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Sep 9, 2020

I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish my nurse's assistant training this summer because of Covid. The last part of the course was going to be 40 hours of work in a care center for the elderly in the little town of Cashmere. "How am I going to finish my course?" was really on my mind. A few weeks ago, however, I received an email from our teacher telling us that there was no more Covid in the center, and that we could go there to do our clinicals. We were assigned in pairs to work with one particular patient, to help in any and every way needed. 

The first morning, when I arrived at 5:55am, I was nervous and excited. I am not from the medical field, so this was all going to be new for me. Our teacher showed us around, gave us as much advice as we needed, I think, and let us get to work. My partner and I were assigned to a lady I will call 'J'. She had several chronic illnesses and required total care. She could feed herself, but other than that, the rest was up to us. Our duties included: getting her up, toileted, washed, dressed, lifted into her wheelchair, fed, and back to bed. We worked on a tight schedule(1). Another thing that we had to do was reposition her in bed every two hours. This is essential for patients who cannot move themselves because if they don't change position, their circulation will get cut off at certain points of their bodies, which could lead to infection and death. Another thing that we had to think about all of the time was infection control, keeping germs away from our patients and ourselves. 

So, needless to say(2), we were busy all day. It was exhausting but really rewarding because J was quite a character. She understood that we were there for her, and appreciated our help, but she was also very upfront, and quick to be sarcastic. I loved that! It's hard to sum up all of the learning experiences that you get in a clinical like ours. We had such close contact and communication with not only our patient, but also with many of the others who were in the longterm care ward. I actually feel privileged to have been there with these wonderful, fragile people. They each had so many stories to tell, but sadly most of them could either no longer speak or remember.

So what now? I finished the course, but I still have to take the state exams in order to be registered as a nurse's assistant. Then, who knows? I definitely would like to work for a while in this capacity(3). It could very well lead to nursing, but as yet I'm not sure. Even if it doesn't, it was one of the most valuable courses I have taken, and has opened up a whole new area of human experience to me.

1. 'On a tight schedule' means that you have a lot to do in a given, limited amount of time.

a. We need to feed all of the patients between 12 and 1pm; we're on a tight schedule.

b. The builders of the cabin are on a tight schedule because it will snow soon.

2. 'Needless to say' is like saying 'this extra comment is obvious because of the context I have already given.'

a. The dog got out, and needless to say, it chased the neighbor's cat.

b. He was the most punctual and hardworking worker, needless to say, he was awarded 'employee of the month.'

3. 'Capacity' can mean one of three things: the potential for storage, a position/job, or an ability.

a. The cinema was filled to capacity.

b. He has the capacity to be a great doctor.

c. She volunteered in her capacity as an interpreter, and really helped the project.