Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Am I old yet?

A coworker of mine reminded me recently that 2012 will mark my tenth year at Sunnydale General (Healthcare for the Hellmouth). Reader's Digest called me a "long-time" nurse. Doctors refer to me as "experienced."

So am I an Old Nurse?

I would argue not, and this is why: Old Nurses are people who still know how to work stuff you only heard about in nursing school, and who remember techniques and tricks (and are willing to teach them to you!) that you've never even considered.

Take Wendy, one of the nurses I work with. She's not an old nurse, having been a nurse for only slightly longer than I have--but she's an Old Nurse. She can count drip rates and work them out to milliliters per hour, having worked in rural hospitals. She can make a mean hot pack. She knows how to access the really bizarre permanent catheters that we sometimes see. She doesn't remember the days when pneumocephalus was induced as a diagnostic tool, but she's done stuff--like reducing dislocated shoulders--that I've only read about. In fiction.

On the opposite side of the coin, I was a New Nurse with eight years' experience under my belt when I went to the CCU. No matter how good you are at one thing, if you move to another, you're automatically a novice. That's not a particularly comfortable role to inhabit, but it does do wonders for an overblown ego and a sense of entitlement. At the same time you're being humbled, however, you're being encouraged to ask "Why?" (That is, if you don't work in a bad environment.) "Why?" is one of the most important questions we can ask on a daily basis; it's the only one that leads to changes and improvements in care.

So, no, I'm not an Old Nurse. Not yet. At this rate, I may never *be* an Old Nurse. Although, I will say--my willingness to get post-op patients up out of bed without waiting for physical therapy has gotten shocked, admiring reactions from CCU nurses.

If I ever do get to Old Nurse status, I want to be asking "Why?" still. Those are the best sort of Old Nurses to have around.

17 comments:

Thatgirl said...

Sounds more like Wendy is an old-school nurse rather than an old nurse.

bobbie said...

I'm an 'old nurse' (33+years) who has never stopped learning...

messymimi said...

You are a great nurse, which is most important.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and that is all I need to say.

mfaires said...

I recently found your blog and have to say that it sounds more like you're on the experienced side of things rather than old. That's good, though. It takes new ones and seasoned ones, especially in ICU. I'm an Occupational Therapist with 14 years under my belt and I currently work in CVICU and the transplant ICU (we do hearts and lungs). I have only been doing ICU for two years and I've learned more about medicine, nursing, and the human condition than all of the previous twelve put together and it's because of nurses like you.

woolywoman said...

learn how to use the paddles on the defibrillator, and you will bypass a lot of trouble with poorly stocked carts.

~Shell said...

Amen!

Kraszy Nurse said...

I am also a new reader. New to ICU as well. LOVE IT though, and LOVE your blog! I was an Ortho nurse previously, and have gotten the same reactions from other nurses when getting patients out of bed. :)

Eclectic Bohemian said...

One of the reasons I love this profession! Such diversity and you NEVER learn it all.

Urbie said...

In the same vein, my Dad would have been considered an Old Chemist -- because he knew how to blow glass! Not that (as far as I know) he ever had to make his own glass apparatus on the job -- but back when he went to school, they made sure you knew how!

darev2005 said...

If you want to keep going onward, you never stop asking "Why?". Those who don't just stagnate. Keep going!

RehabRN said...

Loved the getting out of bed part. I'm a rehab nurse, it's my job to get you out of bed...and make sure you don't kill yourself doing it.

Even if you don't walk, if the docs say there's no reason not to, I'm gonna get your happy self out of bed.

Sometimes, it's interesting the techniques I have to use (big screen TVs, subterfuge, cookies, etc.) but I have to try nonetheless.

I hope I grow up to be an "old" nurse one day. (I'm still a nursing baby at 5...)

Middle-aged Diva (Carol) said...

If I'm ever hospitalized, I want you to be MY nurse, Old Nurse or not. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog. I am more on the experienced side but still ask "why?" all the time. Your descriptions of the ICU make me smile and laugh, keep up the good work. Tele RN from OH

Linda Carole Bloom said...

Well, I am the oldest on my unit (18 years) and remember when we had a "lift team" who got everyone OOB in the am, and and an IV team. But when I was a new nurse I worked with an old nurse who know stuff about red rubber catheters and milk and molasses enemas (high, hot, hell of a lot). I thought she was crazy, now . . . not so much. Have a quiet shift, Love, Linda

Rosanna said...

Growing up, I often consciously WORRIED to myself, "Please, *P.L.E.A.S.E.* don't let me, too, become............ uncompromisingly rigid............ unfairly judgmental............ very close-minded to the facts/truth of situations............ not open to 'The New' in life............ and/or unwilling to even ask 'Why?' about things." Subsequently, I was very careful and (honestly) tried hard every day; and those who REALLY know me personally and/or professionally............ say that I d.i.d.n.'t. ~ do; and h.a.v.e.n.'t. ~ done those things, (i.e., in or out of the workplace). Now, ironically, AFTER my very gratifying/fulfilling 35-year Staff RN gig, (i.e., Med-Surg Nursing; USAF Nurse Corps Nursing; Geriatric Nursing in a SNF; College Health Nursing), I STILL, at age 61............ sometimes worry, though, that I just *M.I.G.H.T. NOT* forever-value The Freedom To Find~~~And My (not quite!!) Addiction To~~~The Facts And The Truth............ i.e., asking that IMPORTANT question "Why?" (How's that for pseudo-mature, really *stellar* self-confidence??!! Haha!!)

So, I think the mere fact that you now genuinely *W.A.N.T.* to still be asking "Why?"............ (i.e., when you get TO Old Nurse status)............ *insures*, Jo, that you WILL BE one of the B.E.S.T. sort of Old Nurses to have around, you know!! (And IF I were a bettin' man, I'm absolutely *P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E.* I'd be puttin'-down some $$money on this future wager about you, too!! So there, haha!!)

Anonymous said...

That is awesome. I love your blogs lol. You sound like a humble and kickass fun person who still has a thirst for education. Thanks for making these blogs turn into a happier day.