My name is Lauren Lacroix and my competition partner is Jason Juell. For me personally, I have never been travelling overseas other than to your typical beach resorts. When I heard about this opportunity, I was an eager student coming to the end of my first year. I remember hearing the two instructors discuss it in front of our class; I couldn’t keep a smile off of my face. I turned to my friends and told them, “I am going to apply.” I went home, so excited to tell my parents, and they were so supportive of me. It was toward the end of exams in the middle of June, but I directed my focus to submitting my application and gathering a reference letter.
Once I got my application and reference letter submitted, I waited. I was out one afternoon and noticed I missed a phone call from the school, and to my excitement when I called the number back, I was offered an interview. When I was selected to be part of the team, we began our weekly practices. Little did we know those 10 weeks of practice were going to fly by.
Next thing we knew, we were boarding our 12.5 hour flight from Vancouver to Shanghai. Talk about ants in the pants for that flight, but we all slept and ate well. When we woke up again from our nap, we were landing in China. I remember getting off of the airplane and being stunned at the size of the airport. It was instant culture shock, and it was the most intimidating yet exciting experience I’ve ever been part of.
We hopped off the plane, being part of what felt like the Amazing Race to get our luggage, find our transporter to the hotel, and get comfortable in a new city. With being unable to communicate with others around us because of language barriers, we looked for signs with our names to get to the room. We got to our room comfortably, and got settled in for the night.
We had a few days to do some sight-seeing, shopping, and experiencing the Chinese culture. It was great to navigate the subway with the help of our fellow team members, visit temples, and bargain for some great deals in the subway market shops. The following day was our prep day, where we got to visit the Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences, where the competition will be held. We got to meet the other competitors, and get an understanding of how the competition would be set up. With overwhelming excitement and nerves, we went to bed that night to get ready for our 0745 start of the competition day.
Bright and early, our alarms go off. We meet for our breakfast, loading up on steamed custard buns to fuel the stress, excitement, and knowledge. We get to our seats for the competition, and watch a beautiful opening ceremony. Our instructors are guided to the front to pick out a number and a stage for us to compete on. There were 4 stages, with one round in total. All 34 teams would compete on either stage. We kept our fingers crossed that we were not the first ones, and thankfully we were up second. The teams that were not competing yet, including us, were huddled into a room, so we could not see or hear the other teams compete.
We anxiously anticipated our names to be called, so that we could begin our scenario. We were soon shuffled out of the room to our stage and given our scenario. We had 2 or 3 minutes, which felt like seconds to quickly read it, brain storm, delegate tasks, and remember all the points we had to complete, along with getting ourselves fitted for microphones on our own (which I put on us backwards, for the whole scenario). We were then asked are you ready, and they opened the curtain and said time has begun. We had 15 minutes for our scenario, which was very challenging, as we had a confused patient. We had to leave nerves at the door as much as possible, but it was not easy, especially when I was trying to get the bed to go up, and the bed was broken. We carried on as best we could assessing our patient, talking with them and the family, and applying our knowledge we have learnt while in school. Those 15 minutes felt like 5, and we were told our time was up, just as we finished. It was all over, and now the long wait, as we finished at 1015, and the closing ceremonies were not until 1600.
We anxiously awaited, wondering how we did, and enjoyed being able to watch all the other contestants perform their scenarios. Finally when closing ceremonies begun, we anticipated what would happen next. As they began to call out names, we thought we heard Red River College’s name being called, but with it being in Chinese and loud music we were second guessing ourselves, until others started pointing at us and telling us to go up. We were very excited, but also in shock, as we hesitantly walked up to the stage not knowing if we had truly won. We were then prompted by one of the organizers to come onto the stage, and then we waited, and then we received our trophy. Once we received our trophy I think it sunk in for both of us that all our hard work as a TEAM had paid off! We were grinning ear to ear holding our trophy, which was one of the heaviest I had ever held, about 7 or 8 pounds. We were 3rd place champions!!!
We made a lot of great friends while we were in China, as we connected with other teams. We had a great time with all the Canadian teams as we went out for supper one night as a group, and on the final night we joined some other teams for supper from the United Kingdom and United States. Meals were an enjoyable experience. The food was amazing, and not like your typical western Chinese food. We were not always sure what to order, as everything was in Chinese, so some days we would go to a restaurant and just point at what looked good. I had the honor, and the stress, of being chosen to be the food guide while we were there. I chose the first restaurant the first day, and everyone loved it! On the second day, someone else was supposed to pick, but somehow that didn’t happen, and it was delegated to me, and again I picked a winner! From there on out, I was nominated as the food guide for the rest of the trip.
China and the Shanghai International Nursing Skills Competition is an experience we will never forget, and we are so thankful to our classmates, fellow teammates, instructors, organizers, families and friends, and Red River College and their sponsors. We could not have done this without each and every one of you and are so proud and honored to have been chosen to be able to represent Red River College and the Nursing student body.
Thank you all for an unforgettable experience!
Post and photos by Lauren Lacroix and Jason Juell – 2018 Shanghai International Nursing Skills Team