October, 2005 Archive

October 4, 2005, 3:33 am

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This gem of a shot is by photographer Ewing Galloway.

This is exactly how I felt at work tonight. I had exactly four patients. Four. One was a 1:1 for 3.5 hours. Every one of them had the “short of breath = rectal sphincter discharge” syndrome. I haven’t changed that many diapers since my 15-year-old was born. Someone snuck a puppy into the ER and he sniffed me once and growled.
I swear the olfactory ambiance of my room had permeated my clothing. I suspected my co-workers were avoiding the geographical area of my assignment, but it’s pretty bad when a dog withdraws from you.

I’m pretty even-tempered but I daresay I was a bit snappy tonight (at the desk, never in front of my patients). So it is ironic that this photo describes me because when I first saw it I immediately thought of a cranky doctor! Actually, I thought of many cranky doctors. Then I realized that I had witnessed a trend over the years; a decrease in the number and intensity of cranky doctors. Why?

Here are a few factors that have contributed:

  • Doctors and nurses have a more collegial relationship now. “ME-DOCTOR-you-nurse” is no longer the predominant attitude of either profession. This is likely due to:
    • More women in medicine and more men in nursing. The old male/female paradigm has changed.
    • The increased responsibilities nurses have in patient care. (Nursing: it’s not just pill-passing anymore, folks!)
    • The need to do more with less; doctors have to increasingly depend on nurses to be their eyes and ears at the bedside.
  • The youth of the medical workforce. They’ve never known nurses any other way (see above). And it is just me, or are the doctors getting younger every day? When you are old enough to be the mother of a doctor you work with….well, it’s very strange!
  • The aging of the nursing workforce. A nurse who has been in the trenches for 30 years is not likely to put up with an attitude from anybody, including doctors (of any age).
  • A mutual understanding that we are all working under the same health care system and that the frustrations that arise are due to the system, not each other.

On a personal level, I have developed an increasing amazement for what doctors have to accomplish to get to where they are. And you know what’s funny? Space is at a premium in my department so I’ll give a doctor who needs to chart my seat at the nursing station. Not because I have to, but out of civility and respect.

Cherry Ames would be proud.

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October 3, 2005, 1:23 am

Gratuitous Journey

What on earth does this picture have to do with emergency nursing, you ask? Well, one of these people happens to be yours truly. The other one is Jonathan Cain of Journey. The nursing profession may have my soul, but rock and roll has my gut and my heart belongs to Journey. At the moment I am hearing impaired, barely able to talk due to laryngitis and so sore I can hardly change positions. Such are the health risks of dancing and singing for three hours in fourth-row-center seats at a Journey concert.

Now, having posted this gratuitous photo and revealed my private life as a secret rock groupie, I now return you to my regularly scheduled blog.

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October 1, 2005, 9:25 pm

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

…….Let us bow our heads in a moment of respectful silence for the football team of Purdue University, Indiana, who got their gluteus maximi KICKED by the Fighing Irish of Notre Dame!!!! Whooo hoooo! Apparently Purdue gave a football game and the team forgot to show up (figuratively speaking). NOTRE DAME ROCKS!!!!
(silence)
To those who are students or alumni of Purdue, my sympathies. Go Irish……

You can be a Trained Nurse. As opposed to what, an untrained nurse? This reminds me of something one of my nursing instructors said to me during my very first quarter of nursing school. Claudia was the epitome of the tall, cool professional. I secretly wanted to be just like her when I grew up (and I mean “grew up”…I was 18). My partner and I had managed to make a hospital bed within the required five minutes during our first skills lab and I joked, “….another exciting development in medical science”. She immediately informed me that it was nursing science, separate and distinct from medicine. So I said, “…okay, another exciting development for nurses’ training!” At which point she intoned that dogs are trained, nurses are educated. Well, I felt like an idiot but I never forgot what she said.

This came back to me recently as I listened to a group of my colleagues try to talk a pre-med student into nursing instead of medicine. They brought up many arguments. Nursing school could take as few as two or three years instead of eight (including residency). Nurses can work part-time with benefits. The pay is good. You can work in many different areas during your career as opposed to specializing in just one. Okay, all of those things are true…but then they said that nursing was easier; why go through all the bull of medical school when nursing was so….doable? After I picked my jaw up off the desk, I had to open my mouth.

I told the student that becoming a nurse was only the right thing to do if she wanted to practice nursing. Yes, they are related, but medicine and nursing are not the same profession. Nursing isn’t something you do if you don’t feel like going to medical school. I asked her what she wanted to study. Did she want to focus on the diagnosing and treatment of illness? Did she want to care for patients, assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating their responses to their treatment, both physical and emotionally on a daily basis? Doctors see their patients sporadically. Nurses spend up to twelve hours at a time with those same patients. Doctors set up the medical plan of care. Nurses set up a nursing care plan that supports and enhances the patient’s ability to heal, that recognizes and helps the patient cope with the impact of the diagnosis in all areas of their life.

Well, that sort of threw a bucket of water on the conversation, but I thought I should say something. I’m all for recruiting nurses, but not by promoting it as a second-choice to medical school. Nursing is its own discipline.

Gee, I guess I grew up to be a little like Claudia, after all.

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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