Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Q&A: All About Nursing {the job, not the other}

What do you do

I have my bachelors in nursing and practice as a Registered Nurse in a 48 bed critical care unit {not including trauma or cardiac ICU, total is somewhere over 100}. My role entails just about everything under the sun and the moon. I have seen a lot. For the person that asked if I see gruesome stuff? Sure. To me though? It is no longer gruesome. It is just the norm.

I take care of patients on the ventilator {life support}. Young {as young as 18}, old {as old as 100}. Some nights are predictable and just me going with the flow. Many nights are a huge question mark. In other words, no idea {but can most of the time guess} whats to come.

 I have taken care of 3 donor patients. What does this mean? These are patients that are kept on life support, although they are prounced brain dead, and their families have chosen to go through the donor process. It isn't an easy one folks, and I do not wish this sort of decision upon anyone. But I have to say, it is amazing to see the results and the amazing work of organ donation. All 3 of my cases were teenagers. All 3 were due to drug overdoses. All 3 were very unfortunate and sad to be a part of. One of those cases I was able to follow to OR and actually see the organ procurement process. That was quite the experience.

Adrenaline rush is one of the best ways to describe the ICU. When time is of the essence, it is guys OF THE ESSENCE.

What is your work schedule like

I work full time, 3 nights a week, Monday-Sunday. We work every third weekend {Friday, Saturday}. I never do 3 in a row {because I stay home with the kiddos}, so normally I work one, off two, then work two.

What is the hardest part of the job

The family members. You know, I see death all the time. We bag bodies more than I care to tell you. But the family members? The wives that fall to the ground when they hear their husband of 30 years just passed? The daughter who was supposed to be walked down the aisle in 2 days by her daddy that she just had to say goodbye to? The mother who lays in bed with her teenage son as she says her last goodbyes? Oh that gets me every time. I don't cry when my patients pass {except one}, but I tear up EVERY TIME a family member does.

The young cases. Those always affect me on a bigger scale.

The ones that were supposed to get better. The ones you were rooting for. The ones that you never expected to take a turn for the worst. Those are hard.

It's all hard. All of it. The emotions are just plain hard. And I immediately put myself there. What if that was my family member. And everyone has a story. So yeah, it is hard.

Do you think about your patients when you go home

You know, besides the one I will always remember {I will write about this in another post}, I don't {I try not to|. I don't know if its because I have been doing this for years, have seen the saddest of the sad, the ugliest of the ugly, and the disbelief that I have been faced with.... but I just leave it all at work. I think if we think about it too much and let things affect us on a personal level, then it would cause problems in our lives. I can't live that way.

Do you think you will do bedside forever?

Eh, no. I used to say that I would do only 5 years {hello 5 year anniversary next year}, however, I can definitely say that it is in my longterm future. Simply because it works for our family. Our schedule. Our life. I cannot imagine having to work 9-5 day shift. So for now, yes, I think for the next 10-15 years, I'm there.

Will you go back to school?

You know, I used to say yes for sure. I've always been a driven individual and seeking the higher and the more educated. Now it is hard for me to say. Like I mentioned above, this is just what works for our schedule now. Going back to get my NP or doctrine sure sounds nice, title and all, but would it be ideal for our every day? Probably not. So at this point, it isn't in my near future. I'm not sure for later though. Maybe.

Best advice to those in school?

Don't give up. Don't listen to all the negativity and grinches out there. Nursing is kind of like motherhood. You will hear all the horror stories, and all the complaints, but believe me... there are just as many {and more} rewards from it.

I promise.

Where do I see myself when I am 50?

Teaching at a large university. Maybe even Purdue. like to talk. So. It would be fitting for me.


  1. So glad you wrote this! I have always wanted to hear about your story with nursing, since I am in nursing school now. I must say, it really is SO hard to do the schooling, the studying, you know, all of it. Some days I just don't know if I can keep up with it, if it was the right choice-but then I have my clinical shift and it makes me remember why I wanted to do it in the first place! I am hoping one day it will all pay off, that I will be an educated nurse that can make a difference, do what I always wanted to do, and at the end of the day, make a living. I would love to hear more posts about nursing!

    Kelsey @ Beauty without Limits

  2. Yup! I can totally relate to you descriptions! A day at work can consist of a mix of every emotion under the rainbow! And still leave exhausted and feeling like you made a difference. Even if it was crying with those donor family members. Well said lady! <3 Fellow ICU nurse :)

  3. Yup! I can totally relate to you descriptions! A day at work can consist of a mix of every emotion under the rainbow! And still leave exhausted and feeling like you made a difference. Even if it was crying with those donor family members. Well said lady! <3 Fellow ICU nurse :)

  4. I'm right there with you-- full time mom of two & work 3 nights as an RN. It works well for us & I am so thankful to be able to juggle both.

  5. Me too...mom of two and full-time RN working 3 nights a week. It's truly the second hardest job, only to motherhood, that is also so incredibly rewarding!

  6. you amaze me and thank you for writing this post! I am currently in school trying to get into the program(will find out in May) and sometimes I question why I am doing all this work and then I think about it and I can't think of anything else I would want to do. Can't wait till you write that post about your particular patient.

  7. I am a CNA at a rehab center in Boston. People think that just because I work in a 30 bed rehab center that I dont see my fair share of amazing and heartbreaking things. I have had to call a code before (just last week a patient blacked out on me) and I have seen people pass away. I also see amazing miracles happen (like watching a bilateral BKA Pt walk around the nurses station. That is really cool!). Like you I try not to think about my patients at home. What happens at work stays at work. But there are those patients that I think about a lot. Not many of them but there are some. I am going to nursing school next year (graduating high school this year!) and I can't wait. I am so excited to start my career. I absolutely LOVE this post because it really shows me that I want to do this kind of work so badly! Thank you for this post. I can't wait to hear about that one Pt.

  8. Nice to hear your background. My mom was an ICU nurse her entire career and my best friend is a new nurse in telemetry getting critical care overflow. She's a brand new nurse working nights and is having a difficult time. She's lost way more patients than "average" not to her fault of course. I'm sad to hear she doesn't enjoy it more. Any advice? Do you just get used to it? It's a hard job!

  9. I have yet to work with a donor patient. One day I may want to transition into ICU. It really is a rush!

  10. I'm a fellow night shift ICU RN, I couldn't have described nursing better than that! I'm also a night shifter and soon to be mommy and hoping that my schedule works as well for me as it does for you. Thanks for posting this. :)


 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye