My first experience working at a General Out-Patient Clinic (GOPC), was quite different from any ward. It had a bigger focus on patient empowerment and motivating a client to take charge of their own health needs. This clinic covered services such as wound dressing, flu shots, risk assessment programs for diabetic, hypertension, etc, and had fall prevention talks, smoke cessation programs, etc.
Staff here were really willing to teach and share their knowledge. One especially memorable was the wound APN which gave us fair warning to brush up on our dressing materials and wound healing notes on the first day. Coz at the beginning of day 2, she started giving us some real hardcore practical challenges and info on how to assess a wound, with some really great personal experience, and uses for a variety of different dressing material. Her knowledge of these aspects were so in-depth that she challenged the sales of dressing material manufacturers, it was just great being able to skim off her wealth of knowledge. I also loved her openness, not only her understanding that we’re “just students” and the limits of what we could do at this stage, but also acknowledge our potential.
Learning how to motivate patients is a whole different skill set which, although taught in all nursing textbooks, is rarely used on the ward. However, in GOPC its goal is for the patient to require followups less and less frequently, and the best way is to teach the patient how to take care of their own wounds, how to manage their own diets, and their chronic illnesses with their own resources.
I was still at the stage where I thought Out-patient clinics were for those with fevers or coughs, however, this clinical block has shown me how much it has changed its goals to early detection and prevention.