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homenow09's Latest Activity

  1. homenow09

    Reach Out and Touch Your Patient!

    Getting patients ready for surgery is an important part of the perioperative process. Many patients are not ordered to be cleared by their Primary Care Physicians before their scheduled surgeries. Pre-screening Nurses must screen patients, review their pre-operative lab studies, and EKG results for abnormalities. Any abnormal EKG's or lab results must be reviewed by Anesthesia. Some patients' surgeries must be cancelled if their results require that their PCP's clear them prior to surgery. Another concern is undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is a common disorder that affects all age groups, and approximately 4% of men and 2% of women in the USA are estimated to have it. And the treatment for it remains an even more alarming concern. Approximately 40 to 60% of patients diagnosed with OSA are non-compliant with using their CPAP and BIPAP machines. It is the Nurse who must teach their patients the importance of wearing their devices to prevent both peri-operative and post-operative complications. Yes, this what I do now. You might say that I nurse from a distance, but it is just as important as me touching them physically. Teaching is a big part of Nursing. Nurses make a difference in safe outcomes after surgery. It is my responsibility to tell patients what medicines they can safely take prior to surgery and which ones they should avoid. I explain to them how important it is not to eat and drink before surgery and the rationale behind it. Many patients are anxious about anesthesia and whether or not they will be uncomfortable in the immediate post-op period. It is the Nurse who explain the details, reassures their patients, and comforts them only in a way that we know how to do. Nurses are the caregivers, indeed. I enjoy making a difference in my patient's surgical experience. I know that they look to me for guidance and reassurance. Pre-operative teaching makes for a better and safer post-operative experience. Patients need someone to stay with them 24 hours after their surgeries because of the lingering effects of anesthesia. It is sad when patients tell me that they have no one to stay with them. Sometimes their surgeons are able to have them stay in the hospital over night. And for others, it is more difficult. Nurses are truly their patient's advocates. They must make sure that their patients are optimized prior to surgery, and have a sufficient support system to return to when everything is said and done. There are a lot of rules and regulations to adhere to when getting patient ready for surgery, but we must keep in mind that patients not only need to be safe, but respected and reassured that they will be well taken care of. Never under estimate the power of reaching out without a physical touch. Knowing that some cares can be comforting in a way you may not imagine. Sometimes when I hang up the phone I feel good about my patient's situation and then there are times when I wish I could say or do something more for them. On any given day we may have 40 to 50 patients we need to get ready for surgery. I like to give my patients my undivided attention they deserve on the other end of the phone and make them feel as though we are in the same room together sitting face to face. Some days I feel rushed to get my work done, but I never like to hurry my patients off the phone. They need that personal touch, knowing that we truly care about them. We know as Nurses that we must care of their physical needs, but the emotional needs are just as important. Yes, when I say that I take care of my patients from a distance, that distance can be as close as the touch of my hand on the other end of my phone's receiver.
  2. homenow09

    My Nursing Career: A long look back

    It doesn't seem all that long ago that I made the decision to become a Nurse. Nursing school, the "Pinning and Capping" ceremonies, and yes, graduation! And can someone please tell me where have all the caps gone? But we Nurses know that it's what's under the cap that matters the most! There are a lot of firsts in life, and you never forget your first patient. Mine was a young man on a ventilator, totally unresponsive, with multiple fractures, as a result of a motorcycle accident. With all the training I thought I had, nothing prepared me for what I saw that day. To my amazement, eight months later, that same young man walked back to our Surgical Intensive Care Unit to thank each and everyone of us for caring for him. I also found out that day that miracles can and do happen. I worked in a Nursing Home, a Hospital, and in a school as a substitute School Nurse. I worked in a Surgical Intensive Care Unit taking care of open heart patients, in Post Anesthesia Care Unit taking care of post operative patients, in a step down unit caring for cardiac patients, and I even worked in an Endocrinologist's office! I have cared for the very young and the very old. I worked my way up in the ranks from Nurses' Aide, a Licensed Practical Nurse, and as a Registered Nurse. You might say, I have done it all! I have seen a lot of changes in the way a Nurse nurses over the years. Computer charting has replaced paper charting. Hand held computer scanners have replaced "med cards." Electronic machines now measure vital signs, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure instantly and with ease. But one thing that remains constant is what drives a Nurse to do what they do. Patients look to their Nurse for guidance and to allay their fears when faced with difficult choices. And it's no wonder when patients are hospitalized, it is the Nurse that they remember the most! Night shift, day shift, rotating shifts together and having every other weekend off, welcome to my world! Working to the end of the shift and more if the need arises. Staying until your relief shows up when that snow storm hits. Charting when you get the chance, giving report to the next shift, going home, and doing the same thing all over again the next day. But every day is different, a challenge, different patients, different diagnoses. Yes, indeed, it takes a special person to be a Nurse. And I hope that my patients felt that I was that Nurse that they recalled, a special person who made a difference in their lives and good health. You could have one patient recovering from surgery in one room, hoping to be discharged back home to their family, and in another room, a totally different situation, comforting a poor elderly lady with no family who can't go back to her home. You could have five or more different patients on your assignment with five or more totally different plans of care challenging you all at the same time. I take care of my patients over the phone now. I work in an Outpatient Surgery Screening Department. Even though I do not physically touch my patients when I care for them, I reach out to them in a rewarding way, and know that I still make a difference in their lives. It's hard to believe that after 42 years of service, my career will soon be coming to an end. It will be hard to walk away from all that I know. But I know when I walk that last walk I will be taking much more away with me than what I had to start out with 42 years ago.
  3. homenow09

    First and foremost, always a Nurse

    Once a Nurse, always a Nurse. Caring and compassion is engrained into it's profession. Patients always seem to remember the Nurse who took care of them. It is a sacred relationship of sorts that is shared and remembered. The Nurse functions as their patient's advocates, someone that they can trust. It doesn't seem like all that long ago that I made my decision to become a Nurse. Nursing school, the "pinning" ceremony, and yes, graduation! First job, orientation, first patient assignment, the start of my new career. I'll never forget my first patient. It seems as though you always remember your first time events in life. I take care of my patients over the phone now. I work in the Outpatient Surgery Screening Department. Even though I don't physically touch my patients when I care for them, I reach out to them in a rewarding way. I know that I still make a difference in their lives. I have worked in a Nursing Home, a hospital, and as a substitute School Nurse. I've cared for the very young and old. I worked my way up the ranks from a Nurses' Aide, a Licensed Practical Nurse, and as a Registered Nurse. You might say that I've done it all! It's hard to believe 42 years of service soon coming to an end. It'll be hard to walk away from all that I know. The end of an era indeed. Just knowing that I made a difference in the many lives I have touched reminds me that I am truly blessed to have had such a rewarding career.
  4. homenow09

    A Time to Reflect

    I have been a nurse since 1973. Nursing wasn't something I had in mind for myself when I graduated from high school. In fact, I was totally undecided what I wanted to do with my life until a close childhood friend of mine suggested I enroll in a Practical Nurse Program she was interested in. Nursing School was hard to get into in the 1970s. You put your name on the waiting list and wished for the best. Before you knew it, September arrived and I had gotten my books, uniform, and financial aid all taken care of. I was ready to start! Nursing School definitely had its trials and tribulations, but that twelve month program flew by fast. On graduation day, my parents were so proud, their little girl was a Nurse! Shortly after graduation, I landed my first job in a Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I received fantastic on the job training there. Nothing in my short 18 years of my life ever prepared me for what was to come! Sure, I knew it meant I would be taking vital signs, bathing, and feeding patients. I will never forget the first patient assignment I had. A young man devastated by a motorcycle accident, laying in a coma, head injury, broken bones, on a ventilator. Six months later, that same young man actually walked into the SICU and wanted to meet the nurses who cared for him. Unbelievable experience! After enduring a few life changing events in my life, the time was right for me to further my career and return to Nursing School to become a Registered Nurse. That meant living life in the fast lane, work, eat, study, study, study! I remember my Nursing instructor telling me you must have empathy to be a nurse. I've always tried to put my self in my patient's position. How would I feel if the person in the bed was my Mom or Dad? Nurses need to be advocates for their patients. I can remember being that advocate many times in my career. A patient once told me about her hospital stay experience and it actually evolved around the nurse who took care of her. Sure her doctor played a part in her care, dietary provided her meals, and the Nursing Assistant helped her nurse give care, but the Nurse is who she remembered the most! I never realized how much of an impact the Nurse made on a patient. Patients look to their Nurse for guidance and reassurance. Someone they can trust. What big white shoes to fill! I've worked as a nursing assistant, Practical Nurse, and Registered Nurse. I have worked in a Nursing Home, Doctor's office, and in a hospital. I've even worked as a substitute School Nurse. I tried it all! I worked daylight, evenings, and yes, the dreaded night shift. As I write this article and reflect back on my own experiences as a nurse, I look at my daughter who aspires to become a nurse just like me. I want to think that I made a difference not only in my daughter's life, but also in all the lives I touched as a nurse. As I wind down on my career, I can look back and know that I served my profession well.