Monday, December 7, 2009

And on the Third Day...

seeing that one of the "perks" of inpatient nursing is the "work only three days a week" bit (although i haven't seen much of those at all. for example, this week i'm working 5 days, and two of them are this weekend) i thought it would be semi-appropriate to give some first impressions of what i think of my job on my third 12-hour shift of my career (creepy when you put it that way). it's important to note that i am of course referring to the "being able to take care of patients" part and not the "i'm 'working from home' but really getting paid to dick around on the internet and gchat with my sister" (one of the things i miss most about working) part.

i feel as though i am familiar with yet entirely a stranger to this floor all at once. i had the pleasure (misfortune? sometimes it feels like both) of doing a 2 month internship on this floor but under extremely different circumstances. 1) i was a student so i could do whatever i want and not feel responsible (ah youth) but still feel pretty much like a rockstar, 2) i worked nights, which is way more chill, but also more tiring in the mess-up-your-sleep-cycle-and-circaidian-rhythms kind of way, 3) i had the BEST preceptor in the world (not to say i don't love mine now but... more to come on that) and 4) i had a lot of friends doing the same internship with me that i could have "lunch" with at 2 am--and i miss them a lot.

working days is much more exhausting in the sense that there is a lot of noise, a lot of busy activity and a lot more distractions keeping you from doing your work. NYP being a teaching hospital means that they emphasize a lot of preceptorship and learning from seeing and touching, but it also means that these poor sick people are being seen and touched and poked and prodded by a lot of different kinds of people. (imagine, if you will: "sorry mrs. xyz, but we're going to have to take a look down there one more time. do you mind if we touch it? someone get gloves!")

it's also exhausting not just because there's so much i don't know (duh, that's a given) but it's because i feel like i'm wrong most of the time. and i love being right. always. at the end of the day there is a too-long list of what i could have, should have, would have done better, but i guess this is part of the learning process. i'm not sure what i was expecting: get a job (finally), and then... instantly be awesome as a nurse? sometimes i wonder about my delusions of grandeur...

then there's my preceptor. to understand her, first you have to understand that there are hella filipino nurses in new york. i thought this was a country wide thing, but other health care provider friends have informed me that this is actually a new york-and-california-only phenomenon. i've said this before and it deserves repeating: in a community like wash heights, tagalog rivaling spanish for more prolific language is no mean feat. my preceptor is one such filipino nurse. she has been one forever (both filipino and a nurse, in case you're wondering) and i think most of the nurses who still work on the floor have been precepted by her at one point or another. she's brilliant and knows a lot. but sometimes she's so absent minded, i swear she's spoken to me in tagalog before. and we all know how sensitive i am about my filipino status (second, i think, only to that silly running joke about how i'm really from canadia). but i'm learning a lot from her, so i can't really complain. what i can complain about is that my dreams (aside from that one weird dream last week i had where i dreamt in smells and the predominant smell was... fried chicken. and pie. sometimes God is so good to me!) that have dialog are now mostly narrated with a filipino accent. and even worse--i can't reproduce it in real life so people have no idea what i'm talking about.

aside from the busy-ness of everything and that ever-constant fear that i will indeed one day commit some kind of medication error that will cause someone to bleed out and die, there are so many funny things that make this worth it that i will now share with you in my favorite bulleted format:

-you know that when there are no more urinals (plastic bottles for men to pee in, basically--if you need a visual, i think i could reproduce a rough picture. also i wish that there was some female equivalent to a urinal. bedpans are way too messy and plus make it hard to avoid the icky wet-ass feeling.) in the stock room, you have hit rock bottom and will most likely not be able to find anything else in terms of supplies. that's why when i see the urinal section filled with row after glorious row of plastic urinals lined up neatly. then i know that i can find ANYTHING!

-green and pink are by far my new favorite colors--they're zones on the far end of the floor which means less moving and running around on my part.

-my second day i had an obese patient that demanded i find him a lunch tray. "and make sure it has cheese!" 1) because this is totally a restaurant and 2) because you absolutely need more cheese in your diet.

-my first day i had a patient who felt completely comfortable taking off her underwear in front of me. this goes along with other people's comfort level in showing me various body parts, asking me to take a look at wayward toes or suspicious looking moles in places that i would never otherwise see unless i had "RN" attached to the end of my name. TMI is TMI, people. it doesn't matter what i do for a living. at least this lady was in a hospital. keep your wayward body parts to yourselves.

-to be fair though, i've found that i'm much more comfortable touching people in ways or asking people questions that i probably would get, in the very least, yelled at. please don't ask me to elaborate on this.

-i feel an odd power-trip kind of high when i dispense controlled substances (pain meds, narcotics, sedatives, etc).

-i have quickly learned to not tell my patients that i'm a "new nurse" because the next question to come is inevitably, "so... do you have like, all your certifications and stuff?"

-i'm not sure why so many patients are okay with going commando (note to self: if i'm ever hospitalized, i will always make sure that there is underwear, even if someone who, in normal circumstances i would be mortified to have them going through my underwear drawer, has to do so to bring some for me) but my preceptor always tells patients as she frantically tries to cover their bare asses and balls* "we can't be giving free shows! where am i going to get my money from if you do this for free?" maybe you'd think it was more funny if you imagined it in a filipino accent.

-i've made friends with this pharmacist, katherine, who takes her lunch break around the same time i do. she hides in our staff room because we have cable and we watch the vegetarian cooking show on PBS together. she's basically a little korean cartoon character (i may or may not frequently engage her in conversation because her accent is so funny), and today we found out we both go to redeemer. huh.

anyways, i hesitated in posting this since for the greater part of the summer, i not only mostly resented my friends who had the fortune of finding employment before me, but detested them even more when they would post vague references to their seemingly now glamorous nurse-y employed lifestyles. my hope is that this isn't seen as an attempt to make myself seem awesome but a humorous take on an aspect of life and that there was just the right amount of self-deprecation to temper that resentment (if it does indeed exist. but i'm starting to realize that maybe not everyone is as hateful a queen as i am.)

*ah yes, man bits at the hospital. an entirely different entry altogether, i think

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