2020. The Year of the Nurse. As if...


A glimpse of the camaraderie, professionalism and science of Nursing
My inspiration for this post is not to praise my colleagues, although they deserve praise...
but rather to put the call out there for backup. 

I'm talking to the kind, organized, intelligent and compassionate people out there 
 to be the next generation of Nursing.

I'm talking to you.

So, here I am making masks for my friends who are on the front-lines of care during this COVID19 pandemic. 

Nurses in the ER, ICU and Screening Centers. I think of them. And how cool they are. How smart they are. How 'science-based' they are. I've been retired for a few years now and anticipate that there may be a high probability I will get back into the fray - should it be necessary.

The 'calm before the storm' in Dallas has got my head back into 'Nursing Mode' and my training to never quit and to anticipate worst-case scenarios has been revived.

Hence, the masks

Recently, our current Lieutenant-Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick implied that I would gladly give up my life for the US Economy... but I say- hold up there, Dan - not so fast. 
 I take good care of myself and I still have a little life left in me. 

Believing in science and knowing how expert Nurses, Doctors, Techs, Respiratory Therapists and all those in concert, encompassing a wide variety of healthcare disciplines, I'm confident that this virus will be managed safely and effectively with all hands on deck. 

That includes you, Dan. You are in a position that can help move mountains in this crisis. 
Be a Nurse, Dan. Don't be a Dick.
Anticipate worst-case scenarios and work your ass off to prevent them.

Awright... back to Nurse Recruitment...

Who knew that Nurses were not all about bed-baths and pill passing?

Beginning my Nursing career in Toronto, Canada and I became a 'Dialysis Nurse' at age 19. To say that I was scared shit-less would be an understatement. That year in Dialysis was one of great introspection and self-assessment. Not counted as one of the best Nurses in my unit, I had some growing to do but I realized that what I brought to the Nursing table was a passion for learning, and a profound degree of compassion and love for others.
Just a kid, really.
Nursing provided me an opportunity to travel. I made it to the USA from Canada and found myself  'Jones-ing' on 'Cardiac Medicine'. It was a 'Telemetry Unit' where I got a crash course in Organizational Skills, EKG Interpretation and Cardiac Resuscitation. Loved it!

Being young. I had a restless heart. The ER strangely soothed that restlessness. Hard to explain but there ya go.

Advised to be an ER Nurse by a Doc I had met while working in Cardiac Medicine, I loved it. It was exhausting, and difficult, and life-altering and taught me more than I can ever know about the fragility of life.  

Later in life, I anticipated (Hey, Dan) that the pace of ER Nursing might be a little much on my 50 year old body and decided to learn how to be an ICU Nurse. 

Back in the day, our CT scanner was a 0.5 mile trip each way from the ER. Multiple trips to/from CT included running all the way while pushing a stretcher loaded with a sick patient, monitors, defibrillators, IV pumps etc. Good News... since then, I hear things have improved as most ER's have their own CT Scanner in the department now! Yay you!

Although ICU Nursing was no picnic, it was physically hard work as well but you generally had a chance to get a cup of coffee before you took report from the off-going Nurse.
In the ER - this was not always an option as many times CPR/Traumas/Hemmorhagic Emergencies/Crazy/Stoned/Drunk People (the list goes on) required that you immediately step up.
ICU Nurses, et al
ER vs. ICU:
It seemed to me that in ER you relied on your super-keen observation skills & spidey-sense to anticipate if a patient was going to 'crump'. In the ICU? Everybody looks like they are about to 'crump' to begin with - so you have to rely on the numbers to help you prevent 'crumping'. Numbers? That's where it gets really interesting. ICU Nurses use high tech monitors to identify specific values of pressure, rate, volume etc. simultaneously in real time while administering care to their patients. But that's yet another post. Oh, and I was surprised at how 'thankful' families were in the ICU - the 'emergency' was now over and they had time to process what had happened to their loved one. Gifts of cookies, flowers, pizza abounded ...Sorry ER.

In Nursing...you have an instant 'peer-group': The friendships are real and lasting and many times profound. So many memories of the fun (and not-so-fun) times with my Nurse-friends. I could write another post on Nursing-friendships alone...but you get the idea.

At one point, I gave Nurse Management a whirl - it was not well suited to my personality - but is definitely the way to go for some great Nurses out there - I'm talking to you, Susan Rossow RN, Jody Phillips RN, Jessica Wilson RN, Jane Norris RN & Lillie Crain, RN ...to name just a few. I wish I could name them all but after 42 years... it's a lengthy list.

And I kid you not... I was an 'underachiever' in Nursing.

Nurses that I have been honored to work along-side throughout the years, are now...
  • Infection Control Nurses
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners: Some of their specialties include Emergency, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Trauma, Critical Care, Family Practice, Gerontology
  • CRNA's : Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists 
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists: Critical Care, Pediatrics, Nursing Education
  • Professors of Nursing
  • Case Managers: They assist patients, families, and the Health Care Team with determining future needs of the patient, prevention of 'issues' and identifying potential barriers to their progress.
  • School Nurses
  • SANE Nurses: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
  • Flight Nurses
  • OR and Recovery Room Nurses
  • Day Surgery Nurses
  • Plastic Surgery Nurses
  • Home Health Nurses
  • Nursing Entrepreneurs
  • Neonatal Nurses
  • Hospice Nurses
  • Palliative Care Nurses
  • Oncology Nurses
     So I'm writing this in anticipation that one day soon, we will need you. I will need you. 
ER Nurses, et al
Granted, Nursing is not for everyone. 

A good attitude about dealing with shit that you really don't want to do is necessary for Nursing. But Nursing as a career choice was the best choice for me and I'm here to say... if you think you might have what it takes... do it. If you already have a degree, it will take you about 2 more years (give or take) but that would be 2 years well spent. At the risk of sounding crass, the pay is good - starting around $65,000 in Texas for a new grad. (depending on your area) with health care benefits for you and your family, flexibility in hours and shifts, tons of specialties, incredible job-security and a lifetime of unbelievable experiences.

Any Questions? I'm here for you. 

And for my Nurse-Colleagues, the Techs, RT's, Docs, Unit Clerks out there... I know this is a scary time for you and your families. Please know that I love you, miss you, pray for your safety and thank you. But I also know that you are all over this and will help see us through this difficult time. 

2020. The Year of the Nurse. As if Flo planned it this way.

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Jodi Phillips said...

Thank you for this Joan. I always love reading your perspective and thank you for including me in such an esteemed group. Your continued support of our frontline colleagues is much needed, especially right now. Once a nurse...always a nurse. Love, Jodi