I would really REALLY like you to contribute to the Book of Nurses in celebration of International Nurses Week this year (May 6-12).
Your story matters.
OK then, to start off tell us what country/area you live in, how long you have been nursing for, what areas you have worked in and the specialty you currently work in.
I live in Texas, USA and have been a nurse for four and half years. Upon graduating I began working on a telemetry floor. I still work on the same floor, but now I work on a step-down unit that takes the cardiovascular surgery patients . I’ve recently begun charging there as well.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
As long as I can remember, I would tell people that I was going to be a doctor. I participated in a health tech-prep course in high school. At this point in my life I was already fatigued with school and hesitated with committing to so much more. I thought this program would help me figure out what I wanted to do. The course would certify students as nurse aides, and we would go to a local hospital several days a week for clinicals. I enjoyed it very much. I found that I liked most working alongside the nurses after my own work was done. An interesting note is that these clinicals were not limited to nursing units. We spent time with dietary and housekeeping as well. I can appreciate now the valuable experience of walking in the shoes of those people I work beside on a daily basis.
Even after this course, my plans were not definite. A teacher shared her friend’s positive experience as a physician assistant. I thought that might be something I would like to do. I worked as an aide in an assisted living facility and in a hospital’s telemetry unit during college. I finally decided on a nursing major with the idea that it was something I liked and would give me an income when I graduated and continued to pursue becoming a PA. It was nursing school that introduced me to the many paths that a nurse can take.
Did you find your training prepared you for what actually goes on at the bedside? What sort of things really opened your eyes when you first began working ‘on the floor’? How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career? Do you see a positive future for the nurses that are graduating now?
I was lucky to have all the experience that I did. Basic nursing care was not new to me. I already knew how to work and manage my time with an assigned group of patients. I just had to learn how to do it as a nurse instead. This may sound strange, but I felt as though my schooling left me with just enough knowledge to not kill someone. It was on the job where I discovered that I had all the pieces and learned how to put them together. And, of course, specialty units have their own additional training.
School only teaches you how to do things one way. I learned so much just by watching experienced nurses and asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. One nurse would jokingly charge me a nickel per question in an attempt to get a Coke out of me. We never got that high, and she wrote off my debt at the end of every shift. It’s important to find those nursing mentors. It’s important to be that nursing mentor.
I started precepting new nurses after about six months. That was one of the best things that could have happened to me as a new nurse myself. It forced me to keep learning and looking for answers to their questions. It was good for those new nurses to see me doing that. I love working with new nurses and have become the de facto preceptor on our unit. I’ve only had one bad experience, and that was with a lazy nurse. Lazy nurses are dangerous nurses.
I’ve seen nursing change even over my short years. The worst is the increasing focus on patient satisfaction and the way patient satisfaction is measured. I understand the need to measure, but it is frustrating to be graded on someone’s perception of care rather than the actual care given. Even more frustrating is when administration themselves set up impossible expectations. This is a hospital, not a hotel and spa. I am your nurse, not your maid. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but our reimbursements from the government are going to be linked to those scores. Thus the administrative frenzy.
I do see a positive future for new nurses, but I believe that nurses are going to have to be more aggressive in pursuing that future. Too many sit back and let other, non-nursing personnel make decisions that affect our day-to-day work life.
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your book of shifts.
I cared for a woman with end-stage cancer. She was devastatingly serene and openly discussed her situation with me. She had a powerful faith and trusted that this was her path in life. However, she had a daughter my age who wasn’t dealing well with the prognosis. I asked if she needed to speak with the chaplain. She said that she had a question for me instead. “What would you need to hear your mother say?”
For three days I would see her last during each round so that we could talk uninterrupted. It was a miraculously slow weekend that allowed me to spend so much time with her. I don’t remember specifics of our conversations. I remember her clear blue eyes. I remember her touching my hand to comfort me when I would tear up. And I remember this orange and black hat someone had crocheted for her. She left it on the table because it was too rough for her sensitive skin and used a towel instead to keep her head warm. I stayed up the night before her discharge to knit her the soft cap I would have made for my mother. She hugged me before she left, and when I closed my eyes I could have sworn it was my mother I was holding.
Not just a nurse: what about when you are not at work? What do you get up to in the rest of your life?
My favorite days involve a little running, some writing, and good food with good friends. I enjoy traveling and do so whenever the opportunity arises.
I’ve always wanted to keep a journal, but I was afraid to do so growing up because of the lack of privacy in my home. Naturally, I now keep a little blog. I enjoy the friendships I’ve made through it.
Piss and Vinegar: name 3 things that really get under your skin, push your buttons, or generally irritate you at work or outside of work.
Nurses who don’t help their co-workers. If you’re having a great shift, then you have the opportunity to make someone’s shift better. There’s no rule that only a ward clerk or aide can answer call lights. And don’t leave without asking a least one nurse if there’s anything you can do to help him or her leave. You can’t chart for someone else, but you can take a few minutes to pass a med or take care of a last minute patient request.
Bad drivers. I do my best to drive safely for myself and the others around me. I don’t appreciate over-the-top speeding, close lane changes, and the running of red lights. How about we avoid any unnecessary tragedies today? Thank you very much.
My parents. God knows I love them, but….
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the nurses or general public out there.
Nurses: I love this crazy bond we share.
Everyone else: I probably don’t remember your name or story when we run into each other in the real world, but I do remember your face. I’m always touched that you remember me.