Kelowna paramedic students gain real-world experience at local nursing home

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Hands-on, experiential education and training is a hallmark at Justice Institute of British Columbia. Engaging in active training simulations is one way students learn to apply the knowledge they have gained. But students also gain first-hand knowledge through various opportunities in the community as a result of the meaningful partnerships between JIBC and local public safety agencies and organizations. Recently, students in Kelowna’s Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) Program had the opportunity to gain some experience at a local nursing home.

Kelowna PCP student Jenna Espersen shares some highlights of her cohort’s experience.

“As future paramedics, we have been told countless times that we will be dealing with the 80/20 Rule. That is, dealing with 80% of the population 20% of the time. This will likely entail calls with individuals of low socioeconomic status, addictions issues, and the elderly. JIBC has taken a proactive approach and introduced target populations to us as students within a controlled environment in an effort to prepare us for the real-world interactions we will encounter. As our previous volunteering experiences with HOPE Outreach, The Gospel Mission and Street level nursing with Interior Health have been documented, I will instead focus on the most recent venture to a local nursing home facility.

“The students in KE15-06 were given the opportunity to attend shifts at Cottonwoods Nursing Home to gain experience in the nursing home environment, with the nurses and care aids that work there, and, of course, the residents of the facility. We arrived at staggered times over several days so each of us could see a different part of the daily routine for the residents. For some of the students, it was their first nursing home experience and a little out of their comfort zone. For others, it was a chance to view the facility from a different angle.

“Many of us had the privilege of working with Kim and Patricia, two LPN’s whose passion and caring attitude was absolutely infectious. They cared for each one of the seniors as if it were their own loved one – and that is no exaggeration.

 

They were truly team oriented and believed that if all emergency resources worked progressively and as a team, the patient will always have the best outcome. It truly gave us the big picture view on how we as paramedics and members of the health care field can initiate change for the better.

 

“Our exposures varied depending on the shift we were scheduled for, but the morning shift involved gently waking and readying the residents for the day. This included changing them, readying their clothes for the day, combing their hair, gathering their belongings, and utilizing various lifts for some in order to get them out of bed and into their wheelchairs for the day. We were welcomed at breakfast by other staff and assisted some of the residents. Lunchtime saw additional feedings and social time with the residents, followed by activities, and then dinner prep followed by bedtime routines. Other initiatives involved dressing changes, ventilator checks, and resident baths. Everything we were exposed to that day involved a great degree of skill – either interpersonal or professional, and both were shown to us by the staff with true care and concern for the well-being of the residents and to us as inquisitive students.

“Personally, the experiences that will resonate with me would first have to include the LPN’s. Our experience was enriched by their enthusiasm to have us there, being open and accommodating, and showing us what daily life is like, not only for the residents, but for themselves. It is an absolute labour of love for them. This gave my classmates and I an intimate look behind their daily lives, and to not disregard or underestimate their patient knowledge or ability. They, as we, are an integral part of the health care system and it was a privilege to have spent the day with them. They were truly team oriented and believed that if all emergency resources worked progressively and as a team, the patient will always have the best outcome. It truly gave us the big picture view on how we as paramedics and members of the health care field can initiate change for the better.

“While there were many powerful moments I experienced that day with the residents – acknowledging that decades of memories, personality, and knowledge can be gone in seconds or years through head injury or Alzheimer’s, – it gave me a renewed sense of gratitude for my own health and that of my friends and family. Overall, the experience was a great reminder of the vulnerable population we will be interacting with, and a great chance to get more comfortable with both our understanding and interactions with elderly patients. It was wonderful to see the compassion from the staff with both the residents and towards us as students. It was an equally enriching opportunity to be able to converse and share in the day of residents who were very quick to let us know that they enjoyed having us attend, and felt lucky to have us there. I do believe, however, that it was we who were lucky and fortunate to realize the impact they were having on us not just within our role as students, but as individuals.”

 


For more information about JIBC’s paramedic programs and courses, visit the Paramedic Academy webpage.

 

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