Thursday, July 28, 2011


That photo is off my boat on the Grand Canyon, which was a sweet trip.

Full circle. Two years after starting the MEPN program, I'm now lucky enough and crazy enough to help teach new MEPNs. I'm river guiding rarely, working as a nurse in the Emergency Department a LOT, and teaching to really fill my soul.

I never knew how much I'd love teaching.

I also never knew how frightened I'd be to re-enter the Master's portion of this program.

So, I had to leave my Level 1 Trauma Center job in order to teach, so now I work at a Level 2 Trauma Center, hopefully going to be splitting a dual appointment with the Emergency Department and perhaps the PICC/IV team. Days, thankfully. I work DAYS. Sweet.

Night shift made me insane.
But that's not what I'm here to blog about.

I wanted to talk about teaching. It's been challenging, for sure. I watch the new students get so excited about the smallest part of nursing they get to experience. I watch their faces light up when they help a patient make a small achievement for the day- and for me, that's the real reward. Sometimes they get so lost in details that I could scream (oh, the questions), but I know it's part of their learning process and I want them to ask, ask, ask.

Their passion is amazing.

So we were talking about inserting nasogastric tubes the other day, and one student asked me, "What if they bleed? Or what if you hurt the person while you're doing this procedure?"
To which I replied, "Well, sometimes you do hurt people - I mean, it's not comfortable. Do you harm them? No. But you do hurt them. You aren't always doing something nice - sometimes you're doing something that is really uncomfortable."

She stated, "Wow. You must kinda lose some of that connection, you know? I mean, ER nurses must learn how to not care."

I blinked. And said, "No, you never stop caring. If you stop caring, you leave nursing. You just learn to differentiate between what's actually harmful and what's necessary for healing. I've refused to do things before. People have the right to say no. And you get used to how procedures go. Not every procedure goes perfectly every time. You just do your best."

And I realized I meant that. I could have told her about my patient the other day whose heart stopped mid sentence and was a DNR, and how even though I was still taking care of patients that day, I stepped into the room with the family and cried for 15 minutes with them. And that I still think about her.
I could tell her that I walked into a room with an intubated patient, noticed her BP was sky-high and titrated up her sedation and spoke to her in soothing tones, and watched her heart rate and BP drop to a more normal zone. I could tell her that I never say anything bad about my patient even if they're sedated, because I assume they can hear me, and my place isn't to judge.
I could tell her that sometimes I judge anyway, and I have to shove my judgment aside. I'm human, and people do stupid things, for sure- but how many times have I done something dumb? Nobody deserves to get hurt.
I could tell her that every time I feel like I hurt someone I cringe inside.
I could tell her that I give 110% to people while I'm there, because, well, that's my job and I love what I do.
I could relate the time I had a guy who learned he was probably never going to walk again, and how I held his hand and my friend Jen held his other hand because he wasn't sure if his child was alive, and how we both stood there and cried with him for an hour, because we had the time to give and we could be there and he said, "Please, please don't let me be alone." And dammit, we weren't going to let him be alone that night.

I couldn't do this job if I didn't care.