The other day, I had one of “those” shifts. I’ve mentioned before that I’m married to a nurse; this was one of those days when it’s a blessing. I didn’t have to explain my day. I didn’t have to break down what happened, who was there, what was the big deal, etc. I simply said, “One of THOSE shifts.” She nodded and hugged me. Nothing more. And that’s all I needed.
It got me thinking: How do you explain these types of days to the “non-nurse” or the “non-health care” person? I mean, these types of days are what define our careers. The makings of a good nurse are created during these shifts–you either sink or swim. And when I say sink, I mean something goes wrong. Something bad happens because you couldn’t “keep up.”
Now, I’m not saying I’m something great. Not at all. I’m simply pointing out, if I had been the type of nurse who is okay with just getting by, one of my patients would have been hurt.
I thought I’d try to break down what 15 minutes of my day was like:
Enter room 1 to begin assessment:
- Realize the room is a mess–layover from the chaos the previous shift endured
- Empty garbage cans since garbage is overflowing onto floor
-Interruption- PHONE RINGING *have to answer phone since all other staff members are busy and have their hands full*
Re-enter room 1:
- Try to resume assessment
- Realize patient is intubated and sedation drip is dry–my IV line is about to alarm
- Blood pressure is below parameters. Adjust vasopressor
-Interruption- CALL BELL RINGING. THEN A SECOND AND THIRD CALL BELL RING *have to answer one at a time*
I walk towards room 1 and realize I need my sedation medication that is completely out and alarming in the room. I double back…
Attempt to re-enter room 1:
- Coworker calling out for help
- Needs assistance with patient in room
Double back again to re-enter room 1:
-Interruption- Stopped by physician asking questions about my patient #2
Finished answering questions and discussing orders
Make another and re-enter room 1:
- Changed out sedation medication
- Titrate vasopressor medication
- Attempt to resume/begin assessment
And that was just 15 minutes of my day! I work in an ICU. I had two sick patients and got a third admission due to low staffing–things only got busier.
It’s the little things that eat up your day. But it’s also the little things that dictate my day and how efficiently I can perform my duties. We as nurses always have a plan of attack when we start our shift. The problem is, those plans never actually work out due to the chaos.
And my words still don’t grasp the pulse of the work environment. I actually had a family member of one of my patients ask me mid-afternoon, “Have you even sat down today?”
I actually had to think about it.
No. I didn’t sit down all day.
For more Inspiration and Stories pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!