RNperdiem 27,218 Views
Joined: Dec 5, '06;
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14 year(s) of experience
There are a few coworkers in my department who regularly work overtime. For them 4-5 12-hour shifts a week are the norm. Once I asked the group why. The answer was because they were paying off student loans. One nurse has 3 college degrees and six figures in debt. The extra shift pay goes towards the debt.
We love our CNAs in surgery/trauma ICU. The techs here are crosstrained to cover unit secretary tasks, so when you are not helping the nurses, you are answering the phones, printing forms and ordering supplies.
In my ICU, CNAs do not do vital signs, empty foley bags or many of the things you mentioned; the nurses do those.
What keeps you busy is assisting the nurses with turning the patients every 2 hours, helping the nurses boost patients up in bed, helping with log-rolling patients on full-spine precautions, helping get people out of bed to the chair, helping turn and clean poop, helping slide patients on to the stretcher and pushing the stretcher to CT scan, MRI or wherever the test is.
The work is still pretty physical since almost all of our patients here are total care. The nurse is almost always assisting you.
Between the secretarial chores, and patient turning, our techs are also our equipment wranglers. If we need a rapid infuser or something like that, CNA knows were to find it. They keep our bedside supply carts stocked too.
In addition to all the good advice of the previous posters, put all of your self-care and coping methods to work.
My first year had me writing in my journal. Just getting my feelings on paper helped me sort things out.
Take care of yourself. Make good nutrition, enough sleep, sunshine, exercise, supportive people and other things that build you up a priority.
Nursing, especially in the first year, can deplete you fast, so take care of your needs so you can take care of others.
After report, I make assessments my first priority. If the workload is heavy, I will do some but not all of the first round of charting, even if it just vital signs and a few other bits of documentation. (I spend more time than ever charting on computer than I ever did with paper charting).
Timed meds are my next priority if no crises or big interruptions happen.
I feel I have reached a milestone in my day once all assessments are done and charted, all first rounds of meds are given, and the doctors have rounded and I have new orders for the shift.
Only after that point do I deal with things like changing lines, changing dressings etc.
Of course, why would you not?
An emergency is an emergency.
In surgery ICU, this has never been an issue in almost 20 years there. Usually moral\ ethical issues here have to deal with the end of life issues - something for you to think about as well.
Nursing school teaches a lot of theory these days. The practical education is more and more taken on by the hospital. The topics listed sound good to me.
A lot depends on the culture of your workplace. Some places have a supportive culture where people help each other. Other places are shark tanks where it is everyone for themselves, where people do try to take advantage of others, where a kind nature is dismissed as weak.
As long as you have good boundaries, you will do just fine.
Where I work, there are nurses who regularly work 48-60 hours a week. They have student loans to repay, or they were used to making more money at their old jobs.
If the census drops, overtime staff is the first called off, so this strategy only works in there is plenty of work to go around. Nurses are paid time and a half for overtime.
I am not sure about work paying for BSN. They do have tuition reimbursement, but it is hard to get hired in the first place without a BSN.
It sounds like you are at a crossroads of a sort and need to make a choice. Do you want nursing to be a job or a career?
If nursing is a job, family can come first, hours can be prn or part-time. You can resign and take time off after each baby and resume the job search. There are trade-offs to be made, of course. A stable second income is required too.
If nursing is a career, then you can make more money, advance to positions of more responsibility and get more of the jobs in high demand. A career requires more care and feeding, and full-time hours (and beyond sometimes) are expected.
PRN work on a weekend would give you flexibility while keeping you in nursing and making money.
Even if you only worked a weekend day every other weekend, that would be enough to keep up your skills for the time in the future when you go back full-time.
I love pens. My husband even has a pen collection. When we did paper charting, I used to try to find a pen with a very fine point and non-smearing black ink. Now that computer charting has taken over, I can write my notes on my brain sheet in any color. These days it is baby blue and hot pink.
I don't think I could make it through the shift without a pen.
The trouble with the conventional idea of job switching is that it is industry specific.
What applies in tech, does not necessarily work in nursing.
Individual goals in life differ too.
Inertia, comfort and ease are not always bad things. I live a very comfortable and easy life, so I have remained in a very satisfying job for almost 20 years.
The new grads who do well are confident enough to believe they can learn yet humble enough to be teachable.
New grads who project an attitude of knowing everything already and who cannot handle criticism are trouble.
I would recommend that a new grad find where the hospital's policy and procedure manual can be found; it will answer many of your questions and is a great reference guide.
I see an excellent opportunity for some physical fitness. Work out at home, take walks, visit parks. Getting out a little every day is a sanity saver if you are going to have a young child at home.
Also look around the house and see what projects have been neglected for lack of time.
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