My Nursing Kit

Community health nursing is a far cry from critical care in many ways. Not the least of which is technology. Whereas my days used to be filled with interpreting telemetry strips and paging doctors with MRI results, the job requirements outside the hallowed hospital doors focus much less on equipment.

But I do have my bag full of tricks to help me with quick assessments out in the field. From BP cuffs (yes, we do our own blood pressures…manually! *Gasp* 😉 ), to glucometers to cool little portable pulse oximeters, I have been equipped with tools to make sure my clients are stable. And I can use the results of my assessments to provide education and advocate to their other providers, if necessary.

But this week I learned that the community health nurse’s kit should also include some not-so-typical items:

  1. Peppermint Oil/Mentholatum. You’re going into people’s homes. People whose sense of hygiene/cleanliness may not match yours. Or they may be self-neglecting (I do work for Adult Protective Services). Regardless of the reason, you may see/smell/step in some stinky situations. Learn how to hold your breath and still do your job. And never tell or show the client that you think they’re living in filth, even if they are. You’re there to help them, not judge them.
  2. Allergy Meds. Not for the client, for YOU! From dust to critters, you never know what you’ll encounter. I was unable to orient fully on a home visit this week because the client had more cats than I could count. Nurse Teeny + cats = Big Disaster. I’ll be stocking up on the Zyrtec.
  3. Febreze. See above #1. Unless you want to offend your office-mates and/or the residents of the next home you are visiting, I would suggest spraying yourself down after certain house calls. Last week involved stuffing my coat into a biohazard bag until I could get home and do laundry. 🙂

Yes indeed, community health nursing is a far cry from critical care.

But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way…

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