How much "dirty work" have you encountered in nursing school

  1. 0
    I want to hear your stories how much have you seen in nursing schools. For a lot of you this was probably your first time experience so tell me what was going through your head. What made it less awkward and more comfortable for your patients

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  2. 21 Comments...

  3. 12
    Examples of "dirty work": burping a colostomy bag, irrigating a bladder, cleansing infected, foul-odored wounds, powdered infected skin folds, performed peri care, held back a foreskin while a nurse inserted a Foley, inserted Foleys, performed cervical checks, wrapped an edematous scrotum in a pillowcase, caring for a penis the patient had pulled a Foley out of, using my hands to get a nipple into a baby's mouth... The list goes on.
    Treat people with dignity and respect. Remember that you are caring for a human being with feelings and likely some sense of embarrassment regarding the care they cannot provide for themselves. Think about how you'd feel if you were them. This is someone's loved one- a dad, grandmother, daughter, best friend, respected member of their social circle. How would you want someone to treat your mom?
    Always provide privacy when performing these kinds of tasks. It doesn't take much effort to pull a curtain or close a door.
    That's really the kind of stuff that goes through my head. My focus is on making it as comfortable for the patient as possible, being efficient so they're exposed as little as possible, and doing what I can to keep their dignity intact. Be respectful.
    Last edit by RunBabyRN on Feb 2
  4. 7
    I don't think that a nurse call it "dirty worK'. It is providing comfort and care for the people we are caring for and it is part of our jobs.You will encounter it in school and on the job.
    kylee_adns, Michaela, RN, itsmejuli, and 4 others like this.
  5. 2
    Agree with both posts.

    I don't think the work I do is "dirty work"; I don't wen think I thought of it as such, either; I always thought is was "necessary".
    GrnTea and loriangel14 like this.
  6. 6
    Dirty work? A lot. What's going through my head? Keeping the patient comfortable and dignity intact. Everything else goes out the window usually.
    kylee_adns, Band Geek, GrnTea, and 3 others like this.
  7. 5
    Sometimes the only time you have to really TALK to your patients is when you're doing the 'dirty' work. Don't be afraid of the dirty work!
    nursel56, GrnTea, LadyFree28, and 2 others like this.
  8. 1
    Quote from dulcet
    I want to hear your stories how much have you seen in nursing schools. For a lot of you this was probably your first time experience so tell me what was going through your head. What made it less awkward and more comfortable for your patients
    I had been a Personal Support Worker for 8 years so I was completely comfortable when I started school.Even if you don't feel comfortable you need to try to be matter of fact about what you are doing.Many people are uncomfortable about needing help with personal are so you need to put them at ease. I try to just chat while I'm working away.It is hard sometimes but you have to try to not show it if you are uncomfortable with what you are dealing with.You don't want to embarrass your patient, even if you feel like gagging. I have learned to keep my expression neutral and to reassure the patients that apologize for the mess you are dealing with.I get a sense of satisfaction from helping someone go from uncomfortable and soiled to clean and comfortable. They are so grateful and it's a special interaction time with your patient.
    INN_777 likes this.
  9. 0
    There was and still is a lot of butt wiping, ostomy bag changes and assessments, wound assessment and care, emptying of bags/drains containing various bodily fluids. But, it is far more awkward for the patient than it is for me. I always try to minimize any awkwardness because if I treat them with respect and don't make a huge deal out of it a lot of times they calm down. That doesn't mean that its ok to let it all hang out or anything, but they can and do pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues.
  10. 2
    There's nothing wrong with calling it "dirty work" because that's what it is. Some jobs are just dirty. Only in nursing do some people think you're supposed to find nothing dirty about cleaning the diarrhea out of someone's bedsore.

    Doesn't mean you don't do a great job of providing that care and making the patient feel at ease, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Those of you who have (and will) post on this thread about how appalling it is for a nurse to call this dirty work need to step down off their high horse. Thaaanks.

    To OP: You'll encounter a lot or not at all, depends on where you work. You can do office or clinic work, or some specialties inside the hospital where you will rarely encounter dirty work. On the other hand, there are some areas where you will be doing it all day everyday. There's even RN administrative/chart work where you will obviously see none. I recommend putting something on your nose (mint oil works well) and thinking about something else while you work. Make sure the patient feels comfortable and if they apologize or seem embarrassed (which happens a lot) just smile and say it's no big deal you see it all the time. Really goes a long way to putting them at ease if you're at ease yourself.
    MissCris and Krzysztof like this.
  11. 8
    @futureeastcoastNP: They haven't been called "bedsores" for donkey's years. You may not have seen any of the recent journal or other professional references to pressure ulcers and their various manifestations, but it's ok to use correct terminology anywhere.

    As for the "dirty work" concept, nothing in the public's first thought about nursing annoys the living crap out of me more than the assumption that nurses are somehow soiled themselves by dealing in a matter-of-fact way with the human body, especially the excretory and reproductive bits.

    What is it with people, anyway? Their feces (or their babies' diapers) smell like roses? Their scrota are pictures of aesthetic beauty? Their urine never smells like asparagus? They have never vomited helplessly? They have never felt so lousy being sick in bed that they didn't shower for days and got a little rank? And what's with associating putting a nipple in a baby's mouth with "dirty"?

    I can't put it any more clearly: In the famous words of John XXIII when reviewing the blueprints for a new residence in the Vatican, "Sunt angeli?" "Are they angels?" The architect had forgotten ... bathrooms.

    Another famous phrase comes to mind: There but for the grace of God go I. You want to be a member of a helping profession, consider the human beings for whom you will be caring. They are all somebody's child, brother, wife, parent, lover. How dare you call it "dirty work"?
    Last edit by GrnTea on Feb 3
    OCNRN63, MissCris, Michaela, RN, and 5 others like this.

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