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Respecting the world outside the doors of critical care


alphacell | Veer

I’m an ‘ICU’ nurse. I’ve been in critical care pretty much my whole career in one way, shape, or form. Every nurse has their forte’, and mine is the world of critical care.

Maybe it’s because I’m an adrenal junkie?

Some would say it’s because I’m a man (the good ole’ male-nurse stereotype).

Or maybe it’s my need for ‘control’? I don’t know. What I do know is when I step outside those doors of critical care my heart starts to race just a lil’. Each time I am outside my comfort zone I gain more respect for those nurses who do it every day.

The other day I worked on the telemetry floor. Working in a smaller rural hospital it’s part of the job. When it’s the census or staffing, when you work in the ICU it’s part of your job to ‘float’ to other departments when the need arises.

It was my turn the other day.

I must tell ya, I couldn’t remember the last time I worked ‘outside’ of ICU? Don’t’ get me wrong, it’s neither good nor bad, it’s just been the luck of the draw. Going from a 2-3 critical care patient assignment to a 5-8 telemetry assignment doesn’t sound like much, but it requires a whole new way of thinking and prioritizing.

I really don’t know how they do it??

You get pulled in every direction. Physicians, different services, tests, procedures, meals, blood sugars, transport, phone calls, family concerns, patient needs, etc. And that’s just for ONE patient. I failed to mention EKG monitoring and all it entails with alarms and trouble-shooting emergencies. I swear, every time I was in the midst of checking off one task I got pulled to start / finish another. The nurses on those floors are professional ‘fire fighters’ in my eyes. The spend their days putting out ‘fires’.

Juggling all that and then giving the care needed for each patient takes a very special person. I almost forgot how gifted these nurses are.

While we ICU nurses handle the most grave of critical illnesses and battle life-threatening emergencies, it is worlds away from the task-masters that balance that kind of patient load out there in telemetry. While we are at it, this respect applies to the general medical-surgical nurses as well. As the severity of the patients condition is lowered the number of patients per nurse is elevated. (That critical balance between nurse-to-patient ratio). I know I couldn’t’ do the job they do every day.

For some stranger reason I think some ICU nurses (and other critical care specialties) think they are a ‘better’ nurse than others simply because of the nature of our work. I implore and invite any of them to step into the ‘telemetry’ shoes for just one day.

A special recognition and respect to all those nurses working outside my walls of critical care. You truly are gifted and talented, thank you.

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