Being a hospital in small-town Wyoming, Platte County Memorial Hospital (PCMH) really has three units that have continual patients—the operating room, the emergency department, and the medical-surgical unit. They also have an obstetrics unit, but only two to six babies are typically born each month. With a town of 3500, this hospital may sound slow-paced; however, remember that the next closest hospital is an hour away. PCMH also serves the small surrounding towns and the many ranches scattered across the county. PCMH is a critical access point, so critical patients that come in to the Emergency Department or patients on the floor that become critical are able to be flown out and transferred to a larger facility like Cheyenne Regional Medical Center or Denver Children’s Hospital.
Though PCMH may be quiet at times, this experience has definitely benefited me. Having only one inpatient unit, I have been able to see every case that comes in: from neonates, to pediatrics, to adults, to geriatrics, I’ve been able to see a wide variety of patients and cases. The variety of cases I’ve gotten to see has been hugely educational—chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder exacerbations, chest pain, abdominal pain, comfort care patients, swing bed rehab patients, labor and delivery, pneumonia, alcohol intoxication and drug overdose, suicidal hold patients, the list goes on. Also, since PCMH is a critical access point hospital, I’ve gotten to see a number of transfers of critical patients: Pneumothoraxes in neonates, heart attacks and nitroglycerin drips, code blue patients, and pulmonary embolisms. To witness the process of stabilizing a patient and doing whatever is in your limited power to keep them stabilized before a flight team can come in has been something every student should see and learn about.
This experience has been great. Learning comes so much faster for me with hands-on experiences. Remembering medications, skills, and the everyday job of a nurse has been so much easier with this practicum. I truly believe that the practicum has made the entire first year and a half of nursing school much more clear. I struggled with my motivation for sticking to nursing, but after this practicum and working with the great nurses I’ve come in contact with, my motivation has sky-rocketed. I’m truly excited to start my career as a nurse after graduating, and I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given at PCMH.