Tag: career

It Was Time To Leave Healthcare

My last day was very surreal. With each task, I’d think “Oh, this is the last time I’ll ever do this”. I’ll never start an IV again. I’ll never pull out another Hemovac drain. This is the last time I’ll hang antibiotics. It’s the very last time I’ll dispense medications. It was an odd feeling.

It was time to leave healthcare for a lot of reasons. Healthcare has changed, and not for the better. Healthcare workers have been leaving the profession for a while, but Covid turned that exodus into a stampede. Hospitals are facing a crushing shortage of workers. That lack of staff is making working on the hospital floor unsafe. The patients are sicker, more demanding, ruder, and more violent. At the same time the near-daily onslaught of new rules, regulations, and charting/documenting requirements leave little time to actually connect with your patient. It’s sad, and I don’t see it getting better.

As an RN, I’ve been hit, kicked, spit on, yelled at, threatened, peed on, vomited on, and cleaned up more poop than you can possibly imagine. All while working a 14-hour day, sometimes without enough time to take a lunch break. We worked the Covid floors without enough supplies, being forced to wear the same dirty mask for two and three days because there was such a shortage. It’s been interesting times the last few years.

At the same time, it’s been an amazing experience. I saw and did things I never thought I’d be doing. I was able to connect with people at a level you can’t do at a cocktail party. I’ve held the hands of people as they drew their last breath. I spent time consoling people who just received devastating news about a tumor prognosis or were newly paralyzed. I sat quietly with people whose loved one was going to pass away soon. I also got to hear some fantastic stories from old folks about growing up in the depression, war experiences, and traveling across the country before there were interstate highways. I made some good calls that probably resulted in people living vs dying. I responded to codes and performed CPR on folks. I’ve had several people stop me in a store and tell me that, “you won’t remember me, but you took care of my father. He was so grateful for your care.” I have enough stories of crazy, wacky patients, gruesome injuries, and blood and gore to last a lifetime. In my pre-healthcare life, I never would have imagined that one day I’d be chasing a crazy, naked old lady with dementia as she ran down the stairs towards the parking lot. They definitely skipped over that part in nursing school.

I’m grateful I got to experience all of it. The good and the bad. (ok, maybe not the poop) It’s made me more appreciative of the blessings I have in my life. It’s also made me realize how important it is to try and be a good human. At the end of the day, that’s all you have. When you exit this world, how do you want people to remember you? Healthcare reminded me on a daily basis that you don’t know when your time is up. Slow down a bit and enjoy life. Make sure you take the time to see and do things. Because you never know what’s around the corner.

So, it’s time for the next chapter. I’m not entirely sure what that is yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

A Day In The Life

I’m an RN.

Yesterday was a busy day. I was pretty tired when I got home. My back hurt. I probably fell asleep thirty seconds after my head hit the pillow. In my previous career I was a software engineer. I thought I had busy days back then. Yes, I had some long days but mostly it was staying late to figure something out or catching up on emails. I’d be tired when I got home and declare, “whew, we need a vacation. It’s time to decompress”. Looking back, I was tired because I’d sat in a chair without moving for eight hours. I’d eat crap food and drink gallons of coffee. By the end of the day I’d have a headache from staring at the screen. I was tired, but not from “work”. I really had no idea what it felt like to be truly tired.

Yesterday I got to the hospital at 6:30 AM. Found out they were floating me to another floor. This makes everything exponentially more difficult. You don’t know who the doctors are, what their expectations are for wound care, etc… You can’t find the supplies you need. You don’t know what the access codes are to the various secure areas you need to get to. Basically, you need to ask someone for help for simple things all day long.

I transfused blood. Started IV’s. Removed IV’s. Changed dressings. I discharged three patients and admitted three more. I infused IVIG. Each of the transfusions requires staying in the patient’s room and monitoring vital signs every five minutes for 20 minutes, then every 30 minutes for the multiple hours it takes to finish. I did at least ten physical assessments. I lifted old people onto bedside commodes. I rolled, pulled, wiped, cleaned, changed sheets, and generally manhandled a 300-pound bed-bound patient who shit the bed. I argued on the phone with the pharmacy about medication timing. I struggled to coordinate how to admit a direct-admit patient with the doctor, the admitting office, and a unit clerk. I got yelled at by a drunk patient who was tired of waiting for his x-ray. When he got back from x-ray, he promptly shit all over the floor from the oral barium they gave him. I was told by a nasty old man that I was pretty useless and clearly didn’t know what I was doing. He had a critical hematocrit level and I had to sit in the room and convince him that yes, taking his blood pressure every five minutes was actually important. I sprinted down the hall every time a confused old lady set off her bed alarm to go look for her cat. I ran from one end of the hospital to the other to catch an Uber driver who was waiting for a patient and pleaded with him to just wait fifteen more minutes while we got the patient dressed. I had to sneak a patient’s anti-seizure medication into pudding and convince him to take it. Phone calls. And more phone calls. Charting. Paperwork. More charting. More paperwork because I forgot to add the year to a date on a form I sent to the blood bank. Written hand-off reports. Verbal hand-off reports to four different nurses.

After my shift was over, I spent another thirty minutes to finish charting things that I didn’t have time for during the day. I did not take a lunch. I left the hospital at 8:20 PM. In my previous life I thought I worked hard. I thought I was tired after a workday. I had no idea.

I’m an RN.