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Is trauma for me?

Posted

Specializes in Hospice/Infusion. Has 12 years experience.

Hey guys,

So I have had a long time to think about where I want to go as an RN...a little background on me..I was an LPN for several years before obtaining my RN and I am finally there! I have worked mostly in pediatric and in my experience with different jobs, I notice that I am typically pulled to jobs that challenge my skills. I originally wanted forensic nursing, but realized in NJ it's mostly rape kits..so that was out. Then I thought nurse anesthetist, which is still a possibility. This thought led me to wanted to work in ICU, I did a rotation there and enjoyed it as well as ER, no trauma though. I feel pulled toward trauma or ICU. I feel like I wouldn't be a true nurse if I didn't learn how to really save a life. I get bored of repetitive work environments and like to be challenged as well as liking fast paced environments...but I'm afraid I won't handle the stress well...I was called for an interview for an ER part time position so well see where that goes. I'm just wondering if there's any way to know if trauma is for me or not. I don't even know frankly if I can stomach seeing guts popping out or any of the other gory stuff one is likely to see. There's just something inside me drawing me to it...

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

We cannot possibly know if trauma is for you. If you feel the pull, try it and see.

LJ85, ADN, BSN, CNA, LPN

Specializes in Hospice/Infusion. Has 12 years experience.

We cannot possibly know if trauma is for you. If you feel the pull, try it and see.

Wow thanks Ruby, that was such a helpful comment :bored:

I asked for opinions, preferably from nurses who have worked in trauma and can talk a little bit about what their experience was as a beginner in trauma.

Da_Milk_of_Amnesia, MSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 5 years experience.

You wanna do trauma ER or trauma ICU ? Too very different worlds. Most places will require you to have a year of medsurg prior to going into the ER. I know in NY you are required 1 year, not sure about NJ tho. I worked in a catch-all ICU where I did mostly trauma, but also medical, surgical etc. And I also worked in the ER a lot at the same place. Level 2a, operated essentially like a level 1, only really sent out burns and kids less than 13. For someone with no prior trauma experience it maybe difficult, you have no idea what your looking at or thinking about secondary injuries that may or may not occur. Trauma codes move very fast, as you are racing the clock.

- You afraid of stress ? You sure you wanted to be a nurse? Stress is the nature of the beast, you'll be stressed whether you're working med/surg or ICU or in the ER. You better get used to it, and learn how to deal (or not) with it because it will eat you alive if you don't. And you want to be a CRNA, let me lay this out for you. If you are afraid of stress or don't think you can handle it then i wouldn't be a CRNA, we paralyze people on a regular basis, a lot of bad stuff goes on when you paralyze someone.

- Being a nurse has nothing to do with saving lives, yes it part of our job description but that doesn't make you a 'real' or good nurse. A good nurse is someone who is intelligent, is ahead of the curve, has compassion/empathy and is able to interact with people, sometimes on a deeper level. I've saved a lot of lives, but it's not some badge of honor, I don't brag or really even care about it much. It's my job, its what I love to do.

- You wanna know if trauma is for you - go be an EMT or something. You'll witness trauma first hand, if you can't handle it out there, you probably won't be able to handle it at all - I could go on for days about the mangled bodies and assorted body parts I've picked up over my 13 years of EMS, but I won't.

- Good luck to you, sounds like you're at a cross-roads. You'll figure it out. Truthfully if you wanna know if you can handle it or not then just go and do it. When you get there you'll find yourself at a point where you either do you job or you go suck on your thumb and cry in the corner, and trust me you don't wanna be known as the person who couldn't handle it.

LJ85, ADN, BSN, CNA, LPN

Specializes in Hospice/Infusion. Has 12 years experience.

Thanks so much for your insight. I have been an LPN for 6 years so I have a little experience as a nurse. I handle the stress to the best of my ability but I haven't worked in a hospital so I'm sure it's much different. You're right about just doing it, if something scares me I usually just do it and I think that's what I'll do. I'll put my time in wherever I have to to get where I want to be. And regarding my previous comment about saving lives making you a "real nurse" that was only meant concerning myself. It is what drives my personal existence as a nurse, it is my calling. If you care for others and you do your job well you are a good nurse, for me, I want to save lives. I don't want to brag, I just want to make a difference in the lives of others, at critical times in their lives.

bsartor

Specializes in Neuro, Trauma, and Psych. Has 2 years experience.

I just completed my last clinical rotation in the biggest Trauma ICU in a large city. So even though I am not a registered nurse yet I thought I could share some things about a TICU. I haven't done Trauma ER or resuscitation (here we call the unit Resus) so I cannot speak to that.

So TICU in a nutshell:

Patient demographics: 16 and up, every race, every socioeconomic background. Criminals, victims etc....

Usually it is younger and healthy patients that end up in the TICU.

Types of Trauma: Mult GSW, MVA, Head Trauma, SCI, surgical trauma, Burns, lots of ribs Fx with pneumo or hemothorax.

Lots of chest tubes, JP drains, open abdominal incisions from abdominal HTN, compartment syndrome

and fasciotomies due to fluid overload from resuscitation efforts.

Pros: Medications are straight forward. All the meds to maintain the ventilated patient (Fentanyl gtts, vecoronium,

propophol.) Generally patients are young and healthy so usually you don't have a lot of meds to give like you would

in a Coronary or Surgical ICU (Tons of meds in the surgical ICU to prevent organ rejection)

You see patients survive massive trauma and heal! I am amazed at how fast skin and bones can heal. The brain

takes it's time.

CONS: It can be pretty gnarly (but I like blood and guts). Sometimes they even open up an abdomen at bedside and you

see the intestines swell out of the abdominal cavity.

You WILL be nursing and caring for murderers, violent, and otherwise less than angelic patients. You will care for

hardened individuals that belong to some seriously violent gangs. And you MUST care for them as you would any

patient. Sometimes it is super sad when you have a teenage female that is awaiting trial for murder.

Good luck

I just completed my last clinical rotation in the biggest Trauma ICU in a large city. So even though I am not a registered nurse yet I thought I could share some things about a TICU. I haven't done Trauma ER or resuscitation (here we call the unit Resus) so I cannot speak to that.

So TICU in a nutshell:

Patient demographics: 16 and up, every race, every socioeconomic background. Criminals, victims etc....

Usually it is younger and healthy patients that end up in the TICU.

Types of Trauma: Mult GSW, MVA, Head Trauma, SCI, surgical trauma, Burns, lots of ribs Fx with pneumo or hemothorax.

Lots of chest tubes, JP drains, open abdominal incisions from abdominal HTN, compartment syndrome

and fasciotomies due to fluid overload from resuscitation efforts.

Pros: Medications are straight forward. All the meds to maintain the ventilated patient (Fentanyl gtts, vecoronium,

propophol.) Generally patients are young and healthy so usually you don't have a lot of meds to give like you would

in a Coronary or Surgical ICU (Tons of meds in the surgical ICU to prevent organ rejection)

You see patients survive massive trauma and heal! I am amazed at how fast skin and bones can heal. The brain

takes it's time.

CONS: It can be pretty gnarly (but I like blood and guts). Sometimes they even open up an abdomen at bedside and you

see the intestines swell out of the abdominal cavity.

You WILL be nursing and caring for murderers, violent, and otherwise less than angelic patients. You will care for

hardened individuals that belong to some seriously violent gangs. And you MUST care for them as you would any

patient. Sometimes it is super sad when you have a teenage female that is awaiting trial for murder.

Good luck

Ok, this is interesting. I work in a post surgical unit and ortho neuro unit. This sounds a whole lot like my patients. I assume TICU patients are more likely to turn on you at any moments notice...although, that sounds like my unit as well...

I began working in a surgical/trauma ICU right out of nursing school. Our hospital has an amazing "critical care university" in which we receive an intense 6 month period of on-the-floor orientation as well as classroom experiences. In nursing school, I would get dizzy just from seeing blood from and IV start! I never would have thought I would do well with blood/guts/brains/etc. but I love it. There is nothing else I would rather be doing! There is no way of knowing if you will like it or not but you should try it and see. You will find out pretty quickly if it's for you or not. If not, you can say you tried. That's the best part of nursing.. there are so many different specialties!

nursingsprettycool17, BSN

Specializes in CVICU. Has 2 years experience.

On 8/17/2014 at 12:01 AM, ashley56211 said:

I began working in a surgical/trauma ICU right out of nursing school. Our hospital has an amazing "critical care university" in which we receive an intense 6 month period of on-the-floor orientation as well as classroom experiences. In nursing school, I would get dizzy just from seeing blood from and IV start! I never would have thought I would do well with blood/guts/brains/etc. but I love it. There is nothing else I would rather be doing! There is no way of knowing if you will like it or not but you should try it and see. You will find out pretty quickly if it's for you or not. If not, you can say you tried. That's the best part of nursing.. there are so many different specialties!

what hospital is this? if you don't mind me asking. i've been trying to get into critical care for a while now

I am a Med/Surg ICU nurse, but our hospital has a Trauma ICU to which I have floated many times. The trauma patients are typically younger and have fewer co-morbidities when compared to the MICU. It is a lot of pain management, neuro checks, and physical therapy. You see a lot of sad cases and people who have made poor life decisions, but that can be said about any area of nursing.

As far as gore is concerned, ER nursing sees way more of that than the ICU for the most part. And, just like anything else, you'll become desensitized over time as you are exposed to more blood/bodily fluids, incisions, etc....Maybe not 100% desensitized, but it will get better!