Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lighting the Way


Statue of Florence Nightingale by Arthur George Walker

A hundred years ago now, I made a decision to go to nursing school.  It wasn't a decision made in desperation like I see so many make these days.  My decision was an answer to a calling.  From an early age, I felt the desire to be a nurse so I could help people.  The nursing shortage has encouraged many to consider nursing as a second, third or even fourth career.  To be sure, some of those nurses have turned out just fine, but others?  They may be better suited to engineering.  The blessing of this career is that even those who lack people skills can often find a place to shine within this profession.

Although many can stay in one job forever, this doesn't seem to be in my make-up.  After awhile, I get bored and start looking around.  To give you an idea of how much I've done this, just take a look at where I've been:

Nursing homes- I worked at two of them.  One for 1 day (the way they had the previous shift set up meds for the next shift scared me to death), and one for 2 years.  I loved the residents, but the work burden, not so much.

Neuro-rehab- Now you can't tell me that the choices we make don't set us up for things that will happen down the road.  I had this job long before I birthed my last child and decades before Mr. Larger Than Life cracked his coconut.  Talk about foresight-this was spooky.

Transplant nurse- I worked for 4 years as a kidney/pancreas transplant nurse.  I liked that job just fine, but couldn't work like that anymore because of Rachel.  I needed something more flexible.

Home Care nurse- I worked in that for 1 year but had a few patients who scared the hell out of me and had to stop doing that.  One told her grandson that she would hit me on the head so he could steal my wedding ring.  One stalked me.  One patient's husband threatened to break my leg like he broke his wife's leg.  He was a bit upset that I'd called Adult Protective Services on his sorry ass.  Truth be told, outside of the confines of a medical practice or hospital, it can be scary out there.

Urology research nurse-  I worked for a huge urology practice as a certified clinical research assistant.  Since I was working with  friends, this was a great job, but it's too bad the docs were impossible.  This was a place where above all else, it was the almighty dollar that was worshiped.  In addition, I got bored taking care of people with erectile dysfunction, preferring instead to take care of those with more serious health care issues.  After Viagra was approved, ED seemed to be the bulk of the practice.  

Clinical Research Monitor- This was a lucrative position that had me flying all over the country to monitor a clinical research trial.  I liked that job quite a bit, but then 9/11 happened and had me questioning whether or not flying to different cities every single week was such a wise way to work.  In fact, on 9/11, I was on the phone with a St. Louis pharmaceutical company interviewing for a position with them while madmen were flying planes into buildings.

ER nurse- now I liked that job.  A lot.  I like to think that I could go back to doing that if I ever tired of hospice.  If you like to be entertained, have a thing for drama, or a well honed love of the ludicrous, this type of job is a sure fit.  At the time I worked in that ER, I was a contingent employee and needed full time work with benefits.  ICU had that job, so I left.

ICU nurse-  After about a year, I loved that job-it took that long to feel comfortable.  If my back wasn't in the condition it's in, I'd still be doing that job.  The physical burden was too big a price to pay.  After working 2 or 3 days in a row, I'd wake up in the morning and hobble around in severe pain.  The question on those days was always, is this worth it? Ultimately, it was not.

Hospice nurse- I love this job too.  It really is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had as a nurse and although I miss the camaraderie of working directly with others, I really am well suited for the position that I have.  Spending time with patients is often a luxury in a hospital setting, but I've finally found a position which allows me to do just that.  If a visit takes 4 hours, then that's what it takes.  There aren't too many nursing jobs available that offer time with the patients as a side benefit.  For someone who went into nursing out of a desire to help people, this job fits me like a glove.

As you can plainly see, I've been around and I've had the ability to reinvent myself in my career.  Today, the beginning of National Nurses Week, reminds me to be thankful for the flexibility of my profession and for the many nurses who have touched my life.  I'm grateful for the many mentors I've had within my profession and for the enduring friendships I've made.

Happy Nurse's Week to all of my nursing friends.  For all you do, thank you.


22 comments:

Amy said...

Nurses are truly a gift to the world. My three hospitalizations (two childbirths, one complication from childbirth) were all made much better for the nursing care--and I mean physical and emotional care. My brother was in the hospital six weeks last year after having a stroke, and he can't say enough about what a difference the nurses made. My hat's off to all of the nurses out there who care so much and make a difference.

Rudee said...

Amy, I've been cared for by nurses too, and they do make a difference-almost always for the better.

Stephanie V said...

I have friends who are (or have been) nurses and I have always had such tremendous respect for them. As you say, Rudee, some of us are not meant to do this kind of work. More power to those who are!

Betty Flocken said...

Rudee! Thank YOU for the profession you've chosen. If I knew where they are now, I have so many special angels I'd like to thank for the kindness that made such a difference so many times, especially these last years... I don't know where they are, so I'll THANK YOU. You'd be the person I'd want near me if I have another heart attack - good, efficient, AND kind.
Happy Nurses week.

Lisa L said...

Happy Nurses' Day to you Rudee...

Rose said...

Isn't it interesting that nurse's week is the same week as teacher's? I thought I wanted to be a nurse when I was a teenager but the science scared me; so of course now I'm a science teacher. I have great admiration for nurses who are called. Thank you.

Renie Burghardt said...

Rudee,

What a great post! It's been interesting to read about the different positions you've had in your profession. And these days, I'm sure you are thought of as an Angel Nurse, at the Hospice!

Happy Nurses Day, Rudee!

distracted by shiny objects said...

Your gift is in the mail---an umbrella with the logo of the hospital before the recent name change. No thanks necessary, you know me, I'm a giver.
(Last year it was a trial sample of Age-Defying Night Cream. The perks just never stop in this profession) :>)

debra said...

It's the not just the care that you provide, its the caring. It does make a difference.

sue b said...

And happy Nurses' Week to you, too. I've never regretted my choice. It's a privilege to be with people during times in their lives when they are most vulnerable and to experience their trust in me to help them. It's such a satisfying career and it sure isn't ever dull!

ecrunner said...

What a great week! Thanks to you and all nurses for the dedication you put into nursing. All our thanks would only be a small tribute to nurses that deserve so much more.

the rotten correspondent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the rotten correspondent said...

As a (relatively) new nurse I've only done ICU and ER, but agree one hundred percent with everything you've said about them. Interestingly enough, hospice is the only other kind of nursing I would even consider doing...down the road a bit.

You've had an amazingly varied career. Happy Nurses Week to you, too.

the rotten correspondent said...

sorry...itchy trigger finger...

Rositta said...

Happy Nurses Week to you Rudee. I'm glad the job suits you so well and that's a good thing for both you and the patients. I have known many nurses in my life, most of them really good people who took their calling seriously. There have though been some abysmal ones also and that's a shame. Whether they are just truly over worked and tired or not suited to the job I don't know but they shouldn't be doing the job. When we are ill and at their mercy we need caring people...ciao

NCmountainwoman said...

Happy Nurses Week.

Since I've retired I haven't thought much about it. I worked in CCU in my early career. I am so old, I remember when we started using Lidocaine for PVCs.

Most of my career was home health, first as a visit nurse and then administration. I was always promoted further and further away from the patient...the very thing that I loved most.

Djinn said...

Happy Nurse's day, Rudee! Thanks for your service to mankind - it's nurses who make so much of our medical experiences more comfortable, more tolerable, even.

Kathleen said...

Fascinating, journey, Rudee. I wish I hadn't been such a snob, thinking that I HAD to be a doctor (though I never became one) and had given nursing a try. I've looked into a postbac nursing program because I have been really interested in developing some kind of direct care skill set to offer to hospice or public health, particularly international work. Think I should? A little too late?

Rudee said...

Distracted-I don't think we'll be getting any logo stuff this year. Two years ago, we were given cheap binders meant to store our CEUs in order to make it easier for the boss in the end. One year-right before we merged with another hospital, we got lunch bags which looked more like hazardous waste bags. I still have mine. Your comment is particularly funny because of this-we were no longer that hospital plastered over the front of that bag.

Rudee said...

NC- I didn't know you were/are a nurse. You know, once a nurse, always a nurse. Although I try not to play favorites, I always give nurses a little extra TLC.

Kathleen-it's never too late to join the fold. We really are a special breed and most of us harbor no secret desires to be doctors-even though many of us are smart enough to get through it all. We have our own practice which provides a more holistic approach to healing and health.

Brenda said...

Don't know if you will come back here. I am behind on blog reading. Anyway, I enjoyed this post and since I have had 5 stomach surgeries and other hospital stays for various reasons, I have always applauded the nurses for many reasons. A patient generally spends 10 to 15 minutes tops with the doctor, even after surgery. Nurses are there 24/7. Most are like angelic Moms there to help you when you feel so helpless. Thanks for being a nurse Rudee, and I am sure a very good one, and Thanks to all the nurses who read your blog. I do wish you all would start wearing those cute white hats again though. And the white uniform dresses and white shoes. Hahaha

Winifred said...

What a great post Rudee. Nurses are the mainstays of patient care. Keep up the good work, people like you are beyond price.

Didn't realise The Lady with the Lamp was well known outside the UK.