Yale Nurses Score and A+
I started my presentation to the Yale Pediatric nursing students by telling them why I love nurses. It seemed like a good place to start. Nurses saved Aidan’s life and advocated for me when I couldn’t be bedside in the NICU.
Then I asked the students to tell me what they noticed about Aidan (who was tooling around the classroom), what observations did they make, what words would they use to describe him?
They were supposed to say:
- He has low muscle tone.
- I can see that he drools.
- He’s using a powerchair so he must be non-ambulatory.
- He can’t talk but he vocalizes.
- He doesn’t hold a gaze for long.
- His has a tremor in his hand.
- and more can’t can’t can’t bad bad bad
This is how I planned on responding:
Yes, most of that is true and those are good observations. I would hope you would notice those kinds of details in a clinic setting and that you would ask me if what you’re seeing is accurate.
But this is just one piece of Aidan, the piece you are responsible for, but you should know he is so much more. He is smart and capable and funny. He is a brother and classmate and member of the community.
And then I would have hit them with Presumed Competence, Baby – believe that he can do so much more than you can see because he can, and if he doesn’t yet, he will. BOOM (drops mic and goes home).
And they would have said:
- Wow, I’m so glad I came to class today. She was an amazing speaker.
- We never would have guessed that a patient has a life outside of the four walls of a doctor’s office or hospital room. I can’t believe a kid would be more than the notes in his chart. So glad she schooled us.
- I’m glad she told us how amazing Aidan is because we never would have guessed or believed it.
- She just changed all of our lives and the course of nursing forever and ever amen.
This is what they said instead:
- I walked in and he looked at me and smiled.
- He’s a great driver.
- He’s really smart. He’s following your directions.
- He’s happy and has a great giggle.
- He’s very social and curious.
- And from the one male nurse in the room – he obviously loves driving into the chairs. That’s what I would be doing.
And this is me saying, “If you’re gonna steal my punch line and leave me with nothing left to say, there’s the door.”
No, I didn’t say that. Here I am saying, “Now before you go thinking you’ve got this whole presumed competence thing nailed, just simmer down.”
I suppose I made other good points, but just whatever. The fact that they nailed presumed competence, that they really saw Aidan, filled me to overflowing with hope and joy.
So I had a heart to heart with Aidan and told him that the students stole everything I was going to say so it was his time to shine like the sun. And he did.
Aidan IS strong, just like they said. Sure he uses a power chair but he can still walk. Incidentally it appears that I can walk and talk too which should impress someone.
And they were right to say he is SMART. He can communicate. After asking for a drink and being told I didn’t have one for him, he told me he wanted to drive again. Of course, he did.
He then proceeded to drive into and through and take down the entire back row of tables. No joke. There was a huge crash but no one was hurt. All of that just means he’s an intentional and expert driver.
And just to drive home their knowledge of presumed competence, this guy right here realized that he knew Aidan’s Nana (which I didn’t realize)….
He went up to him after class, without me, and talked to Aidan about Nana. He didn’t ask for a translator, he didn’t keep the story to himself assuming that Aidan wouldn’t get it. That, my friends, is presumed competence in so many shades of AWESOME!
So, yes, it was an amazing day. Clearly I need to up my game for next year.
And this is Aidan thinking, “My brother and I are going to have so much fun when he’s a student here. We’re gonna have some stories we can’t tell mom. It’s best to just let her presume I can’t play beer pong.”