Tuning in to the noise

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I finally got a chance to catch up on some blog-reading and came across this one by fellow Scrubs blogger Rebekah Child about nurses responding to the ping of the smart phone rather than the beep of the IV pole. Check it out here. I have to say I totally agree.
As a student working one or two days a week on the floor for only 8 hours at a time, we’re usually super attentive to beeping machines. We want a chance to learn and use IV pumps, flush a line and hang a new bag. Feeding pumps, IV pumps, cardiac monitors, we learn to tune in for those few hours to catch what we need to hear.  Once I started working and was on the floor for 12 hours more than just once a week, I started tuning out.

Between the running around on the floor, the getting up and down, crying babies, families talking, nurses in the nurses station, phones, call lights, and all the other noise makers out there (yes, including musical toys!), we tend to tune out a lot more quickly. And we’re to blame, but we’re not, all at the same time. Our ears can only take so much. The population of children with hearing loss in increasing because of ear bud head phones – our ears can only take so much. So take every time you’ve ever listened to headphones on full blast, or drove home with the windows down and the radio blasting. If you’ve every been to a concert or a wedding and come home with your ears ringing and you can still hear the songs playing over and over while you try to sleep, you’re ears have been tested. It’s a part of life, but we’ve subjected our tympanic membranes to a lot, and now we’re working in a unit full of sound.

Just like Rebekah said, we’ve got to tune it to our job. We’re all guilty of ignoring a machine if we know it’s acting up. For us, we have pulse ox machines and probes that don’t want to stay taped to little baby feet that like to wiggle around. The machines beep every time the baby kicks too hard and the probe slips. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go check it. What if the one time I didn’t was the one time it didn’t sleep and the baby was de-satting. I don’t want to be responsible for that. I have to listen to the sounds. We all do. It’s easy to tune out, it really is, but we have to retrain ourselves to it. Focus on what you’re doing, but keep one ear turned to the rest of the unit; what do you hear?

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