July 8, 2022
Flex Friday: Roni Dominguez
Welcome to another Flex Friday! This week I spoke with Roni, a direct-entry student entering her third year of nursing. Roni and I grabbed some bubble tea, and she told me about her student experience so far:
“I have a few reasons,” Roni explained. “I have three younger siblings, and I grew up with the responsibility of taking care of them when my parents were at work. I think this is where I started enjoying the idea of taking care of people and helping them out.
“Another reason is that there are a lot of people who are placed in vulnerable situations,” Roni added.
As a nurse, you’re the one who has the ability to make them still feel like a person, despite this state of vulnerability.
“My mom’s a nurse, and she always comes home and tells me stories about her interactions with patients.” Roni explained how her mother’s stories inspired her to start nursing and how she’s been able to share her mother’s experiences after completing Term 4. “The interactions I had with all the residents – that’s what I remember the most from clinical.”
What have you been up to during the summer?
Roni currently works at a bubble tea store. While looking for work, she was careful to find a job that prevented her from burning out before the upcoming semester. “I think the customer service that I’m experiencing here can help me develop my interactions with patients in health care. It’s been helping my confidence,” she added. “I’m also on my feet the whole time, I have to remember all my orders, and I have to be fast and work well under pressure.”
How was your clinical this year?
“It was actually good. A lot better than I expected,” Roni said, describing Term 4. “Before we started, I was worried because I was placed on a secure unit and I didn’t get much student nurse-to-client interaction in Term 3.” Here, Roni was working with dementia patients who are prone to wandering and often uncooperative.
“My instructor knew that I wasn’t confident talking to patients with dementia or just patients in general,” Roni added. “I didn’t have a job before clinical, so I wasn’t really used to customer interactions or anything.” She said because she felt customer service and patient interactions in health care are related in certain aspects, it was helpful to improve those skills during her placement and through her current work. “I think I’m way more confident going into clinical next term than I was in Term 4. I’m very excited for the upcoming year.”
When asked about her classmates, Roni said: “We got to really help each other in certain strengths. The people I was with – Harrison and Jill – they were so good at interacting with patients. I would overhear what they said to their residents and tell myself, ‘Okay, I should try doing that.’ I think looking back on our time at clinical, I realized I learned a lot from them.”
What were the best memories from Term 4?
“There’s a lot of memories that kind of connect,” Roni commented. “There was one resident who every time she saw me, she would say, ‘Oh, hello!’ and grab my hand. She would just hold my hand and say ‘Your hands are really warm.' It’s really nice, being a companion to residents. I would just stand there and talk to her. It was a good pastime when there was lots of down-time at clinical.
“There was another one who would see me all the time and she would say, ‘Oh there’s the little helper!’” Roni continues. “I’m short, so I didn’t know if I should be offended, but it was nice,” she laughed. Roni really valued those patient interactions at work.
What were the biggest learning curves?
“I think the most important thing you have to learn is understanding how to interact with residents,” Roni said. “There was one resident and if she didn’t have her stuffed animal, she would become really aggressive. That’s why I loved the HCAs (health-care aides), because they really knew the patients.”
Reflecting on her first days of Term 4, Roni remembered feeling like she was working super slowly. “My HCA told me I could go a little faster, but I didn’t want to hurt my resident.” Over time, she got to know her residents quite well, but she explained feeling intimidated by many of them at first.
Recalling another experience with a resident, Roni said: “She would swear a lot and insult you. I had to help her every morning. At first, I was so scared. But I learned that she’s just aggressive with speaking in general — it’s just the way she talks. You have to work with them in a way that works for them. That’s something I had a hard time learning."
It just goes to show how important it really is, understanding patients.
What was Term 3 like?
Roni worked with an organization called COLO Families. “My clinical group was online, while a lot of people had in-person placements,” she said. “It was different. Other groups got to work on nursing interventions, but we ended up doing a lot of research.”
When asked about online learning, Roni remarked: “It was hard to find motivation and pay attention during lectures. You’re in the same environment the entire time.
“Starting second year, any chance I got to be with my friends, we would just book a room and stay there and work. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be at home. I’m so sick and tired of being in my room all day.’” Roni explained that it was really important to find a different environment to study in throughout the year.
Where do you want to work long-term?
“I want to do paediatrics or labour and delivery,” Roni said. She’s hoping to be placed in either department for her final focus. “I also don’t know if adults would take me seriously. I look like a kid,” she smiled.
“I’m not closed off to anything, though,” Roni shared. “That’s another reason I went into nursing. You can do a lot of things within one occupation.”
Any advice to incoming students?
“This is kind of hard, but don’t procrastinate,” Roni said. “What I do – even though I still procrastinate – is just scope out my assignments and approach it from there. If I can, I’ll work on it little by little. Know what you’re going into so you’re not blinded.”
Another thing she would recommend is an app called Notion. “It helps keep everything organized – like an agenda. It’s a place to put everything, and you can personalize it, so it’s pretty fun.
“Just push through,” Roni added, “but don’t be afraid to take breaks. I would work for long hours, but it wasn’t great for my mental health. I think that’s why I got burnout halfway through the term." Roni also shared that plenty of nursing students are open to sharing their learning experiences and answering questions. “Don’t be afraid to ask!
“'Slow down sometimes, but never stop!' — Terry Crews. I just recently heard this quote and it has been motivating me ever since."
Best place to study on campus? “The engineering building and the atrium.”
Plans for the summer? “Just working, but I’m also hoping to get motivated and study. Maybe some travel with family!”
Self-care? “The main one is music. I listen to basically everything. And just watching something that makes me happy, like Youtube. I like baking and trying things with my hands. Also dance workouts. Anything that gives me serotonin.” Listen to one of Roni’s playlists here!
Roni’s final words “It’s kind of cheesy, but there’s always a good side to everything. You just have to get through it. That’s what keeps me going. When you want something, you work for it.”