The Other Side of the Call Bell

Posted under: family, health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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I work as a nursing unit secretary in both the intensive care and the step-down cardiology units at the hospital. I think I’m more cynical than I used to be. It’s easy to become complacent, and even judgmental toward patients. During one of my shifts an obese patient requested donuts, cookies and pie. Even if we did stock those items in the cardiology unit, I would not have given them to him. After receiving chest compressions and a defibrillator treatment in CICU, a patient sat up and asked for a cigarette. One night we had a patient suffering from alcohol withdrawals and undergoing detoxification. He kept yelling at everyone to get out of his house, and I had to call security when he jumped out of bed and threatened the nurses. Two rooms over another patient was constantly yelling…all night. She would scream “I want to go to sleep!” and “I want my meds!” After the nurse gave her some, she screamed “That ain’t enough!” Do these patients realize why they were admitted in the first place? I would like to say to them, “You brought this on yourself. I have no sympathy.” Nurse_BettyBoop

I answer the call bell when patients ring out. Patients push a button in their room which rings a box on my desk. I pick up the receiver and ask them what they need, then respond appropriately. It is often frustrating when the same few patients ring out constantly for seemingly trivial matters, monopolizing the time and attention of the RNs and CNAs. As often as I can, I try to help the patients myself rather than to call for the CNAs or nurses. I’ve noticed that the more I interact personally with the patients, the more compassionate and empathetic I feel toward them, and the more eager I am to help them. I understand how a nurse can develop a special bond with his/her patients. When the nurse takes on the responsibility of certain patients, he/she is accountable for them, takes ownership, and forms a connection with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) May 21 2013


What I Learned in Nursing School

Posted under: education, health, nursing, philosophy, school.
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I made it! Today I graduate from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. It is time to begin vigorously studying for the NCLEX and to find a job. There are so many things that have interested me. Now that I have finished my clinicals I am most drawn toward mental health and neurology.

One of the biggest challenges with nursing is connecting everything together. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the minutiae and consequently missing out on the big picture or other significant details. Throughout nursing school we have been assured that with time and experience, we will move from being task-oriented and routine-focused to seeing everything as an interconnected, fluid process, and being able to anticipate and manage rapidly changing non-routine events. I feel that I’ve gained extensive knowledge and learned valuable skills throughout my lectures and labs. However, until interacting with actual patients in a real clinical environment, I could not fully understand, appreciate, and apply all those concepts. My clinicals significantly increased my understanding and have hopefully prepared me for the complexities of nursing practice. I have included some excerpts from my journals of my various clinicals throughout the nursing program:
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Comments (6) May 06 2012


Open Heart Surgery

Posted under: school.
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Me in my operating room attire

Me in my operating room attire

As part of my med-surg clinical this semester I had the opportunity to watch a surgery in the operating room. This OR (operating room) observation day replaces my regular clinical that week. Today was my OR day. I was thrilled when I learned that I would be observing open heart surgery–more specifically, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). It seemed appropriate, as I am a nursing unit secretary in the cardiology unit and we are often sending patients down for this procedure. I was excited to witness this complicated and invasive operation.

In a CABG, arteries or veins from elsewhere in the patient’s body are used to graft to the coronary arteries to bypass atherosclerotic narrowings and improve the blood supply to the coronary circulation supplying the myocardium (heart muscle). I watched the PA (physician assistant) cut open the patient’s legs and use a scope to locate and harvest the veins that would be used for grafting. Meanwhile, the cardiothoracic surgeon made an incision in the patient’s chest, cut apart his sternum (breast bone) with a saw, and proceeded to dissect the internal mammary artery from the chest wall to use as a bypass conduit. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5) Mar 30 2011


A New Direction

Posted under: school.
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I wasn’t accepted into the nursing program at USM. The number of nursing applicants is increasing substantially everywhere. The academic advisor of nursing at USM informed me that the program is highly competitive; they only accepted 90 applicants for this year. Many were already matriculated, which gave them an edge. She said that the applicants who had already taken many of the courses required in the nursing program also had an advantage. Finally, my 4.0 GPA from last semester probably did not bring up my GPA from Ricks College (now BYU Idaho) quite enough. I’ll always regret that I was so lackadaisical back then. I expect to have a 4.0 again for this past semester, which will boost my GPA for the future.

The news disappointed me, of course. But as it prompted me to consider different options, I saw it as an opportunity to pursue a career in science and research. This is something with which I’ve always been fascinated. Sure, I could see myself as a nurse, making good money and having job opportunities everywhere; however I don’t think I would be truly happy. I could be passionate about science and research, and that is ultimately more fulfilling.

I will probably pursue an undergraduate degree in biology. I am interested in toxicology and pathology (possibly with a forensics focus), marine biology, oceanography, and geology. Brent has been incredibly supportive. I appreciate his love and encouragement, and I know he just wants me to be happy. He is especially excited about marine biology. However, he warned me that if I go into pathology and work in a morgue he will NOT come visit me for lunch. :-)

OK, so I need to narrow it down a bit, but I’m excited to go after my dream.

Comments (0) May 10 2009