Respecting the world outside the doors of critical care

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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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6 Responses to Respecting the world outside the doors of critical care

  1. Good article. I can relate to what Nurse Dent said. I work on a busy telemetry floor, and people *hate* floating to us. Everybody has a version of busy, but ours is (arguably) the busiest…or at least the most hectic. I tell the med-surg floats, as well as the new nurses that are organic to us, that if they can master our floor, they can work anywhere. I tell the ICU nurses that float to us to quit whining and get to work! (No offense meant, Mr. Dent!)

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Mr. Dog None taken! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Great article that hits home. These people are true fire fighters and on top of never having management doing the right thing, they are certainly on their own every working day. I am a upbeat positive person usually, pobodys nerfect, and I try to be on point even more when I am pulled to the telemetry floor. I think the key is to just help out each other whenever you get a breather. Nobody dislikes a person who helps out others. It is ashame that our tele floor staff is divided into cliques which damages morale but as a visitor I just try to make the most of my 12 hour shift and spread the love:) Anything is possible with any group with a positive attitude. Thanks again for a great article Murse Dent.

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ A NJ Murse You are welcome.

  5. Erin BSN RN

    Thanks Sean! I’m a new nurse and in my 11month of nursing and 3rd week of acute care/ general medicine. I am in over my head and keep getting told that more things are my responsibility. But then also told to delegate more. Between meds, assessments, changing patient conditions, palliative patients and families, I’m not sure what the very first thing I should do is. My team is the only way I get through it all. If ICU nurses and nurse assistants did not come to my rescue, I don’t think this ship would stay afloat. Thanks for your perspective!

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @ Erin Glad you enjoyed it. Hang in there, sounds like quite the environment!