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The line in the sand

I’m finding that nurses I’m paired with are telling me that I should leave things to the Nursing Assistant (NA). While I understand the importance of properly delegating and prioritizing, I feel that my actions are still appropriate. Why should I rush out of the room and send an NA to help someone to the commode when I have no pressing issue looming? If I take an extra five minutes to talk to the patient and get them settled when returning from a procedure, isn’t that preferable to calling an already busy NA to get it done?

I’m not talking about each and every task that comes up, but stuff that allows me to actually get to know the patient for more than the time to hand them a pill or hang an IV then quickly depart. I’m frustrated with the lack of attention to any realm not directly related to addressing a medical condition. Isn’t part of nursing supposed to be treating the entire patient? Why do I find myself in the minority when trying to support a patient with more than pills?

The real world and book-knowledge are not always close cousins when it comes to reality, and I understand that. The time constraints on nurses seem a crutch in some cases, to allow some behavior I’m not quite onboard with yet.

But I’m still in school, so I may still see the error of my ways.

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Filling out a form

There are a lot of forms to deal with for school. I neglected one between semesters. I had ten days to deal with it, and I lost my head. I actually went and enjoyed myself, taking a trip with the Queen and Princesses. I read books. I watched movies.

But I didn’t take care of the form.

I left it until the first day of classes last week, and turned it in late. Now I don’t get to attend the first clinical day, and will be written up for my distressing lack of responsibility.

I can’t really blame anyone else, the clinical site has to have it’s paperwork in order for each student on the premises. I don’t have it, so they won’t have me.

But I do wonder what would have happened if I simply showed up on site at 6:30 tomorrow, with no form in hand. Would they have really turned me away after having driven 60 miles to get there? Should I not have emailed my instructor to get some feedback?

In the meantime head over to

New Change of Shift logo

being hosted at Nurse Ratched’s Place for some good time-wasting and informative blogging.

Pieces of Eight

I graduated in 1983 (you do the math). Styx is a touchstone for me and my classmates. And since I managed to get a reference to the number 8, class, and the word “touch” in one sentence, I’m happy. I’ve been tagged by NNR to unveil eight things about myself, and we’re both students. I’ve covered all the bases.

The list is one that is at once both intensely personal and simultaneously of no consequence. I don’t know any of you all personally, so the liklihood of this causing an embarrassing moment over Thanksgiving food is unlikely. I think the hardest part will be identifying eight more people, since I’m a noob to the nurse blogging community.

OK, I’ve stalled long enough. The list, in no particular order:

  1. I’m embarrassed by Bush. From a personal and national perspective, I find he and his cronies to be unforgivably stupid and selfish. The fact that I voted against him twice (the man was RE-elected!) and was outvoted both times stuns me.
  2. I was kidnapped as a puppy. Yup. Biological father swooped and absconded with my sister and me to another state. Mommy went nuts looking for us. After a few months he called and told her where to show up on a couple of hours notice, and brought her to us. But only because he was doing so poorly he needed her there to deal with us. She was a virtual prisoner for several months until he could be convinced to let us all go.
  3. I have hepatitis C. It was acquired either back when I was born a premie and given multiple transfusions, or when I had major surgery back in my late teens and had blood products. Nobody knows, and everyone feels bad about it. So far I’m healthy and no signs or symptoms at all of the disease.
  4. I don’t understand the stock market. How can the cost of soy beans make people buy a house or not? What does a number on a ticker have to do with the unemployment rate? Economics are completely beyond me.
  5. I will cry at the drop of a hat. Especially if someone else starts crying first. Those tear ducts work! This is one of my biggest challenges as a nurse: how to remain available and supportive while crying and trying not to allow snot to run down my face.
  6. This blog is a secret one from my family and friends. I have another that I keep for them, and everyone assumes I’m posting to it when I’m writing like this (unless they’ve all conspired to fool me). I keep it anonymous not because I’m hiding things from them, but to allow myself freedom to post about things that may touch on them in some way. I’d actually be fine if they were all secretly reading this blog but just didn’t tell me about it.
  7. My mom is happy I’m becoming a nurse because she understands it better than the work I did in computers. “So, you’re one of those people I talk to when I have a problem with my computer?” “No Mom, I write games and things.” “Like that commercial I saw last night with the medicine bottle swinging through the jungle?” “No Mom, that’s animation, what I do is different”… and on and on. She at least has some feeling for what a nurse does, even if it’s circa 1970.
  8. I married the woman of my dreams. I saw her freshman year of high school, and my heart was captured. We were part of an incestuous group that always had some member yearning for one of the others, and we remained friends for 14 years. Then we went on a date because we were both single and decided to try adding to our friendship. We were married six months later. She is my Queen.

OK, I’m not sure about the rules on these “tagging” things. My understanding is I tag 8 other bloggers. I’m hoping they don’t all have to be in the same “area” of nursing, as I don’t think I can generate that many. And I’m not sure they’ll respond if I do tag them.

  1. Kim at Emergiblog– because she’s my hero and fairy blogmother.
  2. Dr Whoo at Ob/Gyn Kenobi – because I really like the way she writes. (Congrats on the bean!)
  3. Ian at ImpactED Nurse – because he’s got wit, humor, and heart.
  4. Monkeygirl at Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey – because she seems like someone I’d like to meet.
  5. Emergency Room Nurse at Madness: tales of an emergency room nurse – She makes me glad I’m not living or working in the inner city.
  6. Miranda5 at O Brave New World – because she reminds me about being a secretary and new to the hospital, and how we’re all just people.
  7. Beth at PixelRN – because my first degree was in photography, and I like the way she thinks.
  8. Dave at Dave’s Long Box – because I admire his ability to write about anything and make it amusing.

Thanks to any and all that actually do something with the tag.

When Mark Twain said the above, I don’t think he was talking about nursing. But I’m about to step into the adult pool without benefit of large studies or data collection other than my own observations. So I’m looking for some feedback.

I’ve written before about my distaste for mean people. I’ve also seen some recent posts by other bloggers that touch on the whole “eating their young” theme. But I’d like to take it a step further.

I’ve met burnt out nurses. I’ve encountered new grads with bad attitudes. I’ve run into pessimistic people all throughout healthcare. I actually understand the reasons behind why someone would feel so poorly about their vocational choice. I get it.

What I don’t get is when someone takes on the role of an instructor and then uses that opportunity to degrade, dominate, disempower, or otherwise abuse the students. What motivation could there possibly be to make that seem like a good idea. “Gee, I hate going in today, I really have a sucky life. I have a whole group of people eager and waiting to take on that load for me: I think I’ll go try to get them to quit.” Do people actually think that while looking up at the ceiling in the morning?

Here’s where I really start treading water. Not to mention generalizing (remember that title?). My thinking is it goes back to the largely feminine workforce in the profession. Nursing is a woman’s job. In the sense that people think of a nurse as a female. Males in the profession still comprise only about 6% nationally. The percentages are shifting because of the newly perceived advantages to careers in nursing, but this is a pretty recent phenomenon.

So, if we all think back a couple of years (or more) to junior high and high school, what are the dynamics within the female circles?

Mean Girls

That’s right. Estrogen and other hormones are now running and screaming down the hallways of these girl’s veins. Growing up as a guy is tough. I happen to know about this. Most of it has to do with physical size and intimidation however. Growing up as a girl is a completely different thing that uses that emotional kung-fu of groups and acceptance/outcast to a much further degree than guys can get a grip on. And it works. Any girl not willing to accept the rule of the dominant female can be made to suffer.

Now fast-forward several years, and you stick a bunch of women in a position that is under-appreciated, underpaid, disrespected, and demeaned. You get a lot of that same internal dynamic thing going on. Those that hold power do so through mastery of that psych-fu which served so well previously. Only this is the real deal. It’s not about position in lunch line, or where you sit on the bus. This is workplace bullying that has become so ingrained that it’s now accepted as part of the process of becoming a nurse–not only accepted, but expected. If you weren’t given a hazing that makes a Jackass segment look like a practice run, you must not be a real nurse.

I say nay. I know the world is largely male-dominated. I try not to take advantage of the fact that my plumbing is everted, but I think the guys have it on workplace professionalism. I know I’ve seen this faction-building and in-fighting to rival the best of reality shows right at my workplace. It’s not pretty. And the vast majority is initiated and perpetuated by the females. By ratio alone, each male would have to be monumentally cruel just to register.

But don’t get me started on MDs.

Am I alone in this perception?

Confused dog

OK, apologies again for being such a rotten poster lately. I was battling a nursing instructor determined to undermine every last shred of confidence I had acquired. I survived, and we’ll be bad memories for each other from this point on. The weird part was she decided to expand her area of affliction to include other students, and the group realized it wasn’t just a personality conflict between she and I. Now she has more than one person looking into the whole situation to find out what the deal is.

But let’s move on.

I’m going into my last semester, and have a much improved outlook. I’ve gotten some time with the Queen and princesses, and will be starting up with my head on straight. Oh, and work. Lots of time at the hospital as a nursing assistant.

More real substance later, but I wanted to post something. I tried the other night, but WP was very funky and not behaving itself at all.