Nursing is not just a career. It is an art. It is a calling. It is a skill. A skill that you go through two to four years of rigorous, laboring, and extensive training to acquire. And in my opinion, that’s just the bottom layer of the cake. The “foundation”, if you will. The real training doesn’t start until you hit the floor and are assigned your own patients to take care of. Every day brings something different. A normal day for you could be my patient’s last. We just never know what we’re getting ourselves into on a daily basis. This job is rewarding and beautiful, but it is not easy!
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone jokes about me only working 3 days a week. “Oh you have it made!” or “So you’re working hard, but hardly working (then they laugh and I just blankly stare making them feel awkward)….” I could go on but I might hit my head on this table in front of me so I’ll stop. Yes, I work three days a week. Three days a week I’m taking care of someone’s loved one. Three days a week I could be removing chest tubes from a patient’s pleural space, post lobectomy, taking the risk of having some huge complications if not done appropriately. Three days a week I could be managing drains coming out of every orifice of a patients body (with blood, urine, puss, stool, and mucous), making sure they are cleaned appropriately and draining. Three days a week I could be pulling out sheaths from femoral arteries and putting an insane amount of pressure on my patients groin for long periods at a time while their artery naturally clots, preventing a bleed out. Three days a week I am moving 200lb plus patients in their beds, and bathing them while changing their linens all at the same time…..yes it can be done folks! We nurses are the bed making/bathing masters (shout out to all of my PCT’s)! Three days a week I could be chasing after bed alarms of confused patients wanting to escape their beds because their mental status is altered and they could fall very badly. Three days a week I am pushing pain meds, fighting nausea, pleasing families, juggling discharge and admissions, feeding patients, filling water jugs, starving because I haven’t eaten, and competing for the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest bladder hold, all while keeping track of EVERYTHING that I have mentioned above! Not to mention this all is within a time limit! Many other nurses could list some CRAZY skills that they do on a daily basis (from other disciplines), but these are of my personal experience. These 3 days a week for me are some of the HARDEST days of my life! It is my job as a nurse these days, to not only manage the physiologic status of your loved ones body, but to also meet the emotional needs of every patient and family member that I take care of. Do you think I am able to leave ALL of this at work? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
When I come home from work, I always have this little anxious feeling lingering with me. I NEVER feel relieved when I clock out! The minute I do, I’m running through everything I did that day and trying to remember if I charted x, y, and z! In the world of nursing, if you didn’t chart it, you didn’t do it! I hate that phrase! I did a crap load today that I didn’t chart, but it’s because I was busy taking care of my patients! It would take me until 10 pm to chart everything I needed to, but I have to be back at 7am! I kinda feel set up for failure with that one, but I do the best I can with time I have. Don’t tell me I don’t manage my time well! In my opinion, taking care of human beings is the priority in this profession. Unfortunately the business feels otherwise. (Money is the root of all evil, folks!) My mind just runs about my whole day. Did I chart that output? Did I label that urine? Did I reassess that pain med? I know my patients are okay, but I worry about the documenting. It’s a lot to do it one day! It’s not always just the “documenting” that I lose rest over, it’s the emotions too!
I grow very attached to some of my patients. I take pride in getting to know them and really making them feel loved! I want my patients to know that I am there for them, and to not hesitate to ask for me at any time! This is my job! No matter how crazy the day gets, I’m here for you! When I go through my day and one of my patients receives a poor prognosis, has a hiccup in their recovery, or there just isn’t an answer to what’s causing an illness, I hurt too! I HURT for my patients! I FEEL for my patients! I feel it’s part of what makes a good nurse, the ability to feel for them! It’s so easy for me to put myself in their shoes and think “That could be my (Mom, dad, sister, brother, fill in the blank…….).” I can’t tell you how many times I take a few minutes of my lunch hour going to check on a patient I had the prior week or the day before. I always want to follow up and encourage them! I’m not sure if that’s healthy or not, but I do it! It is HARD to leave these emotions at work! Don’t think we nurses just take care of patients and don’t think of them ever again! It’s not like that at all! When our patients have a crazy day, we are worked up too! We lose sleep over it too! We’re constantly thinking, “Could I have done anything different?” or “I wonder how Mrs. Jones is doing?” We certainly don’t leave our work “at work.” Don’t think that at all!
It takes us nurses about a day to recover from a week of work. Our minds and body eventually start to settle. It’s pretty much EAT SLEEP NURSE for 72 hours of our week (if you’re on that schedule). To all of the working moms and dads out there, you guys are my heros! I know this job is not easy on your family! But not only are you taking care of your own family, you work hard to take care of someone else’s! That is SUPERHERO STATUS! It’s just my husband and I, and it always makes me feel so sad when I have to stay late (like everyday) to CHART! We don’t really get to spend any real time together except on my off days. Thankfully he is supportive of me and knows I’m just trying to do my job well.
I want to end on this. I wrote this because many of us have family, friends, patients, and people close to us that truly don’t understand what we do. No one will ever fully get it until they walk a day in our shoes. I wouldn’t even try. We can’t go around telling our patients about the business behind this profession, and we can’t just leave on time without documenting what we did. Charting requirements seem like they’re just getting worse. There are days we all just want to call out for a “mental health” day because we need it! I feel you! I want everyone reading this to know that nurses are THE most amazing human beings on this planet! I don’t know many people who work as hard as we do, with the requirements at hand. We most definitely carry our work home with us! It’s really hard to find a healthy balance in this profession when it comes to emotion. That’s one of the hard parts about our job! At the end of the day, I just want to take the best possible care of my patients and be the best nurse that I can be, all charting and business shenanigans aside! I feel called and equipped to make a difference in the lives of my patients! Nurses LOVE and CARE! It’s not that easy to just let go, and go on with life. We love what we do, and we continue to do it because we care! When I lay my head to sleep, I thank God for getting me through my day. I say a little prayer for my patients and ask Him to ease my mind so I can sleep. I get right back at it in the morning. It’s never easy. It’s never predictable, but being a nurse to me, is WORTH it. What a beautiful mess this is…..
Your Heart Is Mine,