Tell me the names of the medications you are going home with." "How often should you take the Percocet?" I'm just a teacher at heart.

Once the paperwork was done, I didn't know how to actually send her off. The techs were all busy, so I went down to the lobby to fetch a wheelchair myself. Her husband got the car, while I wheeled my patient out to meet him. As I helped her out of the wheelchair and into the car, she turned, and gave me a big hug, and kiss on the cheek. The nurses really must forget how rewarding a discharge can be.