June, 2009 Archive

June 5, 2009, 9:50 am

HawthoRNe – You GO Girl!

hawthorne-s1-smithLooks like there is something for everyone this television season.

If you like your media RNs drug-addicted and sex-crazed, there is a show for you over at Showtime.

If you prefer to view nursing in a different light, you may want to check out HawthoRNe on TNT.

Jada Pinkett Smith plays a chief nursing officer at the fictional Richmond Trinity Hospital.

She’s smart, tough, caring, takes on the medical establishment, stands up for her staff and fights for the underdog.

And, uh, she does patient care.

Say what?


In all my decades, I have never known a Chief Nursing Officer to don scrubs and do patient care.

And Christina Hawthorne does it all!



Am I going to watch?



HawthoRNe has personal problems that don’t include drugs or sex.¬† She is widowed, single mother and her teenage daughter is a pain in the ass.¬† She, like her Showtime counterpart, is a strong woman who isn’t afraid to break the rules.

And as so many commenters pointed out in the great discussion following my “Nurse Jackie” post, no television show is going to be perfect in its portrayal of any profession (my hubby used to rail at “LA Law” every week!).

So, you can call me naive, an idiot, a pollyanna, out-of-touch, crazy or whatever name you like…

I’m taking the more idealistic portrayal of nursing offered by “HawthoRNe”.

Let’s see what TNT can do with the drama that surrounds the nursing profession.

And kudos to Pinkett Smith for bringing it on (she’s the executive-producer).

P.S. Now, what are the chances of getting Will Smith on one of the episodes ( you knew I was going there, didn’t you)?…

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June 2, 2009, 8:20 am

Sweeping Away the Ashes

kendallpreschoolMeet my son, Kendall.

As far back as I can remember, he was always graduating/accomplishing something.

At the age of seven, he announced his candidacy for the office of President of the United States.

As a Democrat, no less.

us-at-graduationThis photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago at Notre Dame following the law school graduation.

The transformation from the first photo to this photo seemed to occur overnight. Hug your babies, folks, because they grow-up faster than you can ever imagine.

We managed to get 4/5 of the family together that weekend. That’s me, Kendall, hubby John and daughter Lillian.

Next graduation: me in 2010 with a BSN, followed by daughter Rebecca in 2012 with her BSN. Yep, I am living with the future of the nursing profession.

Let’s hope she keeps her unit cleaner than her room.


You walk into the unit, put down your backpack, fill your pocket with pen, scissors, and tape, sling the stethoscope over your neck, swipe your namebadge into the infernal timeclock and enter stage right.

It’s showtime!

Get the triage, hook up the monitor, grab the EKG, slam in the saline lock – grab the bloods in the process, hang a liter of normal saline, put up the side rails, hook the call bell to the side rail, throw on a warm blanket, medicate for fever and slam the chart in the “to-be-seen” rack.

Repeat x 30 over the next eight hours.

Feel like burnt toast, look like burnt toast, act like burnt toast.


Where’s the patient?

You know, the person you just triaged, hooked, slammed, hydrated, side-railed, blanketed, medicated and lined up for evaluation?


Did it ever occur to you that the reason you feel like burnt toast is because you are so focused on what you are doing you have lost sight of the “who” you are doing it to?


Well, it occurred to me.

Because that is exactly what had happened.

Oh, my physical care was fine.

But I had stopped looking patients in the eye. I was spitting out standard responses instead of listening to what my patients were saying. I was expending the bare minimum of energy required to complete tasks.

I was doing; I wasn’t caring.

And I was burnt.


But I discovered something.

And this is huge.

I was not focusing on tasks because I had burned out, I burned out because I had started focusing on tasks.

Let’s face it. The ER, while seemingly exciting to those outside the ambulance doors, can actually feel redundant to those of us who deal with the same issues every day. The same complaints. The same symptoms. Over and over and over.

So, what makes each case interesting? What makes each case unique?

The patient behind the story. The person under the symptoms.

Lose sight of the person and you lose sight of the profession. Lose sight of their humanity and you lose sight of your own. Lose sight of your own and you become a burnt shell.


You would think that after three decades of this, I’d have figured this out by now.

I guess you never stop learning.

This time, my teachers were an elderly man with a DVT who talked to me about his time on the LAPD, back in the day.

And the young woman who described, quite vividly, how it felt to go from the pinnacle of health to the devastation of a cancer diagnosis, overnight.

Or the 18-month old who tucked their head under my chin and fell asleep as Mom described  the terror of witnessing a first-time febrile seizure.


Who would have guessed that sometimes patients are the cure for burn out and not the cause of burn out.

The patients didn’t change, they were always willing to talk.

All I had to do was stop and listen.

That simple.

Go figure.

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6:00 am

Breathing is Underrated (I’m Back!)

coffeefiltercapUh, Mildred?

Mr. Coffee called and they want their filter back!


Could have used Nurse Latte-Head this week.

Breakfast in bed, a pretty new bed jacket.

(Remember “bed jackets”? Do they still make those?)

The good news is that I can now breath without Herculean effort.

The bad news?

I can’t smell anything and I can’t taste a thing. My taste buds are gone, kaput, buh-bye.

Makes it very easy to diet.

Actually, we utilized my lack of taste-sensory organs to conduct a scientific experiment at work.

I am well known for my inability to tolerate spicy food. Makes me nauseated and diaphoretic. My esteemed colleague, Stand-Up Comedy Dude, wondered how a lack of taste would affect one’s ability to eat hot, or spicy, food.

Never one to turn down an opportunity to utilize myself as a guinea pig, I promptly threw down a packet of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes on a saltine.


My mouth got warm and my sinuses cleared slightly.

Rather anti-climactic, actually.

On the one hand I could handle any combination of body fluids for the rest of the shift with no olfactory assault, but on the other hand I couldn’t lean over a patient too closely or I’d be guilty of causing an olfactory assault (and singe their eyebrows in the process!).


Now that school is out (insert it’s-my-blog-bragging-rights-here: 4.0 for the semester, whoo hooo!) and I’m at a loss for what to do with all this…how do you call it…free time, I intend to plop my rear-end at a Starbucks at every opportunity and indulge my blog addiction with a newly rediscovered fervor.

And I’ll start with this week’s Grand Rounds, up at David’s Health Blawg.

Don’t forget to send your submissions to the next Change of Shift to Barbara over at Florence dot com (email: blynnolson at gmail dot com)!

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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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