Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tell me more...

I think today is going to be a tell me more Thursday. I haven't shared alot about myself to this point but figured I might as well add in some more personal info. I am a nurse, though I don't feel like one as I have been out of direct patient care for nearly two years now. Two years has not been long enough for me to forget the reasons why I ran away from it. Nurses work hard. It's a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining profession. Not that it is not rewarding, it is. Nothing beats having people tell you what a wonderful job you do and how much they appreciate your craft...and of course when you really do something that makes a difference to people, it can't help but touch your soul. I do miss those rewards. Miss the patient contact. I don't miss the politics in the job or the constant lack of support from co-workers. Nursing is a field where you MUST be independent and learn to adapt quickly. I had a very rough start to my career, which sadly wasn't that long ago. I graduated at the end of 2003, and passed nursing boards in early 2004.

I took my first job straight out of school, and started as a "graduate nurse" on a very busy telemetry floor. Telemetry is basically a cardiac unit. The heart has always intrigued and interested me and I loved learning how to monitor and treat heart problems. It was fast paced and scary. To this day, I am glad that I learn quick because I wouldn't have survived as long as I did otherwise. I worked this telemetry job for 7 months before becoming so exhausted and burned out that I had to step away. What caused this exhaustion you might ask? Typically, as a graduate nurse, you work side by side with an experienced RN. Their job is to slowly integrate you into the real world of nursing, starting off small and gradually building you up until you are comfortable and efficient at handling a full patient load. See, during the time you are a graduate nurse, nursing boards or the NCLEX, are ever looming in your mind. You work full time and study full time to prepare for the exam. Needless to say, it is a very stressful time in the life of a nurse.

I began this job in January of 2004 and I met my preceptor RN during a gathering of graduate nurses. At that time I felt like I was in good hands; however, my first day of work painted a VERY different picture. This RN showed me the floor, where things were located, how to work different equipment...things I had never used during my time in school. Then.....she gave me a FULL load of patients and left me alone to fend for myself. There is an old saying in nursing, which is, "Nurses eat their young". Yes, yes they do! I was scared and alone! I tried my best to organize and prioritize. I was passing meds, pushing IV drugs, hanging blood...the works; all before I was even legally allowed to do it. At the end of each shift my preceptor would pull my charts and sign off on all the work I had done, never bothering to check it for mistakes. I was a nervous wreck. Many of my friends from nursing school also worked at this same facility. They were all in different units of the hospital but at lunch I would sit and listen to each of them rave over how awesome their "training" was going. I felt lost and sad and scared and had no clue how to handle the situation.

This was me on a daily basis....

Yea, it sucked but I kept going. I learned how to fly when I barely had wings. It was tough, but I managed for awhile. Over time, things became more difficult for me. The stress was making me anxious and depressed and I was physically sick from it. Enough was enough and I finally spoke up. I went to my boss and asked for a transfer. Told her telemetry was not the right fit for me. I was moved to an orthopedic unit and fell into a similar pattern. Years later I realized it happened because I was a good nurse. I understood how to prioritize and get things done. I just let the fear of doing things wrong consume me and it was a big downfall. After that I moved around alot, my personal life was a wreck and my professional life suffered. I got to where I hated nursing and wanted nothing to do with it. This was a problem since that was where my education was. I lost job after job after job and to this day I cannot figure out why people kept hiring me. Just shows how much demand there is for nursing professionals.

Almost two years ago, I had a bit of luck fall my way. I was unemployed and broke sitting at home trying to figure out what to do with myself. I went through some counseling to clear up my personal life and was ready to move on professionally. An Internet search led me to the job I currently have. I am now a medical writer. It required a nursing degree but is anything but nursing. I work from the comfort of home on an online server. I review medical records and write narratives. It is repetitive but really work I enjoy. The records I read are very interesting and as they are all work comp related, there is some pretty tragic things within. Though I don't get the reward of feeling like I'm helping people, I love what I do and the other benefits really outweigh anything I ever experienced as a floor nurse.

Now that I am two years out of the physical nursing side I wonder about going back to it. I don't think I've really been away long enough to miss it, and my job has not gotten boring yet. I have promised myself that some day I will go back into it though and sometimes think about when that time will be. I just don't know.


otin said...

Nursing is a rough field. I have known a few nurses and they have had it pretty tough. If your new job pays well, it sounds pretty good!

Barb said...

Hi. Stumbled on your blog from the grumpy doc. I am in awe of nurses! I'm sorry your first job didn't turn out the way you'd hoped, but maybe, if you decide to go back, it'll be better. Until then, enjoy your writing job! BTW, I live in Glen Carbon.

Bamboo said...

Well Barb, Hi neighbor!

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