Is Burn Nursing for me?

  1. Can anyone provide a day in the life scenario so I can get a better idea. I have a little over one year in the ER and thinking about a career change to Burn. I always thought I wanted to go into Burn nursing but never sure. I have had burn pt's before and really want them as my pt's. If I hear one coming in on the radio then I ask the charge to put me on that one. I have done some debridement on children and adults(i.e. one pt was a vented infant with 2nd and 3rd degree scald burns and another was an adult female with a 2nd degree scald burn to her hand) I have debrided both of those pt's and applied some dressings. The actual burn unit is another thing. What are the most common meds used? Most pt's vented or is it a variety? What is the nurse-pt ratio?

    Any experiences or input is really appreciated! Thank you. Thank you!!!
  2. Visit 1431 profile page

    About 1431

    Joined: Mar '04; Posts: 3


  3. by   gwenith
    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you - we got distracted talking about the Steven Johnson Case.

    Yes! Please - go into burns it is challenging and rewarding nursing. So many nurses see only the "biggies" i.e. ER, ICU, Paeds as endpoints to thier careers few see burns as desirable and that is sad.

    Burns is like Neuro the quality of the nursing skill makes a huge and direct impact on the patients outcome.

    In nearly every other field you spend your time wondering whether or not you are making a difference and not just following orders - in burns you KNOW you are making a difference - it is directly visible.

    Burns nurses love thier work and rightly so.
  4. by   1431
    Thank you, your reply was very encouraging. I have to admit, the nurses on the burn unit are so knowledgable it is intimidating.

    Is there a typical personality to the burn units? What is an average shift like? In the ER there seem to be certain personalities that are the majority, what are most burn nurses personalities at work like? Any interview questions specific to a burn nurse interview that I can anticipate?

    Thanks in advance!
  5. by   gwenith
    Most of my experience was with Burn ICU so the ICU portion of the personality sort of overrode the burns side if you know what I mean.

    Burns though does require quite a lot of psychological support and counselling. A good proportion of your patients can be self-immolation/suicides so there is often an underlying psychiatric problem as well. It takes special people.

    If you are interested check out some of the links on the sticky at the top of this forum - they might give you some insight.
  6. by   clgmezzo
    An average day in a burn unit depends on your function for the day, burn patients have surgery frequently, so if you are directly caring for a large burn most of your day can be tied up in preparing for your pt to go to OR, getting ready before they get back, and getting everything back together once they get back. The basic care of a minor burn inpatient is almost like a surgical floor pt, there are irrigations, and other daily care things, meds, meals, that kind of thing. We have a "tub team" each day, this is a group of folks that do only dressings until they are done for the day. It can take 5 people plus an RT for a big big burn, or as little as a tech for a minor minor one. Normally there is a concious sedation nurse, (RN) and either other nurses or other nurses and a burn tech or 2 doing the dressings. The nurse performing concious sedation should be focused on that, her job is the Patients safety and comfort during a rather painful procedure. All the nurses in the unit are qualified to do either job for the day depending on what they would like to do, if they need a break from one part they having been doing for a few days, or what the unit needs are. I like burn nursing because of the variety. We get pts who have a burn injury as a primary problem regardless of other medical conditions, head trauma, anything. So you could have a critcal ICU type pt. We have regular recooperating folks, people who are recovering from some reconstructive surgery, outpatients, and we traige our own pts, so there is a bit of an ER flavor as well. Also soince we take all agees i can work with a 2 wk old or a 90 yr old. the variety is amazing!!
  7. by   Goodie
    I just came from the ABA in Vancouver and if you are interested in burn nursing you should talk to the unit manager. Burns are not for everyone and until you see a big burn 50-90% on a regular basis you will not know. With burn nursing you either love it or hate it....there is no inbetween! If I were you I would arrange to do a few shadow shifts to see first. It all depends on what the burn unit in your area deals with: is it ICU/Burns? or does it not contain its own ICU. It is a hard job, you cause pain and you see people struggle everyday but if you can get through that is is a very rewarding job. Hope this helps.
  8. by   Goodie
    One you like to pick?
  9. by   clgmezzo
    were you asking me goodie . .?
    yeh, i like big burn ICU patients or dressing and tub team the best
  10. by   1431
    I did like picking!!!!!!! And I liked applying the dressings. I am sure they were not anything especially fancy but I cared so much, I cared that I was doing it 100% right, that I had the right amount of Silvadene on, that I used the proper length of dressing,etc. I was in my own world and I spent alot of time to do this. None of the other nurses cared how long I took, this pt was a 1:1 and nobody wanted the burn pt...I requested the pt!

    Is there time to take such great care?
    Are burn nurses less Type A/competitive than the ER or is it just the same all over??

    Thanks a bunch, you all!!!!!!
  11. by   clgmezzo
    burn nurses love to pick!!!! we pick dead skin all day long, lol, kind of like peeling a family member sun burn only on a different scale i guess!! Many type A's but since it takes a wierd sense of humor its not too bad here, we all get along really well.
    Our dressing team works hard to ensure that each pt gets their dressings just right. I mean its so important that all the wound areas get covered, so we dont slack on the dressings, i like gooping with silva, or bacitracin, i like cutting them to get a good fit, i like putting them on, i like securing the net, its all good to me!!!
  12. by   OCCHCanada
    I worked the burn unit for 13 years and it is it's own little world. But the pt/rn ratio is 1:1 or 1:2. You really become the primary nurse and will see them from time of injury to discharge which can be weeks to months.

    It was the variety of people we saw that made it so interesting. Murderers, farmers, a lot of industrial (electrocution, tar burns, chemical), self-multilators, cooks, lightening strikes etc. Some of the best patients to deal with were the big burly bikers (we have several known bike gangs), burned while cooking drugs - they brought the best sense of caustic humor REQUIRED to cope with rigor of being a burn patient.

    They nurses were an excellent group to work with, probably the best crew ever. I would encourage anyone interested to at least try a year or two.
  13. by   renerian
    Yes picking is correct. I agree you love it or you hate it.