Nursing is at the center of daily hospital life. The nursing station acts as the hub where all things come and go and the nurse acts as the conductor. In a twelve hour shift a nurse is tasked with questions from the patient, patient’s family, nursing assistants, doctors, specialists-in no particular order and sometimes all at once. The following is just a glimpse into daily life as a nurse.
A nurse’s job is one of investigation. As soon as one patient leaves, another fills his or her spot. A nurse is expected to quickly replace the previous patient’s history with a new history and look for any red flags. Why is this patient suddenly having a dip in blood pressure? What has happened in the last few hours that could have caused this? Was it a medication? Is the patient bleeding somewhere?
It is the nurse’s job to decipher any changes in patient status and report to the doctor accordingly. Through the years one learns to trust one’s instincts and know when to observe or when to react. It is always better to error on the side of caution. When in doubt, report.
While it is ultimately the doctor’s responsibility to know of any interactions when prescribing medications, the nurse is responsible for not only knowing as well, but catching any mistakes the doctor might make. This is one of many ways the nurse acts as the eyes and ears of the doctor.
Nurses take on the role of house keeper as well. Cleanliness at the bedside is as important as any other part of a patient’s care. It is never below a nurse’s job description to empty a trash can or wipe down the patient’s area.
Nurses spend sometimes an incredible amount of time on the phone. It pulls him or her in many directions. The caller has no idea that the nurse is in the middle of a sterile dressing change. The phone knows no break time, it only expects an able and willing receiver on the opposite end.
Perhaps one of the nurse’s most important roles is that of comforter. Comfort comes in the form of searching for an extra pillow, answering any and all questions the patient or patient’s family has, and being the compassionate representative that he or she vowed to be when pinned upon graduation.
A nurse’s job is never really done. Even after clocking out, we act as a representative for our profession. Representation can come through answering health related questions from friends or family. It can also be through volunteering one’s free time in public clinics, marching for nursing and patient rights, or through time spent on medical missions. What other profession sees its professionals spending their own money and vacation time to help those in need? For all these reasons, nursing is a calling, not just a profession.
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.