Where I Need To Be
I work on a large acute care pediatric unit, and have come to love the kids, the families and my coworkers. Lately, though, an old friend of mine has been on the unit as part of her 3rd year med school surgery rotation. And it has been weird for me. What happened here? How did I end up the one changing diapers and measuring urine?
I know I compare myself to her, and compare our roles in the healthcare system. I sometimes feel like she sees medicine as being superior to nursing, but maybe it's me doing it too?
It shouldn't bother me so much, to see this person I have been such good friends with learning and advancing and giving her all to a career that is no doubt a challenging and noble one. But lately, it has.
It's strange for me to see this old friend of mine - this peer, this equal - round with the doctors on MY kids, my N., my R., my A. and my J., to ask me how they've done overnight, how their intake and output has been, and whether or not I got those labs drawn. Sometimes, at times like this, I look at the physicians rounding and just stop and think. What happened here? How did I end up the one changing diapers and measuring urine?
In thinking about this, I realized I need merely to consider at what I do on a daily basis. I love the kids and families I care for, and love my role in educating them and helping to make awful situations better. I think it's that I wish everybody else knew how hard my job is, and how hard I try, and how much effort and time and learning goes into it.
Maybe it's because I'm so angry lately at the medical shows on TV - constantly putting down the nurses and demeaning the profession as whole. To me, nursing is.. a bit of a strange profession.
I educate people on conditions and diseases, central lines, Insulin administration, glucose control, pain meds, lab values, home equipment, oxygen, how to feed their babies who have G-tubes and NG's and need TPN/IL. I teach them how to tell if their child with cancer has neutropenia or is septic, how to tell if their post-op kid is losing circulation to their feet, how to care for external fixators, how to change the dressing under a Halo vest, how they need to stick a needle in their child every day so that their white blood cell counts rise, etc. etc. I draw labs, place feeding tubes, give chemotherapy, antibiotics, immune globulins, blood, clotting factors and dialysis, feed babies (PO? NG? G-tube? IV?), hug parents, cuddle abused children, bolus septic children, change dressings, dress burns, give pain meds & narcotics (and narcan and O2 when their respiratory drive declines), and cry with mothers at funerals.
I take care of kids with sickle cell pain crises, with cancer, with trachs, with failing kidneys, with spinal and neuro trauma, with congenital heart disease and genetic defects (Down's, Dandy-Walker, even Progeria, for goodness sake). I work with kids who are post-op, who have asthma and CF, who have MR/CP (and usually the greatest parents in the world...), who have short gut, ostomies, and brand new transplanted organs.
I give my opinions on their conditions and what they might need, and work with doctors, PT, OT, SW, speech, home health, pharmacy, the clinics, storeroom, dietary, radiology, surgery etc. etc. to get what these kids need. As I tell them, it's my job to make sure they are well taken care of, comfortable and getting better. I think I work with the kids that we don't usually think about on a day to day basis. I am teacher, healthcare provider, waitress and maid rolled into one. And it might just be the best job ever.
But I also change beds & diapers, bathe patients, measure everything going in & out [aka doing the dirty work], carry out orders, be the intermediary who gets anger and frustration taken out upon.. and I spend lots of time "alerting MD's" to various facts. What an interesting contradiction.
J. is a little boy who has practically grown up on the unit I work on. He has been in and out for as long as anybody can remember with an assortment of pretty severe GI issues, and he never has any family with him. Every couple of months he comes back in with an infected central line and some degree of septic shock, and we all worry.
I might want to be an NP one day, or maybe change careers entirely. Time will tell. For now, though, I think it's enough that on March 12th, 2008, I had little J. feeling well enough to come out of his room to dance and sing with all the staff at the nurses station. And as I carried him back to his bed, I smiled as he repeated back to me that he is the best J. in the whole wide world. This is exactly where I need to be.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 10, '15
May 15, '08Hi. I just wanted to share this with you. My son who is almost 2 was born 11 weeks premature. He spent the first six weeks of his life between a level 3 NICU and a level 2 Special Care Nursery. As you can imagine I too spent the first 6 weeks of his life in the hospital as well. While we were there, it wasn't very often that I ever saw a Doc or a resident unless I just happened to catch them during morning rounds. As a matter of fact, when we were transfered to the special care nursery I never once saw a Doc. It was the nurses who were caring for my child, it was the nurses who were keeping myself and my husband informed about his condition and his progress, it was the nurses who were educating us on how to care for our tiny little baby. It was the nurses that I so quickly gained so much respect for, and it was the nurses who inspired me to go to nursing school. I am starting in August. So what I am trying to say is that you should never look down on yourself for being "just" a nurse because your roll in the hospital is so important and so demanding. You worked very hard to be where you are today and you should be proud. The Docs may have "control" or the "say" and give the orders, but it is the nurses who are there to carry out those orders. I'm surely not trying to bash doctors in any way, but were would they be without their nurses?May 17, '08You are infact practicing the most important profession in the world. You are doing it in a way that is inspiring to others and fulfilling for you. I love this article.May 17, '08hI! i'M also a pediatric nurse for 13 years and I know exactly what u feel and how happy u are with your work. It's a very tiring but fulfilling job. Sometimes u really feel frustrated when despite of what you did, some people won't even say a simple "thank you", anyway dead unseen by men will be aknowledge in heaven. God bless u!May 19, '08One must be careful to not derive a sense of self worth from "what we do". What we do is a reflection of who we are, not the determinant of same. A nurse who does his/her best every day is worth far more than a doctor who does his/her worst. And not because of what was done, but because of the morality, or lack thereof, involved in the act. I understand your feelings, because my sister is a doctor.....she is only worth more than I when she commits a greater part of herself to assist her patients than I do.....I never have to worry about how much effort I am putting forth, because I know myself. Keep nursing, and more importantly, keep offering your best.May 20, '08God bless you and the work you do. Not just anyone can do the work of taking care of ill children and you (and everyone else that has the heart to do it) should be applauded. I hope all goes well and I hope that you can take so much pride in what you are doing!May 20, '08I wish there was in fact a show about nurses ONLY! All the shows now a days are about the MD'S and this and that but never the RN's. Hopefully they will ALL come to appreciate the true profession of a RN, LPN.May 25, '08What a wonderful article....I absolutely applaud you and the work that you do...I can imagine the pain, anguish, frustration, and joy that you see....to know that you are there taking care of those children with such a wonderful heart somehow gives me comfort...and how comforting you must be for the children and parents...
WOW!!! You keep going and be so proud of what YOU do....May 29, '08That was a really good article. I don't think nurses get the credit they deserve. You should be very proud of yourself and your career because you've chosed a darn good one. Believe it or not, but there are many who want to be in your shoes. When I had my son, the nurses did all the work. The doctor came in at the last minute. My son had to stay in the hospital for jandice and I seen the doctor one time. It was the nurses that cared for my son. The nurses were the ones who educated me and my son's father on his condition and progress. I think nurses should make almost the same amount as doctors. Nurses really help people a lot and that's why I am going to nursing school.May 29, '08I just want to say that you should be very proud of yourself and your career because you've chosed a darn good one. Believe it or not, but there are many people who want to be in your shoes. Nurses don't get the credit and recommendation that they should. When I had my son, the nurses did all the work. The doctor came in at the last minute. My son had to stay in the hospital for jandice. While we were there, I seen the doctor once. The nurses were the ones who cared for my son. They were the ones who educated me and my son's father on his condition and progress. I think the nurses should make just as much as doctors. Nurses help many people and that's why Im going to nursing school.Last edit by meyun06 on May 29, '08May 29, '08Quote from meyun06AMEN TO THAT SISTER!I just want to say that you should be very proud of yourself and your career because you've chosed a darn good one. Believe it or not, but there are many people who want to be in your shoes. Nurses don't get the credit and recommendation that they should. When I had my son, the nurses did all the work. The doctor came in at the last minute. My son had to stay in the hospital for jandice. While we were there, I seen the doctor once. The nurses were the ones who cared for my son. They were the ones who educated me and my son's father on his condition and progress. I think the nurses should make just as much as doctors. Nurses help many people and that's why Im going to nursing school.Jun 4, '08Wonderful article! God bless you for what you are doing! At times when you feel doubtful, remember that you a special and irreplaceable part of the healthcare team. You are where you are at for a reason! :heartbeatAug 20, '08I really like the article to me our work as a nurse is a God given gift and talent so keep it up.
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