Jennifer Uchendu - Pacific Medical Training

Submitted 2022-11-01

“Sir can I come in?” I knocked lightly on the door.

It was barely my second week on the job. While conducting my hourly rounds, I came across one of my assigned patients’ lying flat on his back. He was a tracheostomy patient diagnosed with schizophrenia and delusional disorder that relied heavily on extensive humidifiers and oxygen to sleep at night. With such an abnormal scene, I took the initiative to take a closer look at the patient. To my surprise, the patient had been very pale and his eyes had been extended wider than normal with pupils dilated.

“Sir..” I started panicking. “Sir, can you hear me?”

Still no response. I proceeded to frantically check his pulse placing my index and middle fingers on his wrist. Breathing in and out to calm myself down, I was finally able to locate the faint beats of his heart rate.

“I have a pulse! Can I get some help in here?” I confidently screamed into the hallway.

Without any further thought, I initiated a code blue. In just a matter of seconds the rapid response team had arrived as I aided in grabbing his chart as well as the glucometer and EKG machine to help stabilize him.

“You did good kid!” one of the responders lightly smiled; patting me on the back before exiting the room.

Little did I know that confirmation right there was the true beginning of my nursing journey. And this scholarship will only aid in my journey of providing innovative healthcare ultimately shaping the future of nursing.

Working at New Horizons Medical initially sparked my interest in the healthcare field. Serving as an administrative assistant for this outpatient addiction treatment center, I’ve gained qualified experience being in an office-like setting and doing system-related tasks. I have became very knowledgeable in overseeing patient schedules with their provider, tech savvy in relation to keeping our system up to date, as well as handling administrative tasks such as billing, prescription prior authorization requests, insurance referrals and eligibility, etc. This particular population peaked my interest in psychiatry as I desired to explore working more closely related to the patients. So with the skills that I’ve already obtained in just two years alone at New Horizons, it led me to make the switch to working at Salem Hospital as a mental health specialist where I am able to gain a more hands-on experience in the field and an opportunity to further explore my passion for psychiatric nursing. Working as a mental health specialist has opened up my perspective to a whole new world of medicine. Unlike the substance abuse clinic, I am now working directly with an adult population experiencing a variety of psychotic and behavorial disorders and illnesses. And my role as their first responder is to attend to all their needs and requests in order to promote stability at their stay in our program. Some days are harder than others. I’ve had to learn how to improve my communication with this specific population adjusting on a case-by-case basis depending on the patient. Learn their complete background in order to get a better synopsis of their history and how to avoid triggers. Developing new strategies and ways to help these patients cope with their condition and find better outlets to exert their intense feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, etc. Everyday before I go into work I have to mentally prepare for the worst case scenario as dealing with such an intense population you are supposed to expect the unexpected. Because sometimes we may say the wrong thing or look at someone the wrong way without even knowing and that’s enough to trigger the wrong patient which may lead to extreme measures being taken such as restraints in order to de-escalate the situation. And more often times than not, the patient will not respond well to the restraint which is also another big mental preparation of having to safely transport and strap in the patient to “the chair”; avoiding any harm to the patient while simutaneously keeping the patient from harming others as well. But being aware of my surroundings and having a good team has aided me in these tough situations. Everyone knowing their specific role and working together just makes the process much more effective because it takes a lot of mental and physical strength to deal with such aggression. All in all, working directly with this population has taken both a mental and emotional toll on me but in the end I’m becoming much more knowledgable in different aspects of the healthcare industry which makes it all the worthwhile.