ICU yuck

  1. So I was interested in going back to school to pursue nursing...get my RN then maybe eventually my NP. I got a job as a Patient Care Tech at one of my local hospitals 2 months ago in the ICU. I am not a very big fan of this job. It is gross and depressing and I am dealing with death/dead bodies left and right. It is not at all what I want. It has actually discouraged me from nursing. I am so not into geriatrics or wiping old peoples asses to be blunt! I have always been interested in healthcare and the helping professions and especially children. My first degree was in teaching. Maybe this is just not the right setting for me? Maybe it is the duties of the Patient Care Tech that are disenchanting to me and not the duties of a nurse. Any advise? Should I try another setting before I make my decision? I know the settings and careers an RN can have are limitless, which is one thing keeping me interested.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Biffbradford
    Cleaning poo is just one part of the spectrum, but unavoidable. Just do it and move on with things. ICU nursing is a slap in the face. You must confront reality of the real world and people dying is very real. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and if being a nurse isn't for you, that's okay.

    However, the money is -pretty good- and the work is steady. Sometimes it takes a few moves to different units to find one that you feel most comfortable in.

    Personally, if I had to teach people about eating right, exercising, taking their medicine properly day after day, I would go nutz.

    Good luck!
  4. by   jkr2020788
    Well there are definitely ways to go around the poop. You could be a surgical nurse, they rarely if ever deal with poop. also PACU rarely sees it, considering bowels usually move slow after surgery. Another less common place is in the ER. You get it every now and then, but its not inevitable like on the floor or ICU. The techs in the ER usually are pretty good about cleaning it up though. (thank god for their work.....) in er though, you do see alot of blood and fluids, and there are a significant amount of old people. It doesnt happen too often but in ER you also get that once in a blue moon mean/ or psych pt. Like last night I had a pt that just pulled his member out and started peeing all over the floor on purpose. It didnt take much because housecleaning cleaned it, but it still happens.

    As far as NP school I think they like you to have been in ER, ICU, or med/surg. So really it would be unavoidable at some point to not come intact with poop. Though if its something you dont mind doing every now and then, Id look into ER.
  5. by   detroitdano
    Poop is awesome. Some of my best nursing stories involve poop. Most awesome story to date was when we were putting a freshly deceased patient into a body bag and his rectal trumpet got pulled out. A nurse was standing at the end of the bed and she got one tiny bit of poop on her, but on either side of her head on the curtain behind her was massive globs of melena. Talk about lucky!

    That said, poop IS a reality of any patient care job. ER tends to just let people poop and have it solidify to their bodies, so I guess if you don't want to clean it, work there. Inpatient units, you're always going to deal with poop. You could do OB/gyn. They poop, but for the most part are ambulatory and can take care of it themselves.
  6. by   montinurse
    Yes, there will always be poop. Once you're a nurse, you'll have MANY other things (all at once) to occupy your mind in your 12 hour shift. I promise you won't give the poop a second thought. As for death and dying, that's just part of life, there will always be negatives to every job. As a nurse in the ICU, I find it very frustrating at times. But the extremely rewarding days supercede all the bad ones. You will have many unexpected issues as a nurse. You just learn to deal and enjoy it, one shift at a time. Good luck with your decisions.
  7. by   stopthepenguins6
    I've been a tech for three years, and I start my first RN job (ICU, panic!) next week. I can tell you from personal experience (I've worked LTC and orthopedics in those three years, so geriatric is a huge part of it) that you get used to poop. When I went into healthcare, I started as a tech to make sure I could handle it. The thought of cleaning up poop and wiping someone else's bottom grossed me out, but I said "I can do this" and I did. While I certainly didn't enjoy it, after a few months, it just became part of the job and no longer bothered me. However, if poop is a make-or-break for you, how about you look into something like postpartum? Your mothers will, for the most part, be up and taking care of their own bodily functions, if you catch my drift, and though you'll have to assess that area, you probably won't have to wipe as many butts, as you put it . You may have to wipe some tiny butts, but they are so much cuter when they're only a day old.

    As far as the death and dying goes, that is a part of life, and you'll have a hard time getting away from it. There will be areas where you will see less of it, or see it very rarely, or may have to deal with families less when it happens, but I can't think of any areas that are death-proof, so to speak.

    So that's my advice: go somewhere like pediatrics or postpartum. There's no shame in admitting an area isn't for you. I started out in nursing school thinking I would go pediatrics, and came out of it going "omg, I will NEVER go pediatrics." But that's the wonderful thing about nursing: there are so many different areas that you can go. Look into a transfer, and don't let wiping butts discourage you! Best of luck!
  8. by   MomRN0913
    Poop is not for everyone. At least you admit it.

    How about research?
  9. by   daisy2daisy
    Quote from ginaw623
    So I was interested in going back to school to pursue nursing...get my RN then maybe eventually my NP. I got a job as a Patient Care Tech at one of my local hospitals 2 months ago in the ICU. I am not a very big fan of this job. It is gross and depressing and I am dealing with death/dead bodies left and right. It is not at all what I want. It has actually discouraged me from nursing. I am so not into geriatrics or wiping old peoples asses to be blunt! I have always been interested in healthcare and the helping professions and especially children. My first degree was in teaching. Maybe this is just not the right setting for me? Maybe it is the duties of the Patient Care Tech that are disenchanting to me and not the duties of a nurse. Any advise? Should I try another setting before I make my decision? I know the settings and careers an RN can have are limitless, which is one thing keeping me interested.
    Please go into info tech rather than bedside nursing! All I ever do ( ! ) is wipe, clean, wipe, clean. The stench is so bad even after 16 yrs, I gag! Especially the explosive diarrheas, the gross soup bowls between the legs that only a Yankeur suction could handle, but the worse case?? It's when a patient who is totally capable of wiping their a$$ would ask a perfect stranger to do that for them!
  10. by   NewbieNurse78
    If wiping butts and dealing with death is not your cup of tea than I don't suggest nursing. Many girls in my nursing class always said they couldn't wait to get away from that and guess what, you don't and guess what...they aren't nurses anymore. Some people say go into peds, but here is the honest truth. Babies poop and babies die and some people find that WAY more traumatic and depressing.

    Look in hospitals people are severely sick and there is a lot of death around, that being said if you really think nursing IS for you there are other things you could do like School Nurse or Rehab. A friend of mine burned out in a hospital really fast but LOVES the rehab center she works at now. You may also want to think about other roles on healthcare like Ultrasound or Imaging technology or Respiratory Therapy, many of these are great rewarding careers. Sounds like you need to take a step back and investigate other roads though, perhaps you can ask to be floated to other units to get a feel for what other specialties are like. Who knows you may really like the vibe of an ED or MedSurg better. Remember that the healthcare field is pretty huge so look around and don't feel tied to nursing in the traditional sense, but it IS important to be totally honest with yourself in what you can and can't deal with.
  11. by   Circejane
    Quote from NewbieNurse78
    If wiping butts and dealing with death is not your cup of tea than I don't suggest nursing. Many girls in my nursing class always said they couldn't wait to get away from that and guess what, you don't and guess what...they aren't nurses anymore. Some people say go into peds, but here is the honest truth. Babies poop and babies die and some people find that WAY more traumatic and depressing.

    Look in hospitals people are severely sick and there is a lot of death around, that being said if you really think nursing IS for you there are other things you could do like School Nurse or Rehab. A friend of mine burned out in a hospital really fast but LOVES the rehab center she works at now. You may also want to think about other roles on healthcare like Ultrasound or Imaging technology or Respiratory Therapy, many of these are great rewarding careers. Sounds like you need to take a step back and investigate other roads though, perhaps you can ask to be floated to other units to get a feel for what other specialties are like. Who knows you may really like the vibe of an ED or MedSurg better. Remember that the healthcare field is pretty huge so look around and don't feel tied to nursing in the traditional sense, but it IS important to be totally honest with yourself in what you can and can't deal with.
    This.

    Please look into fields other than nursing. My nurse friends and I have a saying: If we ran the world, everyone who wants to go to nursing school should have to work at least 6 months as a CNA first. Not only does it make one proficient at the most basic levels of patient care, but it makes sure that every nurse has an appreciation for what their aides/techs do. It also weeds out the very nice and caring people who are just not happy with the less glamorous side of nursing. Just my .
  12. by   Good Morning, Gil
    "ER tends to just let people poop and have it solidify to their bodies." lol, so true, detroitdano.

    I don't know how many times I have received a patient from the ER, and the poop was just caked on. However, I have never worked in the ER, so their job is very different from ours. Their patient ratios far outweigh ours, and they can get slammed with many patients at once, and so even though we may have a very tough night sometimes with 2 patients, at least we have a cap and only have 2 patients. They also have to leave their patients to transport their patients to us, so there's time lost there, too.

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