Saturday, January 22, 2005

What it takes to be a nurse...

A nursing instructor at Top of My Head has started a list. It includes compassion, stamina, and some things that might surprise you ("mega-bladder," for one).

Nursing blogs have been quite compelling lately. Here are some of my favorites:

A nurse at Codeblog has a dying patient whose care seems futile, and discovers that she's lost some objectivity.
I certainly agree with giving the patient a chance to recover, and giving the family some measure of "we did all we could," but I like to think that I can then steer them towards accepting that the end is near.
I can't do that with this family. I have become a little too close to them. To bring up that subject after all we've talked about would feel like a betrayal. (Hat tip: Dr. James Baker at Mental Notes.)

A nursing student sends a message from the front lines, at Jen, SN.
I had 11 patients, 9 of whom were complete care. 2 were hospice, and both wound up dying. One was getting blood, but pretty much bleeding out every unit he got via a GI bleed. 4 were completely out of it--bodies in the bed, turn and position. Most were incontinent, at least to some degree. Most were in pretty much constant pain--hot packs, running for meds, trying massage and repositioning. 5 were on precautions: either special contact (gown and glove) or flu (masks). One of my hospice people needed suctioning...well, constantly, but at least every 30 minutes. The other hospice person had about 30 family members milling about. In addition to all of this, I was training in a new tech.
This would have been possible--not easy, but workable--if I had been working with people who pulled their weight.

Diana, the ER nurse at Write Wing, is tactful, but frank: her "Untruth Detector" is functioning well.
You might not be truthful . . .
if you come to the er and tell us:
"Honestly, I have no idea how that got stuck in there."

"So, why the heck did I decide to become a nurse?" asks Tales of An Aspiring Nightingale.
I oftentimes wonder what I was thinking, leaving my cushy desk job and going into a high stress job where I'm on my feet for twelve hours at a time, dealing with sickness, life and death situations, and people who want me to do hundreds of things at once. Then I remember why I became a nurse:
To save the life of someone who's potentially having a heart attack.
To restore blood in an anemic patient so he can go home to his wife and son.
To release the nursing home patient back into her community in better health.
To ease the mind of a woman who is worried about her ill father.
As a nurse you sacrifice a little of yourself: your time, your energy, your dignity, your lunch, your need to pee. But the end result, your impact on your patients and their lives, makes the job worth while.
The end result helps me get up the next morning, report to the unit at seven o' clock, and do it all over again.

I cringed when I read her remark about nurses sacrificing their dignity. That sort of sacrifice is just not acceptable. And look - another reference to the bladder issue! If nurses aren't able to take care of their own basic needs at work, then how on earth can we expect to have any nurses?

One more! Here's the nurse at Azygos:
You know you have been at work too much when you pick up the phone at home and dial “9” before making the call. Thank God it’s Friday and I’m not on call.
Even worse: when you try to open your own front door with the keys to the psych ward!

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