Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Own Your Life Nurses!

I recently shared on a nurse forum about how frustrated I was about a patient scenario that had occurred at my work. It's a long story but the gist of it is that my 74-year-old female patient admitted for a small bowel obstruction was in desperate need of an NG (nasogastric) tube. I knew it the first moment I laid eyes on her due to her extremely distended abdomen and the green (nauseated) look on her face when I first made rounds in the morning.

However, before I could insert her NG tube, I had to:
1. First see ALL of my patients and medicate them (hunting down meds from the pharmacy in the process).
2. Field several phone calls from doctors, family members and pharmacy.
3. Medicate several patients for pain who had previously denied any pain.
4. Hunt down all the NG tube parts and pieces to hang the wall suction.
5. Orient, educate and monitor the student nurse that I had assigned to me for the day (always a pleasure. I love working with students!)
6. Hang a unit of blood on one of my patients per urgent orders
7. Discharge a patient who could NOT be postponed because their ride had to get to work

Needless to say, when I finally inserted the NG tube, it immediately gave 2000 ml of green, foul smelling liquid output. What a relief to her. What a relief to me.

But the thing that bothered me the most is that there had been an order on the chart FOR TWO DAYS to insert an NG tube in this lady if she continued to have nausea and vomiting. However, all of the previous nurses had kept her nausea at bay by medicating her (each time apparently ignoring her physical assessment). She suffered for two days!

Do You Want To Stop Playing The Game?

Question for you nurses: Do you have dreams of owning your own life? Do your dreams of owning your own life include no longer having to participate in the crazy game of nursing that I like to call "I was way too busy putting out fires all shift to do what I should have done, so YOU will have to do it for me!"

Over the last year my desire to own my own life has been steadily growing each day. You probably remember from nursing school that the best way to tackle a seemingly insurmountable task is to break it down into my case "baby" steps.

We Are Not Alone

I know that I'm not alone in my desire to create the life of my dreams...I hear it every day from the nurses I work with. You can hear it in their frustrated voices when they are trying to interpret the "chicken scratch" orders left by a doctor on their patient's chart. You can hear it in their voices when they complain about being paged for the third time in a row within 15 minutes by the same patient regarding the same subject that the nurse still doesn't have an answer for.

You've probably experienced withdrawing meds from the Pyxis machine with a nurse on either side of you...and both are doing the "potty dance" as they wait their turn to withdraw medications for just one more patient before they take their break. The obvious goal is to quiet everyone down so that the nurse doesn't get paged during her break. The not so obvious goal is an attempt on the nurse's part to take control of her life, her environment, her mental space...even just for 5 uninterrupted minutes while at her highly stressful and unpredictable job.

What Do Your Dreams Look Like?

Do you want to create a life where your outsides match your internal desires? Where what you do for a living does not involve a series of emergent stressful situations, one after another, being thrust upon you?

Instead, you'd probably like to be selectively surrounding yourself with like minded people who also want to own their own lives. Your environment would be rich with service to others both on a professional basis and a personal basis. If you owned your own life, you'd finally have the time and energy to devote to strengthening all of your relationships.

If you have dreams, like I have dreams, take baby steps each day to achieve those dreams!

Question: Do you think it's possible to achieve really big dreams through the right daily actions? Post your answers as a "Comment" below.

Take Care Of Yourselves Nurses!
Theresa Waller, RN
(714) 293-5398
Call Anytime

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