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12 Hours is Just not Enough

January 6, 2013

I started this blog in November, 2011 with the intent to show others what a day in the life as an RN was like. Looking back through previous entries, it’s interesting to see where I was last year at this time.  Lately I’ve been more motivated to write, and I’m hoping I can keep up with my blog again. Now, as I am home sick with pneumonia (2nd year in a row) I find the time to write.

As I write this entry,  I have been off of orientation for a full year and working as an RN for 16 months. By no means am I a seasoned nurse, but I am finally in a place where I feel as though I know what the fuck I am doing each day and don’t want to run for the hills if a patient rapidly declines requiring ICU transfer.

Now that I can no longer refer to myself as a “new grad” I feel I should write about what it’s like to not be a new grad. Perhaps some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past 16 months is that, you can’t do it all and you have to take good care of yourself. Sure, they may seem like simple concepts, but I assure you that working full time in a stressful and disease-ridden environment tends to test one’s ability not to sweat the small stuff and to take care of oneself.

As the tasks and charting for each patient become increasingly time consuming it can make one feel incomplete if everything on the “list” wasn’t accomplished in the 12-hour shift. But I think it’s important to remember that the reason we have shift changes with new nurses coming to relieve the exhausted ones at 0700 and 1900 is to take over the care of patients and sometimes that means finishing up tasks from the previous shift. As nurses we become very task oriented, constantly checking off the little boxes on our sheets of paper when we complete one of the seemingly 1-million tasks of the day. Included in these tasks might be: Remove Mr. X’s foley, give meds to patient A, B and C, provide Diabetic teaching to patient D, give insulin to patient A, chart the above for patient A, B, C and D…you get the idea.

At times it seems as though there are not enough hours in the day to get things done and sometimes I have a hard time accepting this fact. Myself, along with many of my coworkers hate leaving things “un-finished.” For example, I recently had a fellow nurse say to me at shift change, “I am so sorry I just did not have time to put bacitracin on patient X’s incision…I can go do that now if you like.” My response was, “go home, it is OK” as I thought to myself, “Are you f-ing serious? It’s bacitracin, why do we feel guilty about leaving such a menial task left un-done?”

Clearly, nurses are superheros, I’m the first one to say it. But it’s okay to admit that you can’t do it all on occasion. No one will eat you alive, you won’t get in trouble. In fact, most nurses are wonderful people (except for the ones who aren’t),  are on your side and will understand. Don’t run yourself into the ground on a busy shift if you are unable to finish everything, despite delegating and utilizing your resources. Also, important to note that what I’ve said above is not excusing one to leave things undone on a regular basis, just that on occasion it is impossible to finish every single task and rather than beat yourself up over it, just pass it on. Though if you leave me a cordis to remove, a foley to remove and a plethora of meds to give I won’t be happy…just kidding.

Stay tuned for the next entry all about the relation of outdoor sports and mental well-being. Thanks for reading!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    January 6, 2013 8:59 pm

    Couldn’t agree more!

  2. Elyn permalink
    January 6, 2013 9:16 pm

    I hope you are my nurse if and when I go to the hospital

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