It all began in June 2017 with a post on our RRC Nursing page stating Nursing Skills Competition in Shanghai China. Without having any idea as to what a nursing skills competition entailed, my mind was stuck on the fact that this could be an opportunity to go on a trip to China. I am an avid traveler and the prospect of a trip was what dinged a little light of interest in my mind. It was all very exciting for about a week until my mind drifted into summer mode, and I forgot I was in school altogether. Come Fall in late August, a little red notification dot showed up on our webpage again, now with more details as to what I needed to do to officially apply. One letter of reference, one paper of interest, one interview, and one extremely nerve-racking simulation activity later, and I was chosen.
I showed up to our first “practice” as nervous as I was for my first day of school. We had planned to meet every Friday at lunch for an hour or two to go over all of the skills that could be included in this competition. You may be thinking skills… what are skills? I was too. These skills could include anything from walking a patient or repositioning them in bed, to more complicated nursing skills such as inserting an IV or administering a medication. The other student chosen to compete with me was a 3rd year student, and I couldn’t help but feel intimidated because she had a whole year more knowledge crammed into her head than I. However soon her and I, along with our alternate, quickly got into a routine and worked together seamlessly like we had known each other for years. I started feeling like a team, and as the weeks until the competition dwindled, I knew we were ready and excited for the competition.
I’ll spare you the details of our travels, because if you have ever been on a long airplane ride you would understand the swollen ankles and the greasy hair that naturally happen when you don’t have access to a bed or shower for 24+ hours. Upon arrival, we immediately felt the culture shock: people everywhere, a foreign language, and signs that couldn’t be read. Luckily we spotted a man who stood with a sign with our instructor’s name on it, and we followed him into his van and were off. Did we know where we were going? No. Did we know how long it would take to get there? No. Nonetheless we got to the University of Shanghai School of Medicine campus where we would be staying, and quickly fell into bed for a quick 11 hour nap.
After a day of “prep” for all teams, it was time for the competition. We woke up early, put on our slightly wrinkled uniforms, and walked down the hallway into the competition. We had seen the arena the day before, but today the seats were filled with people, music played, and strobe lights flashed, getting the crowd and participants excited. There were four stages set up, each with a patient in a bed, a “family member,” and the necessary supplies you needed to complete your scenario. We watched as team after team completed their scenario and walked off the stage with shaky hands and sweaty brows. Finally it was our turn. Scenario One: We had 15 minutes to teach a patient who had just suffered a stroke how to walk with a cane, properly dress themselves, and teach them about their new diet restrictions. Luckily for my partner and I, communicating was our strong point, and with all the prep we breezed through this scenario, though as we stepped off the stage we mirrored all the students before us… shaky hands and sweaty brows.
There were a total of 8 slots for teams that would be chosen to complete the “Final Round”, and only 4 of them went to international teams. We arrived back at the arena in the afternoon nervously awaiting the results as to who was going on to the next round. Name after name was slowly put onto the big screen… until we saw it. Little old Red River College was on the list! With little time to celebrate, all 8 teams were whisked into the “holding area” where one after one would leave the room for the 25 minute final scenario. Final Scenario: Each of the remaining teams were given the same scenario. A young male patient had collapsed while doing yard work and was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. We were to take his blood sugar, administer insulin, establish an IV, start him on fluids, reposition him in bed, and teach him about his new diagnosis. Comparatively this scenario was much more difficult than the first, but slowly and methodically we completed each task. With only a couple of bumps along the way (don’t get me started on the drug dose calculation that I had to do; learn your mental math kids!), we completed the scenario and again walked off the stage… with shaky hands and sweaty brows.
Without even knowing the results, we were proud of what we had accomplished. We had made it to the final round, beat out teams who were actual working nurses, and showed that Red River College was a school that produced confident and knowledgeable students and future nurses. Yeah yeah yeah… we get it, but how did we do?? Overall we won second place, and we won 1st place in the international category. We were ecstatic. The late nights, the hours studying, the weekends in, the moments that I felt like I couldn’t do it all… were all worth it.
Overall the traveler in me had an amazing time in China: learning a new culture, touring a new city, and checking another country off my list. What had become more important to me was the experience of this Nursing competition from start to finish. The extra practice has made me a more confident student, the competition opened my eyes to nursing around the world, and the win opened doors for opportunities that I never would have dreamed of. The more I get to speak about this competition and about this program, the more passionate I become and the more excited I am to be a part of it. I hope that future students, if given the opportunity to apply for this competition, do so excitedly. As for me, this experience will always be one of my best, and now as my 15 minutes of fame fades, I will be just like all my fellow students and start writing a paper for one of our classes … instead of a fun blog like this one.
– Student Nurse