The Art of Triage

 The Art of Triage

Today was my first day in triage, the station everyone fears. I had no idea how to do any vitals and was super nervous to handle real patients for the first time. I am terrible at mental math, but needed to quickly figure out how to stay on beat while counting heart rates. I reassured myself I could do this especially, since adults are pretty calm. However, our first patient was not an adult, but a very nervous kid. After redoing the counts twice I was able to stay on beat and accurately count. I was so excited and felt ready for any patient to walk through the door! After a couple adult patients, I was able to build my confidence more and more. Then a baby arrived. These mini humans have nascar cheetah speed heart rates. I was terrified, not only do their hearts beat fast but they’re also extremely squirmy. After conquering that challenge, I was truly ready for anything. 

After a couple hours a woman walked in and  I began following my routine of collecting vitals. I had the steps memorized at this point. However, this time after I took her BP something unexpected happened. She asked me if her blood pressure was normal. A very normal question for a patient to ask, but not one I’ve encountered before. I nervously told her I was only a student and really had no idea what I was doing (in the future, I probably should not say this to patients). Anyways, she laughed and told me that she didn’t know how to read but we were both finding ways around our problems. We both laughed some more and I reassured her that although I don’t know, the doctors definitely do. 

There was also an 18 year old mom who came to clinic and needed vitals to be taken. This woman was accompanied by her energetic two year old daughter. When she wasn’t jumping around she was running, talking, and using her mom as a human climbing wall. It was definitely going to be challenging trying to collect vitals. I quickly came up with the perfect plan, enlist the girl to be my assistant. She very excitedly agreed. We started with heart rate, I placed the little girls hand over the end of the stethoscope and helped guide it to her mom’s chest. With both of our hands on the stethoscope, I began counting the heart rate. This proved challenging as my assistant really loved to move the stethoscope around and also tap on the end. Eventually I was able to count the mother’s heart rate and the first vital was finished. After that I would had my assistant random objects to hold which included a glove, temperature gun, stickers, and a pulse ox. Once she mastered the art of holding random things, I put my stethoscope around her neck and asked her to examine my partner (Lily). This was mostly to distract her since I was about to take a blood glucose on her mom and didn’t want to scare her. I will definitely enlist more small children to help me examine their parents, since it was very fun for everyone involved.

Overall, an experience I will never forget and always carry with me. 

Bella DeLeon


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