I took a little break from blogging over the weekend. I feel like I need to get this thing under control. Most people have a theme to their blog – fashion, food, parenting, etc. Me? I just babble. And I’m kind of okay with that, but I never really put much thought into my posts. I just start typing and see what happens (as I’m going to do today). But anyway, bear with me and we’ll try to figure something out, okay?
For today’s post, I’m going to talk about what a typical night at work is like for me. Some things may or may not be exaggerated.
((Background information – I’ve been a nurse for 3 1/2 years. I work 7p-7am on a renal medical/surgical telemetry floor. Meaning most of my patients have kidney disease, are on dialysis, need to have a heart monitor, may have had surgery recently, or have some random ailment that doesn’t qualify them to be placed on any other floor. We basically have the melting pot of patient diagnoses.))
6:50 – 7:00 pm
Arrive to work and get my assignment – varies from 4-6 patients. While attempting to look up info on my patients (diagnosis, medical history, labs, meds, etc), another nurse arrives and complains about her assignment and wants it changed. So then we all shuffle patients around and the assignments get changed, and now I have to look up info on new patients.
7:oo – 7:45 pm
Time to start report, but can’t find the nurse who had my patients. I usually have to get report from 2 different nurses. One of them forgets why the person is here. Another forgot to give them their suppertime meds, “you don’t mind giving the pills, do you? I switched them to your time.” And also, “Oh he’s really, really confused, so I couldn’t do his admission history. His daughter was here all day though, so he didn’t try to get out of bed.” (Really? Why didn’t you do the admission history then? Or call the admission nurse?)
7:45 – 9:00 pm
After introducing myself to all my patients (and hearing, “Oh honey, you don’t look a day over 16! Are you sure you’re a nurse?” at least once), I begin my assessments. Usually at some point during this time, I get called on my (annoying) work phone no less than 5 times to either fix telemetry leads, talk to a lab tech, radiology tech, pharmacist, family member, etc, give pain meds, help someone to the bathroom, etc, etc. And also during these assessments, I hear things such as, “Yeah, I’m coughing a lot, look at this green stuff I saved in this tissue.”,” Oh, my poop looks funny, I saved it in the toilet for you to look at.”, “Can you scratch my butt for me? I can’t reach.”, “I picked at this scab on my arm and it’s bleeding.”, “Do you know if I’m taking a pill that starts with a M or D and I don’t remember what it’s for?”.. and so on.
9:00 – 10:30 pm
Time to give out medications! None of which are available from pharmacy, even though they’re routine medications that the patient has been on for DAYS. Wait at least 30 minutes for each pill I request. Out of the 4-6 patients I have to give meds to – one will deny ever hearing of any of their pills, one will refuse “that little white pill because I definitely don’t take little white pills at home”, one will ask for a sleeping pill that they don’t have ordered, one will ask for a laxative… Oh, and also, the person admitted with uncontrolled hypertension – will have a blood pressure of 220/112 without PRN’s available. Time to call the doctor!
10:30 pm – 1:00 am
Attempt to chart my assessments. Receive an admission and get report from the ED nurse who knows absolutely nothing the patient. Tells me their IV is in their right wrist when it’s in their left forearm. Tells me they’re alert and oriented, comes up to the floor speaking to “that cat sitting on top of that IV pole.” Tells me, “Oh yeah, their vitals have been fine,” comes up to the floor with HR in the 130’s and temp 102. Time to call the doctor.
1:00 – 1:30 am
Lunch time! Watch tv in the break room, guzzle my 32 oz of super sweet iced tea, eat whatever random food I have that night. Oh, and also receive about 5 calls from the secretary and/or monitor tech about telemetry, pain meds, potty breaks, etc. Have they forgotten I’m on my lunch break?! Oh, and did I mention we have these handy, dandy locators that tell everyone where we are at all times? They can always find you.
2:00 – 5:00 am
Finish charting. Answer call bells. Read over the charts. Look at labs. Give pain meds, breathing treatments, or other random PRN’s. Patient #4 wakes up at 3am requesting a nicotine patch, call the doctor again. Patient #3 with HR sustaining in the 40’s, call the doctor again. Wait 45 minutes for doctor to return page. Patient #1 requests a sleeping pill at 4:50am, don’t think so! Wait, what? Patient #2 has a history of VRE?! Oh man, they haven’t been on isolation this whole time! Time to get out the bleach wipes and scrub my body. Patient #6 decides to pee in the garbage can because they couldn’t find the urinal sitting on their bedside table.
5:00 – 7:00 am
Send one or two patients to dialysis. Give out early morning meds. Patient #4 pulls out IV while attempting to put on a hoodie over their hospital gown. Blood everywhere. Too bad that doctor only ordered a one time dose of Hydralazine (instead of a PRN), because the hypertensive patient is now 234/128, time to call the doctor! Receive phone call from lab, patient #2 with potassium level 2.3. Guess I’ll page that doctor again. Doctor never calls back because it’s almost shift change. Oh, and apparently patient #3 has thrown up everywhere because that little white pill that she never takes? Yeah, it was her Reglan. ((Please oh please, let day shift get here soon!))
7:00 – 7:30 am
Thank goodness, day shift is here and ready to get report. Except they need to drink their coffee and eat their oatmeal first. “I don’t know why night shift is in such a hurry, they don’t do anything during the night anyway. All the patients do is sleep.” “What do you mean you didn’t restart that IV? Now I have to do it.”
FINALLY take a bathroom break. Phewww, I’ve been holding that pee in for 12 hours!!
And there you have it. Okay, so maybe that all didn’t happen in one night. But yes, every single one of those things has happened to me at some point. Most likely within the last week.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my job. I love my patients (and the majority of them are seriously awesome). I love my night shift coworkers more than anything. I truly enjoy what I do. And I like to think I’m pretty darn good at it. But what bothers me are the people who think – “well, I guess I’ll major in nursing because I don’t know what else to do.” NURSING IS NOT EASY. You need to be passionate about caring for people and passionate about what you do, because nursing is certainly not for everyone. NIGHT SHIFT IS NOT EASY. Contrary to popular belief, patients do not sleep during the night. They’re bored and lonely and the hospital beds are not comfortable, so they ring their call bell all the time. They ask for random things.. because they’re BORED.
Maybe someday I’ll make a What It’s Like To Be A Nurse Part 2 with all the super awesome stuff!
Any other night shift nurses agree with this summary? Feel free to voice your opinions 🙂