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