Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In Which Jo Responds To Panicked Emails

I am not shutting Head Nurse down. 

All I'm doing--honest!--is switching departments inside Sunnydale General, so I'll be an ICU nurse rather than an acute care neuro nurse. My job will still be about 70% neuro, so you'll still get stories about people with big holes in their heads. You'll get those stories as the people are a little closer to the OR, but you'll get 'em.

So why the hell did I decide to switch gears seven years in? 

Easy answer, and the one I gave the interviewers at Sunnydale: I got bored. There's a lot of truth to that, actually; after seven years in one place, doing pretty much the same thing every day, I started to want something a little more complex and a little deeper. With ICU nursing, you learn a whole lot about five or six systems per patient. With acute care, your concerns are primarily with one system, and your knowledge of each patient is broader and shallower.

I was getting itchy, and getting bitchy as a result. 

One of the ICU nurses told me that she wished she'd made the switch from acute to critical care years before she did, that this was the most interesting, fulfilling job she'd ever done. I hope that's what it turns out to be like for me.

The other reason I'm switching is the management of the acute care floors. I've gotten tired of being everybody's spokesperson when they're unhappy, simply by virtue of my big mouth and relative skill with the language. The emphasis on "customer service" rather than "nursing care" was getting to me, as were some of the specific actions of the management on the acute care units. I decided it was better to leave than to have a heart attack...and no, I didn't tell the interviewers that.

I am going to miss the education aspect of the job. That's my big strength: translating medicalese into English in a non-threatening, understandable way. You don't get to do a whole lot of that with the patient when the patient is intubated, but I look forward to working with patients' families.

You'll still get your crazy patient stories. You'll get other stories, too: about what it's like to be a New Nurse with seven years of experience, about the differences in relationships with doctors between ICU and acute care, about my ginormous fuckups early on and later in. I'm not going anywhere.

It's going to be a slow summer, but one hell of a ride come October. Who's up for it with me?


Susan said...

I'm definitely up for the ride! As a new nurse three weeks into orientation, I'm excited to see what it's like to be "new" despite being seasoned.

I too am not a fan of the "customer service" idea. The state came in today to take a look around, and their biggest concern was with the bed linens, since we had some rooms with sheets just sitting in them...because the patients in those rooms soiled them often so the nurse just put a couple extra in their for her shift. It's not worth it to have to run and get a new bed pad every time the patient needs a new one. With one aide for 26 patients (two was considered "overstaffed"), we all help out the best we can.

Sorry, that was my rant for the day!

Rockenheimer said...

I'm up with you, Head Nurse Person! Do it for Johnny, do it for Johnny! Long may you run!

Laura said...

I recently found this blog and really enjoy it! I'm a surgical tech with 20 years experience and am looking forward to reading about your experiences with the surgical patients.

I'm also fed up to *here* with the customer service b.s! We're not Walmart; we deal with patients and doctors and I refuse to call them customers!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jo-

Now is your chance to put into practice the new motto of our institution: "We Are One."


Looking forward to your transition. From one ICU sister to another-
The Pig Lady

geena said...

Welcome to the world of ICU.

You're going to feel like a new nurse all over again.

Can't wait to hear all about it! Good luck and enjoy!

woolywoman said...

Actually, you will see that you get to do a lot of education, only it is to the family. I start every encounter with, "well, this tube does this and this one does that and thats what we call it and here's why we care" You have to do it in slow bits, but it's really important.

Unknown said...

You go girl! Good luck scratching that ICU itch. It's one hellofa ride!

Unknown said...

I just transferred to CICU from a medical floor. WOW! I've gone from having 8 patients to 2 patients. I've gone from MDs hanging up on me to MDs calling me by my first name and asking about my daughter. ICU for me is like a whole new world. I look forward to your ICU stories!

Thanks Tina RN @ www.thenurse2goto.com