There is no set day for a nurse. Every day brings a new challenge, even if you’re working in an environment where the patients are the same and they have established a routine of some sort. My job at the moment is one that every nurse will inevitably come across. The ‘special’.
This is a one on one care situation where, either due to the patients acuity, or behaviours -acute or chronic- the patient needs individualized, or concentrated care. Having done more than one in more than one work place, I feel confident in saying this is simultaneously the easiest and hardest shift to do. On one hand, you don’t have to chase buzzers. The only patient you need to be worried about is right in front of you, you can identify and tend to any problems that arise almost immediately. You won’t have feet that you want to chew off at the ankles because they feel swollen, hot and so very tired. Your notes will be impeccable! I’ve adopted the habit of documenting what happens, as it happens, easy to do for the “reporter on the scene”.
That said, you have ONE patient. You’re confined in one room with ONE patient, remember, a patient isn’t specialled unless they really need it. That means if your patients health takes a poor turn, the buck stops with you! You need to be acutely aware of everything going on with that one person, you become an expert on what goes in, what comes out and what’s going on inside. There’s nowhere to hide, no excuse for poor charting, or missed care. That’s literally the only thing you have to do.
You also are directly in the line of fire for patients that might have to be specialed due to the risk of harming self or others. There’s a lot of coverage at the moment over people showing respect for nurses, but what they don’t explain is that this is for people with a full grasp on their faculties. We’re taking care of people who don’t. In the last week, I’ve been spat at, hit, hair yanked, screamed at etc. by a beautiful person who honestly has no other way of coping with the sudden change of their environment, and the pain that is affecting their whole body. It’s scary enough being in hospital, imagine being in a new, scary place, with people you don’t know, ordering tests around you while you struggle to grasp what’s happening.
I genuinely love every bit of my job. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be doing it. I love being that person that a patient can (I hope) rely on to have their best interest at heart. Whether that’s for 16, 5, 4 patients, or just one. It’s easy, but also, tiring. If I have to listen on ABBA on repeat for eight hours, and colour cartoons in to keep my patient happy and distracted, I will. I’ll bring my book, bring my crochet, and a double helping of patient-happy-caffinated-nurse every time I’m asked to step up.