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My Shadow Experience Journal

Operating Room (OR)


This was my first shadow experience and going in I had no idea what to expect, I was
afraid and very nervous. I had no idea how I would react to seeing someone going through
surgery. I had only seen surgery in TV shows, which I know now is not an accurate
representation of the OR. My aunt, who set up my shadowing experiences, warned me to eat
plenty of breakfast before I came in for the day.
I walked to the OR at 6:30am and immediately changed into my blues, shoe covers and
hair net. Everyone in the OR wears these items to keep a sterilized environment. I was walked to
the center desk and immediately put into a surgery, a robotic hysterectomy. The nurses in the
room were helping to get tools and helping the surgeons and surgery technicians get into their
sterilized lab coats while keeping the front side sterile. I was amazed watching all of the
precautions the group went through. I was immediately told not to touch anything blue and if I
did they would have to reset up and I knew that would make them very frustrated.
The patient came in and I immediately got as nervous as she probably was, I had no idea
what to expect. The anesthesiologist and anesthesiology technician got the patient put under
and intubated. To my own surprise I was able to watch the whole surgery on a big screen TV and
they let me sit down. The primary surgeon was on the robotic controls, the surgeon assistant
(another surgeon) was helping switch tools on the robot and the surgery technicians were also at
the patient helping with tools and anything else the surgeons needed. The whole procedure lasted
about 2 hours. The nurses were there to get the surgeons anything that wasnt already on the
sterile field, which was forgotten, contaminated or used up.
After the surgery I got to see the uterus that was removed and they cleaned up the room,
and took the patient to recovery. I was absolutely amazed at how well I handled and enjoyed
seeing the surgery. I was then taken to a complete thyroid ectomy.
They placed me up on a stool and forgot to tell me not to lock my knees or I was at risk
of passing out. Since I did not know this, I got very dizzy and faint, stepped off the stool and a
nurse noticed and asked if I was okay. I explained I was hungry and thought it way maybe time
to eat because I was getting very lightheaded. The nurse thanked me for not passing out over the
patient and allowed me to go get lunch. For anyone ever shadowing in the OR, make sure you
keep your blood sugar up and continually switch your weight between legs, dont lock your
knees. It is very common that shadowers pass out because they do not know this.

After lunch I was placed in the GI OR room and saw an endoscopy and colonoscopy.
Overall, I loved the OR! I went in being very skeptical, thinking I wouldnt like it or wouldnt be
able to handle it, and now it is on my list of considerations for my permanent career.
Emergency Department (ED)
My second shadow experience was an early morning in the ED. The first call they had
was a patient coming in by ambulance. I immediately got to see the nurses in action. I stood in
the corner of the room to stay out of the way, and watched the nurses and doctor work. The
nurses here had a much more independent role with medicine and treatment than the nurses had
in the OR. They were putting in IVs, helping the doctor intubate, and administering medication
to prevent the patient from being combative. Once stable, everything slowed down and the
doctor started ordering tests.
Eventually we ended up in imaging and got a full view of the patients skull and neck.
We noticed a large brain bleed and the inevitable fate of the patient. She eventually was
transferred up to the ICU and the family was notified of her condition. Since I have been a CNA
for so long, dealing with the EOL seemed like a part of life to me. It was very awkward though,
because I did not know the family and was afraid to say anything unlike what I am used to.
The rest of my shadow rotation in the ED was very slow. I decided I wasnt too fond of
the ED as my future nursing profession. I admired their skill and composure they maintained
throughout the ambulance emergency, but it was very hectic and I am unsure how well I would
do in that type of situation.
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
My shadow rotation went from the ED to the ICU. I just happened to get the same patient
who I had seen earlier in the ED and then one other patient. I had no idea how many nurses are
usually on the ICU and that they will only take a few patients because of the critical state they
are in. After I realized how much the nurse I was shadowing had to get done in a day, this made
a lot of sense.
The first nurse I followed, for about an hour seemed to play favorites with her patients.
She focused on the patient I had seen earlier in the ED and pretty much ignored her other one. I
was glad a nurse came in earlier for her so I could see true compassion in the other nurse. I
followed a veteran who had been doing this type of work for 30 years. She did so much for the
patient who had been noticeably ignored by the other nurse to a point where it brought so many
emotions forward for me. The second patient had not been dangled in over a week, her tape
holding her GI tube had not been changed in a while and was very dirty, she brushed her hair and
washed her up. The patient went from saying she wanted a shot to die to saying she loved the
nurse and even gave her a kiss on the cheek. When she did this I became emotional inside, it

made me so happy to see a nurse who cared so much to completely change a persons mood from
I want to die, to I want to fight to live.
As I was leaving I told the nurse how much I admired her for her care and compassion
she showed for her patients. As a CNA, you see so many caregivers come in and do the job for
money or hours and leave, half of them couldnt care less for their residents. This nurse showed
true compassion, a nurse I will become. I enjoyed my time in the ICU, but it was too much like
what I currently do and I want to branch out more when I become a nurse.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
I arrived on my third day of shadowing to the NICU, there was only one neonate there.
While I was glad to see that there werent a lot of babies there, because nobody wants to see a
baby in the NICU, I didnt get to see much.
The neonate was absolutely adorable, but was in major withdrawal. I learned how they
have to wean them off of the drugs they are addicted to at birth. This neonate was having trouble
doing that so the baby would be there for a long term stay. I asked plenty of questions, which
they enjoyed, as I had done for all of my other shadowing experiences. That being said asking
questions shows interest in the field, and it is important you ask questions in both clinicals and
shadowing. Since I had seen all I could see with the one neonate there, the nurses sent me up to
Obstetrics early.
Obstetrics
Starting out I was so nervous for shadowing here, I had basically done it since my aunt is
the manager on the floor and she absolutely loves it. My opinion had completely changed by the
end of my day there. I was put with the charge nurse on the floor; she was very nice and very
experienced. I noticed immediately the chemistry on this floor was very different from the other
departments I had been on, they were goofy and would tease each other, something that I
enjoyed.
Our patient was the only one laboring on the floor that day, I had apparently come on the
wrong day because the day before they had six deliveries and all the mothers and babies were
going to be sent home the next day. I also got to sit in for scheduled section, Cesarean section.
There was an OR room on the labor delivery floor which was really nice, so they didnt have to
bring the mom down two floors to the OR and then mom, dad and baby back up. Before the
section I went and got lunch, because I wasnt going to make the mistake of going into surgery
with low blood sugar. I was amazed at how a section went.
The surgeon would cut and cauterize the epithelial tissues, but would rip the rest. I of
course asked why this was, and the nurse told me they heal better this way. Throughout the
whole procedure I continued to ask a lot of questions which the nurse loved. Once the baby was

out, they put them in the warmer, get their measurements and let the mom see the baby while she
is being sutured. Depending on the surgeon, suturing could be quick or take a while. The surgeon
for this section was known to be very precise and took about an hour to suture the patient up.
During this time the dad was back in the room with the baby and eventually the mom was
wheeled out and allowed to feed for the first time.
The induced labor finally happened about 3pm, I had stayed an extra hour so I could get
to see both a vaginal birth and a section. It was a completely new experience for me and I had no
idea what to expect. I had been going into the room with the nurse every time she had gone in. I
got to see an epidural being put in, antibiotics being given, I learned about what you can tell from
the contraction monitor, and finally learned about what a birth entailed. According to the nurse I
was shadowing, the delivery wasnt a normal one because the mom had a high pain tolerance and
only had to push a few times before the baby was delivered. Once the baby was out, again they
put the baby in the warmer and got its measurements. I was shocked at how many people were in
the room as this occurred. There was the mom, dad, doctor, two nurses helping with the mom, a
surgery technician, a nurse practitioner, another nurse to help catch the baby and finally me. I
also was intrigued by how late the doctors come, they basically show up to push and the rest is
all the nurses. This made me somewhat nervous because I was told sometimes the doctor doesnt
make it and the nurses deliver the baby.
Overall I loved my experience on the Obstetrics. The nurses were so charismatic and
seeing a baby being born made me extremely happy. As a nurse, this type of nursing is also on
my consideration list for my permanent profession.