Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Real Clinicals

Haven't posted in awhile, mainly due to the fact that I have an exam pretty much every week now.

Clinicals are finally in full swing, after some weather-related cancellations. Today, I had the unique privilege of going to the cath lab. I'm used to cardiac patients who have had a heart cath done to place stents or see the extent of coronary artery disease, but apparently there's much more that can be done there. At the hospital where I'm having clinicals, their cath lab does a lot of spinal/nerve stuff, such as repairing vertebral compression fractures with a kind of cement and doing nerve blocks for chronic pain. It's really an operating room atmosphere, which was new to me. Hence, the funny hat:

I also had to wear a really heavy lead apron because all of the procedures in the cath lab involve some type of radiation or another. The nurses I was following were extremely nice - always ready to explain something to me or let me draw up some medications. The doctor performing all of the procedures today was also very nice and let me stand where I could see the screens, and the surgical tech kept up a running commentary for my benefit. I also got to play with some of the cement they use for vertebral repairs - it gets warm as it hardens!

I'm most proud of myself for not screwing up a sterile field of the surgical instruments. The one piece of advice my wonderful clinical instructor gave me was "don't touch anything blue!" After I figured out where the blue sterile stuff was gonna be, I steered clear. As I told my classmates, I could kinda get used to wearing the funny hat and hanging out in the cath lab!