How did your nursing journey begin?
My first healthcare employment started 27 years ago as a nursing student working as a unit clerk for adult ICU/telemetry and as a burn technician for Children’s Mercy. I originally thought that I wanted to be a pediatric nurse but upon graduation, I chose to remain in critical care with adults. I spent 11 years working in critical care and then left hospital nursing for specialty infusion nursing where I was better able to schedule around my 3 daughters’ activities. After 10 years of a less conventional nursing job,
I returned to the hospital for the convenience of 12 hour shifts & quickly remembered how much I missed hospital bedside nursing.
What do you like most about being an ICU nurse?
I would consider myself a very detail oriented type of person and I enjoy the tasks/skills required to care for a medically complex patient. I love the teamwork among my coworkers & knowing that we will all work together to get through our very long days. I enjoy training new employees & by working in a teaching hospital, I get to participate in helping a variety of medical professionals develop their skills.
What is a typical shift like in the ICU?
I’m not sure that there is such a thing as a typical shift in the ICU. A twelve hour day is packed with constant tasks, coordination of care with dozens of people, & keeping patients comfortable. You never know what will come through the door but there is usually a mix of predictability and “okay I have seen it all” in the ICU setting.
What was it like working during the pandemic?
I believe that hospital nurses that have endured these last few years of COVID feel terribly disrespected in many ways. We lost hundreds/thousands of staff members to contract jobs, we didn’t get to “stay home” during anything, and we still have to deal with visitors & patients that deny the severity of COVID-19 & refuse to follow basic masking & vaccination requirements. It is especially disheartening when healthcare professionals downplay this pandemic or refuse to support & demonstrate infection prevention. No doubt we are all tired, but I am encouraged by our new generation of nurses that are recognizing that this won’t be their first pandemic in their career and that healthcare must always adapt and change.
What keeps you motivated to continue doing what you are doing?
Through the years I have had many people ask me why I haven’t gone into nursing education, and although I would enjoy getting into a life of academia, I feel like I am (hopefully) making some kind of impact on the unit with new nurses. I am grateful for those “older nurses” that whipped me into shape and held me accountable for the care of human beings. I believe that nursing all goes back to caring for people the way that you would want your loved one cared for and I hope that those caring nurses will be available for myself & my family in the future. I guess my nursing mantra is: “Please keep me clean & dry, don’t waste valuable supplies, and pick up after yourself in my depressing hospital room ;).”
How do you feel your work/life balance is?
The longer I have been a nurse, the more I realize that my days off need to be time to rejuvenate myself & to enjoy my hobbies of reading & gardening. During two intense years of caring for unbelievably ill COVID-19 patients, I learned that naps on my days off were a necessity & that time with family/friends is precious. I could definitely use more time off to work on projects at home and to travel, but until I get my last child through school, those plans will have to wait!
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