One thing I have realized lately is how much I am learning. Every day is another new and entirely different day. CL specialists have to be flexible and work with a very tentative schedule. This week I observed in the oncology clinic again which is where cancer patients receive outpatient care. On Wednesday I was able to observe three LP procedures. During a lumbar procedure, the patient is sedated while spinal fluid is drawn (a chemo treatment is usually given too). For the two younger patients, the CLS used distraction and breathing tools to help calm the patients before their procedure. The CLS simply talked quietly to the older patient and held her hands. At first it was hard to watch such little children having this procedure, but I quickly saw the necessity of the CLS for each patient. She kept telling me that if a child is calm before a procedure, then they are able to stay calm during the procedure and then wake up calmly.
The ever-changing schedule in the oncology clinic allowed me to do many different things this week. She has also shown me different places in the hospital, telling me about the purpose of each area. We went to a tumor board where doctors discussed the history and diagnosis of a patient with germ cell tumors. It was really interesting to hear the medical process of treating patients. Also, I helped out in the playroom, working on puzzles with a patient. Another thing I enjoyed doing at the oncology clinic was making crafts with patients. We colored, cut, glued, and glittered. It is neat to be able to engage patients of different developmental stages in fun activities. The pace of the clinic is definitely different from a regular unit and we were able to talk a lot while waiting for patients. She explained the requirements and certification process CLS now have to go through to work in established hospitals. I'm really excited to hear how other established specialists got their start in the field of CL and was glad when the CLS shared her experience with me. We also talked about the role volunteers have at the hospital, helping patients when the CLS and medical staff cannot. Also, after talking to her about the clinic, I think that I may have a project to work on too! I'm excited to go back next week and put some longer hours in. Hopefully I can talk to my supervisor about visiting and observing in different areas of the hospital soon as well.
*To answer Lauren's question, I became interested in CL a few years ago. I met my current site supervisor through a mutual friend and talked her ear off about CL. I quickly realized that I wanted to go into CL instead of my original goal of nursing because my background and schooling fits the CL career far better than nursing. Although I sometimes wish I knew how to help patients medically, I know now that the role of the CLS is extremely helpful for patients. There are so many things children deal with at the hospital that can affect their physical situation that must be addressed too. Oops, I'm stepping off my CL soapbox now, but feel free to ask more questions!