Recognizing difficult situations and handling even the most bizarre problems professionally and respecting confidentiality are the biggest challenges of being an RA….
During my first year as an RA I had a resident move onto my floor mid-year. She seemed painfully quiet, but was making friends with her roommates. After about a month, her other suitemates started complaining to me that this girl was having problems. She never did laundry or cleaned up after herself. The suitemates also told me that she did some strange things, like take all of her clothes off, draw skulls on the mini-fridge, and rubber cement plastic smurfs in the bathroom.
Needless to say, I passed this information along to my supervisor and meet with the resident in question. When I brought her into my room and asked her to sit down, she tried to do so in my sink. I suggested one of my chairs, and we began talking. The resident repeated ever word I said right back to me. After I felt I couldn’t do anymore without help, I got up to walk the resident back to her room. Instead of using the door, she walked into my bathroom and hid behind my shower curtain.
Needless to say, we began working immediately to get this resident the care she needed.
The next day, my younger brother came to visit me. While we were taking my clothes out of the dryer, this resident walked into the laundry room, put her shoulder against the wall and walked the perimeter of the room in that fashion, stepping into trashcans, folding tables, etc. The next day, I met with her in my room again, hoping to be able to have a better conversation this time. She again repeated every word I said to her right back to me. At another time, I came to speak with her, and she repeatedly switched the television off and on. Our staff was eventually able to get this poor girl the kind of assistance she needed. It’s a shame that she was forced to go to school at an obviously difficult time for her.
Recognizing difficult situations and handling even the most bizarre problems professionally and respecting confidentiality are the biggest challenges of being an RA. They have also afforded me an opportunity for personal growth and sensitivity that I will take with me when I graduate this year. Even with situations like these cropping up intermittently, I will miss being an RA!