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.
HI, I’m Angie, I live and work in northern NSW, Australia. I work in the emergency dept. of a rural hospital. This is my 8th year of nursing (which means I will now be referred to as a “thereafter”, as my rate of pay no longer goes up with each yr!).
I have worked medical and surgical wards, hospital float nurse, a bit of community and palliative care, patient transport, high dependency unit and currently in the emergency dept.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
I didn’t think of nursing until after I had my own children and was wondering what to do next (read – having midlife crisis that my brain would atrophy from too much playdough making!). I knew that I needed to work with people. That I needed to do something that revolved around others. That was dynamic and had opportunities for change. I loved the experience of pregnancy and birthing (yep….even the labour and delivery!) and thought that midwifery would be a job that would be rewarding and enjoyable.
I enrolled in bach. of nursing with every intention of moving straight in to midwifery when I graduated. I didn’t want to do any general nursing and had a preconceived idea that ‘old crustys’ were not my cup of tea. What I didn’t expect was that I would LOVE general nursing and all the wonderful characters I have had the privilege of caring for. I felt as though I’d found my ideal job and I can’t imagine doing anything else that I’d love as much as nursing. In my 3rd yr as a nurse I applied and got accepted into a mid. training program but declined the position and chose to stay in the general system. I still plan to do midwifery sometime but right now I’m loving what I do.
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’?
There wasn’t nearly enough prac. in the uni degree I did. I feel I coped pretty well with the transition as I was an older grad. with more life experience. I had already been in the workforce and had a family with two small children, so I had reasonable time mx. and organisational skills.
I think it’s sad that in the push to become recognised as ‘professional’ the institutions responsible for nurse education moved to such an academic weighted system. I believe a better balance between the older hospital training and the university system needs to be implemented to better prepare student nurses for their role. I also feel it the focus on academics minimises the value and importance of the bedside skills.
There are a few things that ‘opened my eyes’ when I started. One was the jaded-ness of some of my colleagues. Before I started nursing I naively believed that all health care providers were there because they wanted to care for people. It was a rude awakening that a few nurses made it clear that they no longer wanted to be in the industry but lack the courage or financial stability to get out.
Another eye opener was to the bureaucracy involved in health care.
But the most important eye opener was that small acts of kindness create large ripples of calm and happiness. The cup of tea, the time taken to sit and listen to someone cry, hand holding……those things are what patients and their families notice about their stay and your part in their care.
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?
How old do you have to be to qualify as ‘older’? I’m nearly 40, have been nursing for 8 yrs. The changes I’ve seen are a huge increase in the amount of clerical work / data collection / filling-in-another-bloody-form! And a move from paper documents to computer tick-&-flicks. Our E.D. has implemented an Electronic Medical Record, which has meant a large increase in the time required by nurses to document well with no increase in staffing levels to accommodate this.
On the up side I have seen a strong move to evidence based practice. A move to more pt. centred care, where the pt has more control and direction of their care. Greater acceptance of alternative modalities such as acupuncture / massage / meditation / and some naturopathic remedies. I see a really positive future for nurses graduating now…..IF that’s what they create for themselves. They will have to fight for hard to retain safe nursing ratios / funding / services etc. but if they are passionate and determined they will achieve it. They will also find that the general community has huge faith in nurses and will support them. Nursing has the potential to be amazing or devastating, it is dependent on what you put in. New nurses need to get involved, be on local decision making committees, join your local branch of the union, be aware of changes before they happen and how they will affect you. Get active!
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your book of shifts.
So many incredible stories, everyday has a small moment that is worth of writing down and tucking away, but these three come to mind today….
When I was doing pt transport I took a guy of about 50yr for a brain scan. He had ca lung and new onset of confusion. They were looking to see if he had cerebral mets. He had a 15yr old daughter and a friend waiting for him back at the hospital. Radiographer ran him through the ct scanner and then said “SHIT! Get him back to your hospital quick, he is on borrowed time”. He had a big mass in his head, lots of cerebral oedema and a significant midline shift. We did the scoop and run and got him back. His doctor wasn’t particularly interested in any changes to medications, he suggested keeping him an inpatient until he died (which he figured would be hours to days). The palliative care nurse knew that he really wanted to spend the weekend at home with his daughter. She asked the doc. about medications to buy him some time. Doc. pretty much said ‘you do what you want, I’ll sign the order’. He went home with only oral dexamethasone added. Six months later I was working in the emergency dept. and he came in, this time he was ready to die. He taught me that no matter what the scans / bloods / reports suggest, determination and will to live can prove them all wrong. Never say never. Never give time frames.
The first time I witnessed a cardiac arrest and successful defibrillation. As Murphy’s law will always have it the emergency dept. was bursting at the seams and every bed was full. I was attending to a 50yr old man with chest pain. He’d walked into the dept. only 5 mins earlier and we’d put another pt back out into the waiting room to empty a bed for him. ECG showed he was having an inferior infarct. I was cannulating when he said “everything is going black”. I looked up from his arm and saw him lose consciousness and the monitor behind showing VF. I said “I need a little help here!” just loudly enough to be heard by my colleague who strode across the room with our defib. on a trolley, put on the pads, defibbed. him. The patient then woke up in a beautiful sinus rhythm, looked at his stunned wife and asked “what happened?” My colleague says…”you had a heart attack, we fixed it”… and walked off to see to the other multitudes as though we’d done nothing more than apply a band-aid. A moment of silent bewildered amazement from the three of us, patient / wife / nurse…….and then back to the hurly burly busy-ness of what we do.
When I did patient transport I worked with one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He had no medical training, he wasn’t even a wardsman, he was ‘the driver’ but the CARE he gave to all our passengers (patients) was incredible. He was a man who believed in the goodness in all people. He always found qualities in patients to admire, even those patients that I found annoying or unlikable. He treated all of our passengers as friends, he chatted to them and engaged them and made them feel important and safe with no idea that this was the effect of his friendliness. He used to put all his change in the console in the front of the vehicle. He called it the ‘emergency fund’. The ‘emergency fund’ was used when patients needed something while we were out. Most often what he decided they ‘needed’ was cheering up. We took old ladies for ice-cream, took a young patient who was missing his takeaways to drive-through for burgers, had a pt cry because we bought her a bag of hot chips with tomato sauce. But the best and most memorable was taking a long term hospital pt, a young man who was a partial quad. to lunch on the way back the hospital from an appt. We parked near the river bank, took the patient out of the vehicle and parked him, still on his stretcher, on the grass at the river’s edge. Then we went and got fish and chips and lemonades and had a proper F n C’s by the river.
Not just a nurse: what about when you are not at work? What do you get up to in the rest of your life?
Lots of ‘the rest of my life’ revolves around the two people most important to me, my daughters. My eldest has just left home to go to uni. That was a mixture of sadness at her leaving, pride in what an amazing human being she’s grown into and excitement that she’s off on the next adventure in her life. My 2nd daughter is 15yr and off to Cambodia and Thailand next month visiting an elephant refuge with friends.
I love amateur theatre but sadly rehearsals do not love rotating rosters.
I love live music, especially music festivals.
I love being immersed in green, being in the bush is one of the most relaxing, healing and calming things I can do for myself.
I am passionate about social justice and environmental protection. I try to practice what I believe by being as involved as I can with local and international agencies that support my ideals. I try to ‘give back’ to community as much as I can. I’m lucky to live in one of the most beautiful and fertile areas in Australia, surrounded by world heritage rainforest, and feel a responsibility to do my best to ensure it’s here for generations to come.
I paddle for a dragon boat club, Mt Warning Dragons. This year our club, including three other nurses that I work with went to both state and national titles and picked up a swag of medals and qualified to compete at the world dragon boat titles in Hong Kong. As one of the smallest clubs at the competition we felt pretty bloody chuffed!
But really after work / cleaning / washing / cooking….repeat………there’s not a heap of time left for much else.
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.
· Lack of compassion.
· Lack of awareness
· Lack of care
Pretty much all the things that piss me off stem from one of these.
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the nurses or general public out there.
Be kind to each other
Respect each other
Care for each other.
That goes for nurses and general public.
Treat each other in the way you would want your family to be treated. After all we really are all one family.