I’m Alive!

Sorry I’ve been off the grid folks! I worked three in a row last weekend, and am in the midst of an odd on-off-on-off-on schedule this week. Pretty much all I’ve been doing is working and sleeping. Ahh, night shift. 😉

Anyhoo, I did survive my first several shifts on my own. There were some hairy moments (like when two patients needed new IVs at the same time), but I was fortunate enough to have a fabulous team at my side and I never felt like I’d be up a creek were something to go wrong. A fellow newbie and I even teamed up to rock an admission that came rolling in the door 45 minutes before shift change. I’m slowly but surely feeling like I can actually get the hang of this acute care nursing thing.

The only hitch was knowing that I had to keep moving, even when I could sense my patients might benefit from time to just…unload. With 5-6 patients a night, there is literally no sitting down for more than 10 minutes at a time. Therapeutic communication is somewhat hindered when you are rushing around a room, hanging IVs and listening to heart sounds. With a preceptor I could tag team – while I was learning the tasks, she could sit and shoot the breeze. I felt like it put people more at ease when we had time to just stay still for a few minutes.

When I worked as a community health nurse, I literally had all the time in the world. I set my schedule and if I needed a home visit to last for three hours, just to hear someone out, I could do so. Now we are advised to slowly back out when our patients are being a little too chatty. That aspect of my job makes me sad. Especially considering that many of my patients are dealing with cancer.

I knew I would miss having the luxury of time. And I know there are small things I can do to still connect with patients. Just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I have to be a robot. But with current staffing ratios and practices, I believe that the art of nursing sometimes misses out…and so do our patients.

How do you balance the tasks you must perform with the communication and time you know your patients could use? Have you learned any tricks that help you connect in the midst of rushing around?

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