I have been fully immersed in my new role(s) for over a month now. I’m surely still in the honeymoon period, so take this with a grain of salt, but I am soooooo much happier in general. I even went back to my old hospital to visit a friend who had been admitted, and one of my former co-workers commented that I seemed like I was in a better place. Boy am I.
Hospice nursing is as rewarding as I expected it to be. It is also a place that seems to attract staff with an unbelievable work ethic and team-oriented spirit, which means that management comes in to work the floor when needed, our supervisors and attending physicians often “stop by” on weekends to check in with patients, families and staff, and most of us stay at least 1-2 hours past our shift time to finish our documentation or simply help the oncoming staff with patient care. Although we could be criticized for lack of boundaries, for now I am (mostly) refreshed by the dedication I see on a regular basis. The people who work in hospice – from the nurses to the volunteers – consider it a privilege and a calling, and the sense of commitment is inspiring.
My new hem/onc floor is also going well. I’ll finish my orientation next week, but for the most part I am operating independently. Unlike my former floor, they give chemo all the time so they are fairly relaxed about the process and not nearly as anxious. These are helpful qualities for a nurse who loves oncology but is terrified about giving chemo. The laid-back environment pervades the unit, although ironically is it also a floor with a disproportionate share of rapid responses and codes. The nurses are still remarkably vigilant. It’s hard to explain. It’s also a nice counter-balance to the emotional intensity of hospice. And the staffing, oh the staffing. The MAXIMUM number of patients any nurse can have is four. Yes, four. We always have three nursing assistants. Charge nurses do not take patients, period. Coming from a place where I can easily have six patients, where more than once I worked as charge nurse with three patients (two of whom were getting chemo), and where we are often short one, even two, NAs, it’s almost a vacation.
And then there is teaching. I love teaching. After a bad shift or an emotional encounter, I go to my clinical site and spend time with students who are bursting at the seams about everything they get to learn. It reminds me why I love this profession. It’s an opportunity to adopt the roles of mentor and support system that have always sustained me. Granted, I have an incredible group of students this semester, and next spring I may be eating my words. But somehow I doubt it.
I love it so much that I’m considering a fourth potential position (yes, I know I’m crazy). Another nursing school in the area, where I applied for a full-time teaching position last summer, contacted me about a possible clinical instructor job for the spring. The details have yet to be worked out and no official offer has been made, but it’s a distinct option. Bonus: It pays $5/hour more than any of my current jobs.
The beauty of working per diem is that I can work when I am available. The challenge is piecing together multiple schedules and not over-promising my availability to one job, to the detriment of work options with another. Not to mention balancing these schedules with school and my own clinical rotations.
Sigh…I suppose I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t busy.