When working in the medical field, regardless of your degree or occupation, you will find that your skills are tested to the fullest. You will be pushed to your physical and mental limits and then expected to overcome them, and you will need to learn and master unfamiliar concepts in order to save lives. While many doctors and nurses expect their job to throw them in at the deep end, this actually starts with the students.
For various medical students, being thrown into complex medical environments that don’t mirror what they have studied in a textbook can be very beneficial to their learning. It can be interesting to discover these various benefits, and how they help the students regardless of their field. In this article, we’ll explore this in detail.
What makes a medical environment complex?
While you may think that an ER facility, which carries out a lot of surgeries and complex procedures, or a hospital that is regularly on the front lines against medical threats is a complex environment, this isn’t always the case. Even a hospital that just performs routine operations and checkups can be a complex medical environment. The complexity isn’t just due to the type of tasks being performed, but also to what is going on in the medical environment.
Is there a diversity of tasks involved in the delivery of patient care? How much do the healthcare providers depend on one another and have to work as a team? How many relationships are there between the patients, healthcare providers, support staff and other members of the hospital? And how complicated are the systems?
It isn’t just the level of skill needed to perform at the hospital that makes the environment complex, but also the systems in place at the hospital. If there are constant demands on a healthcare provider’s attention because of these systems, then it can be extremely complex even if the work itself is fairly simple.
What type of students need to be in complex medical environments?
Of course, not every student needs to be put into a complex medical environment in order to thrive and learn the skills they require. However, many students can benefit from getting extra experience along with their traditional learning course. Whether they are RN to MSN NP students or simply those who learn better in the field, the benefits will be outstanding. Students who want to change from one nursing field to another can benefit from studying at an accredited university, such as Wilkes University. For nurses who are ready to take the next step in their education and gain a Master of Science in Nursing degree, they can learn everything they need to know at Wilkes University, which takes them down one of three career paths: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care, or psychiatric/mental health.
So, why would throwing students into these complex medical environments be beneficial? Here’s what you need to know.
The complex environment teaches students to work together and work with others
For a start, if a student is thrown into an environment with a lot of systems in place, they will learn the communication skills needed to work with others. Being able to collaborate with people above them, such as the leader of a team, can be tough for some students who are used to working on their own. Additionally, even if students can collaborate well, working together in a high-stress environment can be difficult.
However, learning how to handle interdisciplinary collaboration will help the students become more comfortable in the hospital setting. Eventually, they are going to have to work with new faces and learn to communicate with people they haven’t met before, and a trial by fire is the best way to do it.
The most significant benefit of interdisciplinary collaboration is that it helps the different disciplines learn to work together as a team. The satisfaction of the employees will go up, and having a team to rally around and fall back on will lead to a happier work environment and often higher staff retention. Additionally, this team-based mentality will help the patient.
For patients with more complex or long-term health issues, the care will often be better if they are being cared for by a team of experts rather than just one person. The team will be able to collaborate and work together to provide the best possible care to the people who need it, and they can also provide more diverse treatment options.
Finally, having multiple eyes on the same problem can help to reduce the risk of medical mistakes and injuries. In some cases, physicians will mistakenly contradict one another, or they will act without knowing all the information. Having each of the providers in communication with one another can help prevent problems from occurring.
Students are exposed to multifaceted cases
When exposed to complex environments, many students find that they are exposed to more multifaceted cases. Whenever multiple institutions or experts make simultaneous progress on the same goals, they are able to reach those goals much faster and also better support their patients. Multifaceted care has been shown to be better for the patient, because many healthcare professionals are working toward the same goal.
This also helps to improve the quality of care for the patient, especially if they are in low-income areas. For many students, they are going to need to take on multifaceted cases and work with other experts in the field if they are to succeed.
Students learn how to manage their time and be efficient
As students, it can be quite comforting to be able to sit back, relax and take a lesson slowly. However, if you become accustomed to taking your time, it can be a serious problem. In any type of medical environment, being able to move quickly is going to be beneficial.
Whether you are trying to get results to someone who can do something about it, or you have to move swiftly in order to respond to a crisis, you need to be able to manage your time – especially if you are in a complex medical environment where everything is happening all at once and your attention is being pulled in numerous different directions. By learning in a complex medical environment, you will be able to quickly become efficient out of pure necessity.
You might need to work with others or ask for help if you are used to doing everything at your own pace. However, you will very quickly learn what it means to be efficient and how you can best manage your time and energy. While you might still miss some deadlines or make some time-related mistakes, knowing exactly what is going to be demanded of you when you work in a medical environment will only help you.
You will be able to find research opportunities
As you start working in a medical environment, you will find that you are going to be introduced to new things. You will learn new procedures, new ways of communicating with patients, and new methods of organizing information about your patients. These might be things that the textbooks haven’t taught you, or tips that your teachers haven’t told you about.
However, along with relearning things from a new angle, you also need to make sure that you are keeping an eye out for things that interest you. You might find that you really enjoy a certain field of study, want to work with a certain niche of patients, or would like to pursue a certain job in the medical world. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new research opportunities while you are in the new environment, because it might be something that will define your future as a medical student.
You can start making connections and learning the clinical skills you need in order to get a head start on joining the new field. It can be invaluable to start thinking about the future while you are in the current medical environment because you will only grow as a person when you do this. Also, you might discover a passion for a certain area of medicine that you otherwise didn’t know you had!
Problem solving and critical thinking
Being put in a complex environment where we only have a few pieces of the puzzle means that our brains go into problem-solving mode. We want to take the information that we have and try to make it fit with what we don’t have, using our current knowledge as building blocks. This also works in the medical field, where problem solving and critical thinking are two skills that students really need to use.
Students will be faced with plenty of problems in the world of medicine regardless of the field – for example, ethical dilemmas, new diseases and pandemics, and how to deal with more diverse patients and the changing field of healthcare as a whole. Being able to effectively solve existing problems while also critically thinking about how to solve future problems is going to be an important skill that every student will need to develop.
You can build connections
Finally, if you don’t get anything else out of being in a complex medical environment, at least you can say that you got to build some connections. You worked in an environment for a length of time, got to meet some amazing people, and did some hands-on fieldwork. This is something that looks good on a resume. Additionally, you might be able to name drop a few of your superiors or the place you worked at and have a better chance of finding a job.
Being thrown into a complex environment can let you know if you can handle the day-to-day life of being a nurse. You might find that after being in this environment for a few days, you enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back for more, or that it was overwhelming and you need to rethink some things. It takes a special type of mental fortitude to be a nurse, and something like this can show you that you are able to handle it.
However, don’t discount the connections you can make by learning to do the job, getting your name out there, and doing the job well. Once you are finished with school and can enter the job market, you might find that those connections can really pay off.
Don’t be afraid of complexity!
Even experienced nurses can take a few steps back at complex nursing environments because they can be tough to navigate. However, don’t be afraid to leap into those environments because you will learn all sorts of skills the hard way. The skills you learn and the connections you make from simply being in the field and doing the work are going to be invaluable for everyone.
Also, if you can get into a complex medical environment as a student, then you can just focus on learning the ropes, making mistakes and understanding all that comes with the job! There are plenty of learning benefits waiting for you and no pressure at all, so why wouldn’t you do your best and learn as much as you can?