THE END: The original title of this post was WANTED: Respect For Nurses! I kind of wrote this in reverse and I am actually beginning with the end. When I got to the very end of my post, I realized the topic was something totally different from when I started writing. I felt I needed to tag THE END at the beginning before you all start to read my rant. That is why writing is a form of therapy for me. It teaches me and I learn from myself while I ramble in my head. Sometimes what you’re thinking is actually different from what comes out! I was very surprised to learn what my whole point was in the first place! Happy reading and I hope you all get my point. It is really very simple… just like life. Now let’s start from the very beginning of my thought process! It does have a twist ending!
After I read THIS ARTICLE, I suddenly felt very disturbed and saddened. Click the link if you have not read it yet and you will see why I was so saddened. Since the news of Ebola in Dallas emerged, the first thing I heard in the news was that THE NURSE let the patient go home from the emergency department during the initial visit. THE NURSE did not relay the information to the doctor that the patient recently returned from Ebola stricken Liberia. THE NURSE, per the media, was the cause of this in the first place. That was all I heard the first day the news came out. Everything was preceded by the words: THE NURSE! No one ever clarified if it was anyone’s fault at all in the first place. Now, ironically, two nurses are infected with the virus after caring for the man who was the first ever case to be diagnosed in the US. The first nurse was being questioned by some about whether she followed “protocol” with the isolation procedure. The second nurse has been ridiculed for traveling, even though she contacted the CDC for permission several times. Let me clarify this one thing before I start my rant. I am not one of those people that believes I am of higher value than any other profession, particularly in the hospital setting. I respect everyone I work with and understand the importance of their job- whether you work in the kitchen or delivering supplies! I believe that every job is relevant and deserving of applause because someone’s got to do it in this world. We all have our role and place in society! This article boiled something inside of me because I know how these nurses must feel- even if just an inkling. I am imagining myself in their shoes and it makes me sad. So now let me begin my rant for the day, if only for a day! I’ve felt so much about this subject for so long, but have never written about it. The job that is called nursing is such a secret society that is only known to nurses. No one truly knows what our job is!
I was just talking with several of my co-workers the other day regarding how the nursing profession is probably perceived by all hospital staff. I have come to the conclusion that nurses are truly the only ones who know how hard our job is. Contrary to some beliefs, we do more than just chart on a computer and pass meds. That is only 40% of what we do, but to someone who is NOT a nurse, they may think that is ALL we do and I can’t blame them for thinking this. After all, we are frequently seen sitting in the station and staring at the computer screen and then giving medications to our patients. What are we actually looking at though? Well for one, we are looking at test results so that we can correlate what to do next based on results. We are also constantly looking for new orders that doctors are putting in. What do I need to do next? Then we are reading all the progress notes that are being put in by all members that are part of the patient’s care so we can relay the plan to the patient and their families in a timely manner. Patients and their families need this information and unfortunately, physicians and other members of the hospital staff cannot provide them with this soon enough. It is not always feasible due to their own time constraints and locations. We as nurses are the third party that relays some of this information to patients. This is why we are always looking at that screen until our eyes go blind and our shift is done! This is not even a bulk of what we do, but it is a mere sampling of what the heck we are constantly looking at on the computer. When we get up from that chair, we are actually following through what we just looked at to make sure our continuous tasks are done and their plan of care is communicated to them- our patients. No task is ever the same on any given day. The only task that is the same is that we come to work for 12 hours with ONE lunch break in between! Nurses take bits and pieces from every job category in a hospital setting. Nurses also have to take in bits and pieces from patients and their family members. We are the only GO TO person by everyone concerning our 4-5 patients, so our interactions are many and many of these interactions have a negative tone directed towards THE NURSE! What does this mean? Let me break it down to you by giving you a small scenario into my day!
I start the day by being handed my own personal phone where people can contact me directly throughout the day. Patient needs to have an XRAY, CT Scan, Stress Test and etcetera. I realize there are certain tests missing that are needed to safely perform a procedure. I contact a doctor to let them know. I tell the patient the bad news that they can’t eat until all tests are done. In fact, two of my patient’s can’t eat for the morning and into lunch too. Heck- maybe even dinner! Some patients are not able to make decisions and I must try to get a hold of their family members prior to their test to make sure it is ok. Family members are constantly calling for updates regarding all of my patients. Some patients have 5 kids and 10 siblings! Lab calls to report all abnormal lab values to the nurse. I have to call the doctor to let them know. The dietician has a question regarding the nutrition status of a patient. Why are they losing so much weight? Do they know what a diabetic diet is? Have you given them any education yet? The patient is getting upset and wants to eat. A patient can’t breathe and they need a breathing treatment. I call respiratory and wait for their response. Meanwhile, someone needs pain meds and it is not available yet. Some don’t even have pain meds ordered. I contact the MD to get orders. I contact pharmacy when the doctor orders the meds because it’s been an hour and my patient is screaming in pain. Pharmacy contacts us regarding lab results. I realize certain medications cannot be given safely due to patient test results or blood pressure or changes in their heart rate which I am constantly monitoring on a screen. Thankfully, I caught it. I notify the doctor to make sure it is okay to change the medication plans. I wait for the doctor to call me back. I have to walk my patient in the hallway or get him up to the chair. PT/OT calls me to make sure everything is ok with another patient so they can work with them. I have a planned discharge and start making plans for this patients needs outside of the hospital. Have they seen a diabetic educator? Can they afford their medications? Is their home environment safe? Can they live by themselves? I have to notify social services to help my patient. I have to do other tasks prior to being able to adequately discharge my patient so that we get reimbursed properly by insurance and or Medicare. An admission is coming from the emergency room. There is a slew of admission tasks I have to complete, including inputting their medication list into the system. This patient does not remember all the medications they take at home. Surprise. Surprise. I have to call their pharmacy to get the complete list. I’m concurrently working on the discharge process for another patient who just got discharge orders. XRAY is trying to get a hold of me. So is pharmacy. Oh and my patient’s cousin is also on the phone calling from New York. Then my patient is becoming agitated because he still has not eaten. His test is still pending to be done. My other patient is upset because he was told he was going home since 9:00am. It is now 4:00PM. They are still waiting for their MRI results to be read by the doctor. My other patient is calling for help and needs to go to the bathroom. There is no nursing care tech (NCT) to help. The NCT is helping another patient. An attending wants an EKG STAT for their patient. My IV for another patient is leaking. The pump keeps on alarming and I have to get to that room and turn it off. Etcetera. Etcetera. In the midst of passing meds on time, checking the computer for more orders, responding to alarming beds, and answering endless phone calls directed my way as someone is looking at me waiting for me to get off the phone so they can ask me a question about my patient! It is endless and this example is not even the bulk of it. Nurses have accepted that this is our job- we are the next line closest to the patient. We are the ones who stay with the patient throughout the whole shift as others come and go throughout the day! We are the middle person exchanging all sorts of information with hundreds of people in a shift.
The nurse can never say they are too busy and refuse to do for a patient. Every job pertaining to our patient is our job. They are our responsibility regardless of who is involved in their care. We are giving their medications that will affect them. Even if it was ordered by a doctor, if we wrongfully administer it, the bulk of the blame is on me. I should have known better. That is what it boils down to. I get that. I accepted that when I wanted to be a nurse. What I don’t understand is the lack of respect given to nursing as a profession at the bedside level. We are not slaves and can only do so much in the course of 12 hours. There is a decline in nurses wanting to be nurses at the bedside level and I am slowly starting to understand why. Slowly! I am not speaking for myself, because I have learned to adjust to this change after having done it for the last 12 years. It has changed a lot in that time. Even nurses have lost respect for that job we call “bedside” nursing. I have my own rewards that I gain from doing this job- mostly at a personal level. I have accepted it and take it for what it is and I go home and call it a day. I am not affected negatively and still love my job! The strain is what I feel through talking with my nursing colleagues who are nurses staffed at hospitals here in Illinois as well as some other states. It is the same everywhere you go. This is not necessarily in my place of employment! It exists everywhere. We’re sorry we didn’t pick up the phone within 30 seconds. We were on the other line. I’m sorry MRI staff. I have not done the MRI checklist yet. I’m sorry pharmacist. The PTT results are not in yet. Phlebotomy was short staffed, so I had to draw the blood myself. I’m sorry to my patient. I did not get to take you to the bathroom in a timely manner. I was helping another patient and the NCT was busy too. I’m sorry doctor. The EKG was not done yet. We don’t have an EKG tech and I have to do the EKG myself… after I draw someone’s blood. I’m sorry pharmacist. I haven’t had the chance to ask my new patient what medications they took today. You’ll have to wait until I ask them before you can time their next dose. I’ll probably have to call their pharmacy first. I’m sorry patient. I know you have been wanting to go home for the last 8 hours, but I am waiting for the doctor to give me the orders and your papers. Please stop yelling at me. There are no transporters available at this time? Sure patient. I will take you downstairs to the lobby for discharge. I want you to be happy with everything. I will be the transporter. I’m sorry the food is horrible. You are on a salt free diet. I will call the dietary department and see what we can do. I’m sorry you didn’t get any sleep. I have to check your blood pressure every four hours. I’m sorry I’m taking too long transporter. I will be in there shortly to help you transport my patient as soon as I get off the phone with a patient’s concerned daughter. Please don’t time me and give me only a minute and threaten to leave for your next assignment! Etcetera. Etcetera.
Now the best part of the story. I thought of this for a minute after trying to come up with a good ending for all this rambling! You have to read this last part and take it all in!
After rambling on in this entry, I have come to realize that all we need is respect and understanding. I am not talking WE as in nurses anymore. This whole thing is not even about nursing at all. That is just what I know and what I can compare things to. I’m only using nursing because this is what I do, but I see this everywhere I go. Everyone is fighting their own battles and their own understanding of their own jobs and lives. This happened at Target today when a customer was so upset because the line was long. I was checking out and she was behind me. There was only one cashier. The customer was next in line. The cashier was not at all friendly and she looked unhappy. She said she has been so busy working by herself all day. This happens at Walmart. This happens at Macy’s, especially during the holiday season. I realized after writing this whole thing that people in general just need to respect one another. People in this world need to respect each other and just be happy to do A JOB! YOUR JOB! No job is an easy job! People just need to be happy and not complain so much. Complaining is fine sometimes, but once you complain everyday for most of the day, that is no longer called complaining. It is called whining. As a parent, I am not tolerant to whiny behavior. LOL! That is what this world is lacking. Everyone is looking out for themselves only. The easy way out. The easiest way out without any kind of struggle, expecting always the best of everything. This does not apply only to the hospital setting. The society as a whole lacks respect for anyone and everyone is so angry in the world. Everyone is complaining and negative- whether it be about their job or something about their personal life. I feel like the world is slowly becoming a negative place. This is so sad to me because I really do try to stay positive. I repeat positive things and tell myself everyday that I am thankful for all I have and have a job I love. Positive, right? When I think negative and repeat negative, I feel negative. I LOVE THIS JOB and then I find that I really do. I love waking up early and going to the gym! Okay. Okay. Okay. That one does not work just yet. (insert laugh here) There are very few people I can talk to who have a positive vibe! There is always something to complain about more than to be thankful for and that is sad. Please take a deep breath. Do your job. Help others who are struggling. Live your life positively the best you can. Smile. Take another deep breath. You are still breathing. It will be okay. You are okay. Life is simple. Smile. Take it easy. Take another deep breath. Smile. Be positive. Deep Breath. Smile and enjoy life. Etcetera. Etcetera.
See what happened? We went from Ebola, to the nursing profession, to life, to positivity and then good vibes. It’s all a cycle. Could you imagine a world where people were 75% positive in their 24 hour day? Tomorrow you will wake up and it will be a brand new day! You should realize that yesterday is done! You are in charge of your life’s cycle today! Make it a good cycle, everyone! I really need to make better decisions and live positively. Will you?
But first… let me take a Vitamin D tablet (and a selfie). Have a good day!