During a prolonged study session, I came across an exam I hadn’t heard of before and that got me thinking about all of the other exam names I’ve learned over the years such as McBurney’s point, Kernig’s sign, Beck’s triad, Throckmorton sign.
These and others are the cool names of various tests and findings we are taught to look for on physical exam. I imagine clinicians and researchers worked for years to perfect the sign or had an ah-ha moment when it made sense and then they published the results and are now immortal.
That sounds pretty cool to me. I’ve decided that after all these years as a nurse and at school that I want a test or an exam named after me. Nothing ground breaking, not Nobel Prize worthy, just something. I can picture it now: years from now a young nurse practitioner (NP) student will tell his preceptor how the patient has findings from whatever test will bare my name.
After some research, I realized this dream of mine is also a finding that is named after somebody. Based on my dream, I have reached Erikson’s 7th stage of development, generativity versus stagnation.
So what can I possibly apply my name to? As an emergency department (ED) nurse these many years, I’ve had a lot of experience with patients suffering from acute addiction to various substances; maybe I could come up with a test that can identify this and call it the L’Huillier-Hall sign.
Another option is the length and sound of tracheal suctioning in relation to the gagging motion by the new nurse? That’s a positive L’Huillier-Steres sign. I can imagine the fear the NP student will experience when trying to memorize not only what my sign means, but also how to spell and pronounce it.
But seriously — all of this information seems overwhelming while reviewing it in class or reading about them in your textbooks — but the satisfaction that you experience the first time you recognize one of those signs in practice is exciting and provides a since of accomplishment and validation of all the skills you learned.
Even though we all are faced with those days when we feel like the information we are learning is pointless, there will come a time when it will be applicable and beneficial to ourselves and our patients.
Sean P. L’Huillier, BSN, RN, CEN, is an emergency department nurse currently enrolled in Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies Family Nurse Practitioner Program.