Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just Smile

I never knew that smiling could really fool people into thinking you’re happy. But in the mornings when the day staff comes on, they tell me I must have had a good night because I’m smiling. I reply by telling them I’m smiling because I finally get to go home!
When I’m working and in the middle of being stressed beyond belief, my patients and my co-workers are unable to tell. For some reason, I just smile through the stress at work. At least it seems to make everyone else feel better. My patients certainly don’t need to know and I’ve learned that it helps the rest of the staff that I’m working with. It helps them to think that it’s not so bad and they can make it through too. I never realized at first that I was smiling through everything. I guess after the night that I realized crying didn’t help me, my body just naturally reverted to smiling.
So SO true

Sunday, October 21, 2012

For New Nurses

Here’s a bit of advice for new nurses starting out. There will be so many supplies that you want with you on the floor, not just as a new nurse. You will always need extra pens, perhaps a calculator, scissors, markers, etc. There are a lot. I would like to tell you the things that I have found I need to have every day and you should have too.

As a starter, use a pencil box! I can’t tell you how handy having this has been:

I use only black pens and always have extras in my box as well as in my bag in my locker. We’re about to go onto a computer system, but since we’re not there yet I also need red pens. I always have an extra of that in my box as well. Then I have highlighters. I keep a yellow highlighter in my pocket and various other colors in the box. I also have a black marker. These are used to write names and room numbers on charts. I didn’t have one at first, but after I acquired one, it made things run more smoothly. I keep a pair of scissors with me in the box. I don’t need them all the time so I like to keep them in the box since I keep enough in my pocket. I keep a pencil with an eraser in there too. While I don’t really need it for work, I use it to request my schedule. I keep a calculator to add up intake and output at the end of my shift. I usually don’t use it, but have it just in case. Once again, this will change once we go to computers. And let’s not forget, a power bar! I always have one or two power bars with me because most of the time I don’t have the time to sit and eat. This way, if I don’t have time to run in back and heat something up, I know that I at least have something to eat that can hold me over. Power bars have lots of protein so they’re great for long days. Now, here’s my last item that almost no one else on my floor carries and it really is a crucial item to have… it’s a pen light!
I can’t tell you how amazed I am that most people don’t carry them around. You’re a nurse and we will get patients every now and then that need to have neuro checks done. You must have a pen light for this. I end up loaning mine out all the time to the day nurse when she doesn’t have one. But I only give it to them if I know I’m coming back the next night. Otherwise, I know I’ll never see it again. And for the few weeks that my pen light was broken, before I got a new one, I brought a small flashlight to work.

Now, let me tell you why pen lights are of such a necessity. First of all because of the neuro check that I mentioned. You have to check pupil reaction for a neuro check. There have also been multiple times during my clinicals while I was still in nursing school that doctors went around looking for pen lights. And the nurses didn’t have them, but I as the nursing student did! When you have a patient that you are debating calling a neuro RRT on, you need to check their pupils! As a charge nurse for my floor I have called multiple neuro RRTs and I always check pupil reaction because the doctors will be asking about it. There was a time when one of the patients had one pupil that was unreactive to light, necessary neuro RRT! Another time I saved the day with my pen light, was when another nurse had a patient who pulled out her NG tube. The PA needed to replace it, but she didn’t have a light and neither did the nurse. But there I was, coming to the rescue with my pen light! And with that, the NG tube was put back into place.
Purchase a pen light
I’m sure there may be more needed for other types of floors, but this is my must-have list for a standard med-surg floor. And this of course, does not include the stethoscope I wear around my neck!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Survival Guide to Nursing School Post #1

I never thought that nursing school would be as tough as it was. And I didn't just come out of high school and go into nursing. I have a good background to judge. Nursing was my second degree. My first was in Biology from which I graduated with honors. Getting my bachelor's in nursing was much tougher than my bachelor's in biology.
I survived nursing school!
And you will too! But not without a new best friend. It will come naturally, because you will be like a fish out of water with all the work and the questions and the clinicals and holding people's lives in your hands. You need someone to study with, to vent with and to ask all of your questions to. Your friends who are not in nursing school will never understand! They think they know what it's like to be in school, but they don't know what it's like to be in nursing school. I met my best friend in my first real nursing class. After that, we went through every single class together and now we work on the same floor in the same hospital! That was not planned, it just happened to work out that way. She works during the day because she has 2 kids and I work nights. So now at work when I come in early and she's working I always go to her and see if I can help her and I do the same when I'm leaving work and she's coming on. She does the same for me. And when we were both first starting out, there were times when the day nurse left me with 8 patients who were a mess and I had no idea what to do, she was there staying late to help. I owe her my sanity. She is an amazing nurse and mother and I am so thankful that she was there in my class needing a friend too. Don't worry, this all comes naturally with nursing students. I have seen it with everyone in my class, especially those who are getting a second degree. We all bonded together and helped each other through everything. We made sure everyone got through it, we would not leave anyone behind. That's just what nurses do and that's why we became nurses!
I survived

Monday, October 8, 2012


I have to say that I have never ever officially taken a break on the floor that I work on. The only time I have taken a break is when I was floated to the ER. When I worked in the holding room I was able to leave when I had cleared out all of my patients. The other time I was there in the main room, I had sent all of my patients to their floors. On my own floor, none of the night nurses really goes in the break room to sit and eat. When we actually have time to eat, and yes there have been plenty of nights where I have too much to do to eat at all, we take the food out to our station and eat it there. I'm lucky I find time to pee. Usually around 2 in the morning I force myself to take the time to go to the bathroom. And of course, one time that I took a second bathroom break, my beeper went off telling me that my patient's heart rate was in the 180's and I had to go running. That'll teach me. But yes, the unfortunate truth is, I am always working while eating and have never been able to take a few minutes for myself. There is always more work to do.

And the day never ends at 7:30 like it's supposed to. It takes at least until 8 to give report to the nurse coming on. When you have 7-8 patients who are so sick, there is a lot of details to go over with them. After report is done, usually I have to finish writing notes on my patients, finish goal, finish other paperwork. I have seen nurses stay 4 hours after their shift is over to finish work. Yes, you read correctly, 4 hours! And no matter what the reason for staying late, even if it's to send a patient to a procedure, we never get overtime. My shift is 12.5 hours, I get paid for only 11.5 of those and usually work 13.5-14 hours with no break and no overtime. And yes, there have been days where I have not eaten during this time period and have not gone to the bathroom.

While it is not nurse's week, this sums it up nicely...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

For the L&D Nurses

A little humor to start this blog
We've all said it

A little about me...

I’d like to begin by telling everyone a little about myself. I only started my nursing career a year and two months ago. I have always been able to tell people exactly how many months I have been a nurse for because I was just waiting to hit that year mark so I could get out of the med-surg nursing and move to a specialty. Without giving away too much information, I work on a cardiac medical surgical floor, where the nurses have 7-8 patients who in any other hospital would be considered step down or ICU. That’s right, that means there are days where it’s like taking care of 8 step down patients who are all on drips and can be just one day out of open heart surgery. This means that the stress is through the roof. In just the year that I have worked on my floor I have seen more nurses come and go than most people see in their career. But the nurses I work with are some of the most amazing, most caring people that I have ever come across in my life. It is heartbreaking every time one of them leaves. I do work nights, but I have also worked days, when my floor was short, so I have perspective from both day and night shifts. I still am constantly asking questions, because there is always more to learn. But we have many new nurses who come to me for help and advice and I absolutely love being able to help them. I would also love to learn about anyone who happens to read this post. What type of nurse are you?