Nursing: how to love and hate your profession at the same time
It gives me chills because I can still remember the exact way I felt when I stepped into the room of my first patient-during my first clinical rotation.I didn't really know what to expect. I never spent time in a hospital, this was all new to me.
I had my shiny stethoscope, my purple pen light, my fresh pair of scrubs with my school name patch sewn neatly onto the sleeve, and a clip board with my "care plan" for my patient that day. All my ducks were in a row. I had passed my physical assessment class and I could take vital signs. I thought I was going to have a nice easy day with my "sweet little old patient," and maybe take their blood pressure. I was CLUELESS.
My patient was completely dependent and bedridden, unable to communicate at all (only screamed out) , had multiple IV lines, feeding tube, trach, catheter, missing limbs. She had every diagnosis under the sun, and at least 30 different medications. She was living to die, and I was terrified.
I remember walking directly back out of the room after I saw her, as she was yelling out to me. I took a deep breath before I went back into her room, "Katie, you can do this."
At that moment, I decided I was going to be a nurse.
Being a nurse was something I never planned on. Hell, the medical field never crossed my mind at all. No one in my family worked in the medical field, and I never had anyone close to me that was sick. But, I always worked well under stress and in a fast paced environment, and had a strong stomach. Nothing grosses me out!
There is a place in my heart for people who need to be taken care of; there is a place in my soul for the elderly. I've dealt with unruly people and drug addicts for a short time in my life as well. I always had a desire to take care of other people in some form.
Nursing school was hell, I'm not going to sugar coat it! I ended up graduating 2 semesters early with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). Directly from there I worked in pain management and some outpatient surgery- the job was easy/routine, but I felt like I needed to do more with my knowledge and skills.
From there, I started working night shift on an IMCU Telemetry unit. This was my "real" first year of being a nurse. I could tell you that I loved being able to use every aspect of nursing on that floor. But, I could also tell you I felt overwhelmed and stressed out 80% of the time on the job. After that, I went back to surgery in a hospital, where I currently work.
Trust me when I say some people think I'm absolutely insane when I talk about the things I do in my profession.
I can think of many times I left work with happy tears, angry tears, and sad tears.
I've seen a patient go from 0-100 real quick, and NOT in a good way.
I've cried and prayed with dying patients and their families.
I've been kicked, bitten, punched, and had things thrown at me.
I've been called every nasty name in the book and been grabbed inappropriately.
I've seen abuse, neglect, withdrawal, suicide attempt.
I've seen a baby born.
I've held the hand of someone who was ready to give up and die.
I've taken away peoples self dignity by having to feed, bathe, and clean them up.
I've had to play charades with a patient who didn't speak my language; and I didn't speak theirs.
I've came to like taking care of some of the "frequent flyers" because I knew all their tricks.
I've helped moved 500 lb patients, and picked up 80 lb patients on my own to move them.
I've seen someone have their donated organs harvested.
I've had to invade peoples privacy and private places.
I've seen people lose parts of their bodies.
I've taken care of women my own age who are living an opposite life than me.
I've called doctors at 2 AM just to have them scream at me or hang up on me.
I've administered chemo drugs to patients with cancer.
I've taken care of people who were being kept alive by only machines.
Whether it's helping someone take a sip of water or eat a snack because they are too weak to do it on their own, holding someones hand before surgery because they're afraid, or telling someone the cold harsh truth about their life and health.
"It's not going to be okay, this is going to be hard, i'm here for you."
As a nurse you put yourself in unsafe situations, sacrifice/risk your OWN health, work long nights, weekends, and holidays. Perform CPR, give endless medications, infuse fluids and blood transfusions. Diagnose a new onset stroke or heart attack. Make decisions for someone else you never thought you would.
This is only a fraction of the things I've done as a nurse. This is what I LOVE.
I love the team work, the chaos, the critical thinking, the challenges you face daily.
Making a difference in someones life is an impeccable feeling. This is only the beginning for me, and each day I learn something new.