Yea, I’m JUST a Floor Nurse.

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Reflecting on my “student nurse self,” I vividly remember two regretable ideas I had of the profession I was about to embark on. The first being that I would not be able to maximize my ability or skills working at a small town hospital. The second being that I WOULD NOT be a nurse on a medical surgical floor. If I absolutely had to “do my time” on med/surg so that I could specialize in something “better,” so be it. But, it WILL only be a steeping stone.
My perception of the typical “floor nurse” was that they were run-of-the-mill, mediocre in skill, often jaded or burned out, having a basic knowledge base, not up for a challenge, and definitely not what I was aiming for in my career. I recall my eyes glazing over every time a med/surg nurse recruiter came to school to speak. I had plans of really making a difference. Perhaps on the front line in the ER, or juggling the delicate balance of life and death in some fancy ICU, yea, that sounded so cool.
The Good Lord does have a sense of humor, people. When I took my first job as a new grad in a tiny, local hospital on the med/surg floor, I was ready to get my feet wet, but it was still just going to be a brief stent until I could get good enough to move on and be a “real nurse.”
It didn’t take long for me to find out that one must be one hell of a badass nurse to thrive on a floor like that. One by one, the little ideas I had about what floor nursing was obliterated and crapped on by my actual experience. On a given day, I will likely have a ped, a geriatric rehab patient, a fresh ortho surgery, a postpartum,  and CHFer. I work with some of the most caring people I have ever met. And, while our patient population isn’t typically very critical, when they take a quick turn for the worse, WE ARE IT. Everyone on our team wears multiple hats because we just don’t have the resources that are available at larger facilities.  In that way, we have to be MORE capable, MORE self reliant, and MORE flexible. I have truly worked with some stone cold beasts of nurses and I am glad I have had them to show me the way. Our problem solving is top notch, our time management is fine-tuned, our work is our calling. It just has to be. I am so glad that I was so wrong. I have learned so much. It can be a real riptide out there working under a lot of pressure and time contraints, but if you and your team are up to the challenge, it is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

Kori Reeves, Registered Nerd

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“Things I’d NEVER Do”

If you are considering changing your profession to one that involves patient care, bravo! Nothing is more rewarding or fulfilling. Having said that, I need to make crystal clear to you this one thing: YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF! Do me a favor and find yourself a group of nurses,  techs, aides, respiratory therapists, what-have-you, and stand close enough to the to eavesdrop.  The conversation will, undoubtedly,  shift to a colorful description of what they spend their day doing and their reactions to the circumstances they are faced with. You will chuckle and probably be amused, but when you are tempted to think “I’d never do/say/touch that,” stop yourself right there because you don’t even know how wrong you are. This job really brings out sides of you that you didn’t know existed. Learn from some of my examples of things I’d surely NEVER do in a kajillion years.

Grab at a strangers penis with an ungloved hand.
Stop right there Judgy McJudgerson. Have you ever seen what happens when something the size of a large grape is ripped through a man’s urethra? If you followed a banshee-like shriek into a room and saw a fully inflated Foley catheter in the floor and a guyser of blood projecting out of a persons crotch to the steady rhythm of their beating heart, you might jump to apply pressure at the bleeding site too. Luckily, I caught myself in the knick of time and invited my good friend, Don Gloves, to the party.

Play surgeon in the supply closet.
Nurses, in are inherently obsessive “pickers.” You know, the type that cant leave the sunburn skin flakes alone, or they ask to tweeze other peoples chin hairs. Nothing is more gratifying than squeezing a copious amount of drainage from a good wound. I have had a fellow nurse call me into the supply closet and hand me an 18 gauge needle so I could “pop the huge zit she couldn’t see inside her ear.” Not gonna lie, I didn’t hate it. Zits and boils and booboos are like our sick version of candy crush.

Wash poop out of your watch strap and keep on wearing it.
I changed that patient an hour ago and its like that smell is following me everywhere I go. Oh, it totally is following me and there it is. I couldn’t embed that much crap in a watch if I was trying to win money doing it. Did I use my wrist to wipe? Oh well, its just digested food right?

Hide out
I’ve worked in both food service and retail and nothing pisses me off quite like an employee taking extended “bathroom breaks.” Now that I work in nursing, I have caught myself occasionally taking 10-15 minutes for a 2 minute job just so I can be off of my feet for a little bit. Its a plus that there are no phones or lights ringing my ears off in my lavatory fortress of solitude. I further defend my actions by suggesting that a mid-shift PooTube video (That’s YouTube during a bathroom break) is therapeutic and sometimes necessary to collect one’s sanity. The only down side is how crazy you sound when people can hear giggling coming from the toilet when you are really just watching funny cats on the internet.

Stockpile
I’m terrible to forget the end-of-shift ritual of emptying my pockets. I’m much to involved in the end-of-shift ritual of GTFO ASAP, if ya know what I mean. Needless to say, I make it home with lots of “goodies.” Its not “stealing” if it is unintentional, right? I’ve got this drawer at home that I empty my pockets into that makes me feel kind of like Ariel the mermaid.
“I’ve got gauzes and bandaids aplenty… I’ve got tape rolls and prep pads galore… you want IV cannulas? I’ve got 20g.”
Thus far, I’ve found household uses for most all of it. Did you know that alcohol preps are a fun firestarter? Unfortunately, since no one in my house is a junkie, the cannulas are useless. But I keep them, because you never know when we need an emergency fluid bolus for our post-apocalyptic survival.

PS never be “that guy”. Med room flatulence is the rudest of inconsiderations on the floor.

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Kori Reeves, Registered Nerd