Day in the Life

  1. Hi folks!

    If anyone "remembers" me from my last post, I'm the hopeful pre-med who was considering pursuing a BSN undergrad and working for a few years. Another thanks to all the people who responded to me on that topic.

    Anyway, as stated before I have very little knowledge of what nurses actually do, so if some of you ladies/guys would be so kind as to indulge me if you have time.....

    Could you give us a brief rundown of a "day in the life" of your job/the area you work in?

    Just thought it'd make an interesting read!

    Thanks, either way!
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    About manna

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 2,659; Likes: 21


  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    Gosh - that's a wide open question. It depends - nurses work in many settings filling many roles. We have nurses here working in hospitals (in every conceivable unit), in long term care facilities, in doctors' offices, doing utilization review for insurance companies and facilities, in the military, for human resources, in management, and on and on. Are you interested in a particular field of nursing?

    Edited to say, I work in an inpatient medical psychiatric unit in a hospital setting, so my day involves assessments, passing meds, processing admissions and discharges, carrying out MD orders for all sorts of typical med-surg things, plus throw in that my patients are all classified as psych with all the attendant bonus issues that go with that - my days are never dull . I am starting a new job in a couple of days with a college health clinic.
    Last edit by Nurse Ratched on Nov 20, '02
  4. by   manna
    Originally posted by Nurse Ratched
    [BAre you interested in a particular field of nursing?[/B]
    No, no field in particular. I was just curious to hear little tidbits about the day-to-day life of anyone who felt comfortable answering. My own odd brand of voyeurism, maybe? :chuckle
  5. by   prmenrs
    I'd suggest you call a hospital and see if they'd let you do a job shadow. In this case, following a nurse would be infinitely better than trying to explain the job.
  6. by   live4today
    In total agreement with you on this one prmenrs!
  7. by   manna
    Originally posted by prmenrs
    I'd suggest you call a hospital and see if they'd let you do a job shadow. In this case, following a nurse would be infinitely better than trying to explain the job.
    Okay gee, many apologies for posting what apparently came across as a stupid question.

    If I continue considering nursing school (I have a while to decide yet, since I can't exactly afford to quit my FT job), I'll do some shadowing..

    I just thought it would be some interesting reading.... sorry.
  8. by   live4today
    Hi Manna

    No question is stupid! Every question deserves a helpful response. The above answers to you are the best ways in finding out what nursing is like. Why? Because every nurse experiences nursing differently, and what one feels is good about nursing, another may not.

    Prmenrs and I, especially, feel that you are better serviced by gaining a "hands on" experience in regards to what nursing is like because only this will help you to determine if you are cut out for the career field of nursing.

    Please do not read into our responses "negativity" because they were not intended to be of that nature...only helpful to you and anyone else considering nursing.

    Med school and nursing are miles apart, so if you are looking to compare nursing to being a doctor, there is NO comparison. Nursing is nursing, and doctoring is doctoring, and the only ways they come together is for the benefit of the optimum level of wellness in the patients that are serviced by the two professions.

    I hope this helps to explain further to you the responses given you here, including NurseRatched's wonderful response to you.

    BTW...welcome to Allnurses, and we really are here to help one another learn as well as to learn from one another. Feel better???

    In His Grip,
    Renee :kiss
  9. by   Tweety
    It wasn't a stupid question.

    Right now I'm stuck doing charge a lot. We don't have a unit secretary because we'd have to drop a CNA and we're not willing to do that.

    So my day begins with report on the whole floor, usually only about 24-30 patients. The phone rings and rings and visitors and family members interrupt to ask questions.

    I feel more like an air traffic controller sometimes than a nurse. For the most part I'm free of an assignment until admission comes.

    I'm the main resource when doctors, or anyone has questions about their patients. I'm the resource for the nurses to answer questions about their findings on their assessment. Once a nurse comes to me and says "my patient isn't breathing right", then it is owned by me. I go assess the patient and together we decide on a course of action. When a patient becomes critical, I facilitate the transfer, help communicate with the MDs, and directs on what we are doing.

    I make assignments and usually get yelled at by staff for unpopular assignments. I try to be fair and consistent, recognizing everyone's strengths and weaknesses and the acuity of the patients. But I realize sometimes I'm not going to be their friend.

    I try to check in on all the patients sometime during my shift.

    I assure the med sheets are correct for the next day. I clean up and straighten out the unit. I start IVs. I clean butts.

    Sometimes I joke around with patients and tell them I'm the janitor "slash" secretary "slash" nurses aide "slash" charge RN "slash" flunkie.

    It's a challenging, thankless job. I would much rather have a patient assignment and take care of them. But this is what I'm delegated to do by management, and I do a damn good job!

    Well, you did ask didn't you? LOL
  10. by   LasVegasRN
    No question is a stupid question.

    And it would be interesting reading, it's just such a broad spectrum of the many things nurses do these days!

    From my perspective, I'm a nurse case manager. Official title is LasVegas, RN, CCM. You can see me in a variety of places: hospital, doctor's office, patient's home, medical supply store, physical therapy office, YMCA, Goodwill, library, etc. With case management, our goal is to coordinate the care for patient's with complex issues throughout the healthcare continuum. Those patients may come from a variety of backgrounds: construction worker, teacher, bus driver, cabbie, showgirl, celebrity, prostitute (legal here in Nevada!).

    Let me use the showgirl for an example. I'm going to call her BoomBoom. BoomBoom is working at the Crazy Horse and falls off the stage by accident. She falls really hard, compresses 2 lumbar vertebrae. The owner of the Crazy Horse is livid!! That's his BEST dancer!! So, BoomBoom goes to the Urgent Care and gets X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. The Urgent Care doc says, "BoomBoom, stay in bed for a week, take some Flexeril and Lortab for pain, see me in 7 days".
    BoomBoom is stressing out because she doesn't know this is a workers comp injury and that she will be paid 66 2/3 her salary while she is disabled. In the meantime, LasVegasRN comes on the scene.
    First thing LasVegas assesses is if the initial medical care BoomBoom received was appropriate. 7 days bedrest?? For an active athletic 23 year old? NOT!! LasVegas gets her to a physiatrist - a physician who specialized in rehabilitation WITHOUT surgery.

    The physiatrist assesses BoomBoom - ruh roh!! BoomBoom is walking with a limp, horrible pain in her hip radiating into her leg. LasVegas says, "Got ya covered, doc! Already have her set up for a lumbar MRI this afternoon if cool with you?" Doc says, "Cool!". LasVegas anticipated the need for this and already got approval from BoomBoom's claims adjuster.

    LasVegas makes sure BoomBoom gets to her appointment that afternoon. LasVegas gets the radiologist's report hot off the press. Oh no!! One of the compressed discs has caused a herniation that's encroaching on an exiting nerve root!

    LasVegas calls an ortho or neurosurgeon, schedules a tentative appointment for BoomBoom, faxes the report to the physiatrist and tells BoomBoom she's going to need to go in for a follow-up right away.

    BoomBoom comes in, here's the results of the MRI, LasVegas says, "I got your back, doc! Got her set up to see Dr. Fabulous tomorrow!" Doc says, "Damn, you're good!" LasVegas says, "And you know this!!"

    BoomBoom sees Dr. Fabulous. Dr. Fabulous says, gee, we need to do a lumbar discectomy! LasVegas says, "I got your back doc! Got approval from the claims examiner for the surgery, when do you want to do it?" Dr. Fabulous says, "Damn, you're good!". LasVegas says, "You better tell somebody!!".

    Long story short, BoomBoom has the surgery, starts in therapy right away with a therapist suited for athletes. Checks to see if there is any light duty BoomBoom can do while she is rehab'ing her back. BoomBoom goes back to work for 4 hours a day as a hostess after about 6 weeks off work. BoomBoom goes back full duty and released from care after 5 months.

    And that, my friends, is just a small sampling, of the nurse case manager!
  11. by   LilgirlRN
    OK Manna, here goes. I work in a Level II Emergency Department. I work a 12 hour shift from 7PM to 7AM. I am a staff nurse. We are usually very busy, the busiest I have been lately was a few weeks ago when I took care of 17 patients and 3 of them went to the ICU. We only have 14 beds, when I come to work there are 5 nurses and a charge nurse, a nursing assistant, one unit clerk and at least 2 ER docs and usually a multitude of private docs. We start off the night by getting report. We use room assignments and we move each night that we work, depending on which rooms you have, you either have 3 or 4 patients. One nurse "floats", he or she helps the other nurses should something need to be done in another room. There is also a triage nurse, she (most of us are women so I am going to use she) sees the patients first and decides who is the sickest and who needs to come in first and what room they need to go in. Luckily for us, most of our patients could be handled in their doctor's office. We do see a lot of viral illnesses, with nausea and vomiting, I probably start 5-8 IV's a night. I've worked in the ER for almost 14 years so the doc's trust my judgement. This makes my job a lot easier as I can decide what the patient needs labwork wise and order the appropriate testing. So basically I go in and assess the patient, most of this is done just by listening to what the patient tells me. I have a stethescope, which I rarely use as I can gain more information by looking at the pulse oxymeter and looking at the chest xray. OK lets tackle a hypothetical patient... let's say congestive heart failure aka CHF. Patient (pt.) usually comes in via ambulance.. I put them on the monitors. get blood gases, start anIV and get labwork all in one stick. I grab the doc and get them in there fast. We give the patient medication to get teh extra fluid off, usually Lasix, Nitroglycerin paste, morphine and most importantly oxygen. The real telling test is the portable chest xray, you can tell CHF from pneumonia, although they often occur together. Most of the time we put in a foley catheter because the patient will be urinating (hoepfully) a whole lot. Getting up and down to the bathroom is too taxing for these patients, the catheter makes things a lot easier for them and for me, I can keep up with how much urine they put out much more easily this way. If they are sick enough, they are admitted to the ICU, they have to go up on a monitor and I have take them. OK, my daughter wants to get online, so that's all you get. I hope this helps Wendy
  12. by   nilepoc
    Below in my reply, you will find a link to my blog. The purpose of which is to chronicle my path to becomming a CRNA.

    In the early stages of it are some recounted experiences about my time in New Mexicos only level one Trauma ICU.

    So here is one way for you to see what a nurse does.

  13. by   Nurse Ratched
    I don't think it was a stupid question, either. It's just hard to boil down what nurses do .

    Here's a thread to show some of the variety in where we work.

    And 3rdshiftguy did a pretty darn good job of telling "the rest of the story" in nursing .
  14. by   l.rae
    l work in ER here's a few minutes out of my shift...l clock in and get report on my patients.....l have two cardiac beds, a gyn room and a trauma bay in my assingment. Just as l am walking back into the ER after delivering my last pt to ICU, l see a squad rolling a pt into the gyn room....the only room open except for the cardiac be l just emptied. l stop the medics to question them because the pt just looks way too pale. A young 20 something male involved in a minor MVA earlier in the day, was treated and released from ER that morning....but this evening he is back with N&V and abd pain..."wait a minute, l will clean the cardiac bed for this pt" l tell a quick assess, put 2 large bore IV's in the pt and get the MD to see him furiously fast to get him ready for care flight to trauma center...he has a cracked spleen......He's gone, he will be fine, here comes another squad....psychotic pt. drunk...thinks he's superman...and on and on the shift goes....where's my ice chips? much longer?....l need more pain meds.....l need the bed pan.........l don't like needles......can l go smoke while l wait for the dr?(this from the alledged respiratory distress pt who arrived by squad)....l'm here for a pregnancy test(14yr old) l have always maintained that my job is like working on the Jerry Springer SHow with a few emergencies and illnesses thrown in for laughs......LR