On Doing What You Love

So I was writing this post about how I’m really lukewarm on being a nurse and I came upon this post by Lisa Sabin Wilson, a wordpress designer who is a former nurse.

Here’s how she felt about nursing:

…I pretty much thought I would be a nurse until the day I retire…Nursing was one of those ok jobs. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. It was . . . fine. I was good at it – – excelled in it, really – and took pride in that fact. But I wasn’t doing what I loved… nor was I loving what I did.

I feel like the future “me” could have written this. In the post I was working on, I was going to spell out why I was so lukewarm on nursing, but you know what? I don’t want to waste your time with that. And I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from entering the field. There are many ways in which being a nurse is satisfying and meaningful, and the sky’s the limit as far as opportunities go.

But for me being a nurse has sort of been a cop out. It’s like the childish “me” has always wanted to do something creative but then my childish side kind of ran out of time. So I grew up and found a profession. When I first became an RN, I thought. “Finally. I have found a respectable and stable way to earn money. Now I can start painting again in my free time.” Ha. Flash forward to being a full time mom and a part time nurse and suddenly there is no free time. Fortunately I have this blog to fuel my creative side and keep it somewhat balanced for now.

Am I Contributing to the Nursing Shortage?

I got this comment the other day from Trish, and I really have mixed feelings about it:

I just wanted to let you know I like your blog and you have impacted someone’s life (mine), in an unexpected way.

I’m starting college this fall after being out of school many years. I was planning on going into nursing. Deep down I suspected I would suck at being a nurse, especially when I found myself gagging while washing out my pottytraining toddler’s poopy underpants. Your blog, and this post, has pretty much confirmed my suspicions and I’m planning on doing something else now. Thanks for opening my eyes!

On the one hand, I feel bad. We need nurses and I hate to think that I’ve influenced someone to not be a nurse.

On the other hand, everything I write here is my honest and open opinion about the profession, and I write about what being a nurse really entails. And unfortunately, the further I get in this profession, the more I want out of it.

Despite that, I have no regrets as far as choosing this path, and spending the last three years (5 if you include school) being a nurse. It’s been a mind-blowing experience, one in which I’ve learned a lot about life and a lot about my self, and what I’m capable of doing.

To Trish I would say this: Do a little more thinking about what drove you to consider nursing in the first place, because there are many types of nurses that rarely come into contact with poop. (Isn’t it crazy that I’m writing a serious post about poop?) Psych nurses, community health nurses, and case managers are a few types that come to mind. And you can always try being a NICU nurse, because as @thatguynamedtom said, “the poop is so much smaller there.”

One final thought: I used to be a person who was afraid of blood, and for years I wouldn’t even dream of becoming a nurse, for fear of having to actually draw someone’s blood. I later came to find out, however, that this was simply a matter of my own vasovagal response to giving blood. Years later I found myself up to my elbows in blood amongst the GI bleeders in the MICU, and I was as far from syncope as you can get. Instead I found myself pumped up with adrenaline and exhilaration at the chance to be saving someone’s life.

Now there’s a good reason to become a nurse.

It’s Oh So Quiet


(photo taken by emdot)

It’s been a little quiet around here to say the least. I haven’t worked many shifts lately and so there’s not too much to write about. To tell you the truth I am thinking about shutting this here blog down and starting a new one in which I write about things other than nursing. As far as writing about nursing… I’m just not feeling it these days.

Ho hum. So anyway, here’s the latest version of Orientedx3.com. I’m happier with the look and color scheme. I do realize that when you scroll down the layout is seriously lopsided and I’m trying to think about how to fix that. I added a section at the top called “daily nurse” to post short blurbs about articles, blogs, or tweets that I think are interesting and nurse related.

In the interest of not leaving my readers completely unsatisfied I leave you this. The Laryngospasms are this completely adorable singing group made up of CRNAs. Also watch Breath, it will make you smile, I promise.

Maternal Suckling Thing

Apparently there is a wee bit o’ controversy over veterinary techs commandeering the term “nurse.” A complaint was made to the New York State Board for Veterinary Medicine, claiming that “nurse” is a term that should be reserved only for those who care for humans.

I’m not surprised that someone would make this complaint. Many BSN programs will spend precious class time explaining that nurses have some issues with image and identity, and there is a movement to make sure that nursing is looked upon as a profession, rather than just a job.

On the other hand, if someone wants to refer to themselves as a “vet nurse” an “animal nurse,” I really could not care less. It was this post, however, found on a veterinary blog, that had me ROTFLMAO:

Though I’m insulted by this RN action, I have a hard time defending the word itself. “Nurse” is an anachronistic, misogynistic term. Veterinary technician or “vet tech” is a far more descriptive and doesn’t denote a maternal suckling thing that has no place in modern medicine. After all, human nurses are technical and scientific; no longer do they fluff pillows and soothe the soul through their womanly presence.

Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve been wanting to tell my patients when they ring the call bell and ask for my help:

“Please do not confuse me for a maternal suckling thing! I am a human nurse, technical and scientific; and I will no longer fluff your pillows and soothe your soul through my womanly presence! (I’ll bet the male nurses out there love that part.) Sorry, looks like you’ll just have to lay there with your unfluffed pillow, I’m off to do something scientific and technical.”

(Many thanks to Shreela for bringing this to my attention!)

A “Former Nurse” isn’t a Nurse

Saw this headline show up on the “Twitter on Nurses” section of OX3:

Nurse Charged With Injecting Patients With Bleach

Basically, a former nurse, working at a DaVita Dialysis Center, injected two of her patients with bleach. Pretty horrific.

I’m wondering why Davita hired a “former” nurse to work in a dialysis center. Must be some reason she’s no longer a nurse. And why do the headlines have to say “NURSE charged with injecting patients with bleach,” when she’s no longer a nurse? It kind of makes me cringe.

A “former nurse” isn’t a nurse.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mental Father for leaving this link in the comments; it really clarifies some things:

Police: DaVita nurse injected 2 with bleach

Overall, this story is turning out to be pretty bizarre. There are some interesting comments in the Lufkin Daily News article regarding how dialysis nurses use a bleach solution to clean the equipment, and perhaps this is what the nurse ended up injecting into the patients by mistake. Either way, it is interesting that the patients survived.

Any dialysis nurses out there want to weigh in on this?

MICU vs Recovery Room: A Comparison

I’ll bet some of you are going to hate me for saying this, but nursing isn’t such a bad job when you only do it part-time. And recovery room nursing isn’t so bad either, even though I’ve complained about it in the past. All it took was one shift back in the MICU to make me realize how good I had it in the recovery room. Let’s look at the advantages of being a recovery room nurse:

  • No weekends, holidays, or night shifts.
  • We are rarely “in the weeds” and even when we are, it’s very manageable.
  • The patients are (for the most part) very nice, appreciative, and never poop in their bed – unlike MICU patients.

In fact, I’m starting to wonder why the recovery room that I work in needs to use so many agency nurses. Some days no less than a third of the nurses are agency. Given all of the advantages, I wonder why they have so much trouble recruiting good staff nurses.

Some of the possible disadvantages could be:

  • Lack of a challenge, it’s really a very easy job to master.
  • Too many waitress-type tasks; i.e. fetching cookies and ginger ale for patients.
  • The doctors I work with (radiologists and interventional cardiologists) kind of lack that warm fuzziness you get from the medical docs. But you know what gives me the warm fuzzies these days? Not having to clean up poop

All of this being said, (doh!) I can think of some reasons why one would continue to be a MICU nurse:

  • You crave excitement.
  • You need to be challenged in your work.
  • You don’t mind holidays, weekends or night shifts.

That used to be me – all three of them. It’s funny how things change though, when you start a family. I guess that’s one of the great advantages of being a nurse. When you get tired of one type of nursing, you can always try another. There is such a variety of jobs in our field that you could stick with nursing and never run out of ways to reinvent your career.

Unless of course your secret desire is to become the web designer that you failed to become in the 90’s. Then you may as well stick with recovery room nursing until you get it all sorted out.

Nurses on Twitter, Twitter on Nurses

Why would a nurse want to use twitter?

First things first, what is twitter? Quite simply, it’s a microblogging tool. Think you have something witty/amusing/relevant to say and can get it in under 140 characters? Then twitter is for you. Want to connect with a community of people without having to write long, drawn out blog posts? I would suggest trying twitter. It’s like a slimmed down version of social networking. You write something, you read something. And you can have conversations with people. Short ones.

Along with twitter comes a great many sites that take twitter feeds and mash the data into something else entirely.

For example: Twittervision takes a map of the world and shows you real time tweets popping up on it. Twits Like Me can help you find friends on twitter. There’s also a very useful site called Summize, that you can use to track words as they occur on twitter. Here’s a very simple example of how I like to “play” with Summize:

This morning I got up at 5:45 AM, went to Summize and typed in “drinking”. Lots of tweets came back about drinking wine, getting drunk, etc. Then, an hour later I typed in “drinking” and got tweets about coffee and tea. It’s like watching the world go to bed and wake up at the same time. Try typing in “eating” somewhere around dinner time. You might just find yourself salivating.

And for a wonderfully compelling and beautiful site that uses data from Summize, I urge you to check out Twistori. But be forewarned. Your eyes might get stuck there for awhile.

Great. But I thought you were going to tell me why a nurse would want to use twitter?

For one, you can use Twitter to expand your online community. There are some tech savvy nurses out there using Twitter, and so why not try and connect with them? As you can see on Orientedx3, I am also using Twitter to get a glimpse of what people really think about nurses; the good, the bad, the fascinating, the irrelevant.

The thing that fascinates me the most about Twitter, and feed technology in general, is how it might be useful in medical situations.

Here’s a place where it could be used: Working in the recovery room, one of the problems I see for nurses is not getting enough background information on their patients. The patient reports that we receive are often short and without substance. Most of the time this suffices, but what happens when your patient takes a turn for the worst and you don’t have the right background information? You need to know the patient’s baseline and perhaps a little more about their history to take care of them.

Well, what if every patient had a feed that was connected to their EMR? It could basically serve as a mini-history of that patient’s hospitalization. It would include small blurbs of relevant info, like if the patients vital signs became abnormal, or if a one time dose of hydralazine had to be given, or if a patient required a blood transfusion. As a nurse, you could view this stream of feeds and get a much better picture of what the story is behind your patient. I could also imagine that the feed would be useful to physicians and pharmacists.

Anyhow, those are my Twitter thoughts for the day. Intrigued? Follow me!

Breathing New Life into OrientedX3

If you go take a look at Orientedx3, you’ll see I’ve been performing some much needed CPR on it. It’s definitely a work in progress, as there is much to be done as far as the style and substance are concerned. But I thought it would be great if all of you out there could tell me what you think about it. My aim is to build a site that is actually useful to people. I’m going to be blogging about it all this week at PixelRN and so feel free to chime in on the discussion. Love it? Hate it? Completely indifferent? I welcome any and all feedback.

First let me tell you about my original vision:

In early 2007 I had the idea to start working on a website/blog that would serve as an aggregator for all things on the web that were related to nursing. I knew this could be done in an automated way through RSS feeds and PHP, but I just didn’t know how to do it. So instead I decided to launch OrientedX3 as a WordPress blog, and just update it manually. This proved to be a lot of work, and then two things happened which completely sidetracked me:

1. Benjamin came along
2. NursingLink hired me as general manager.

I’ve since left NursingLink behind, but fortunately Ben is here to stay. About six weeks ago I started working less and staying at home more, and I decided I wanted to finish what I had started. In the process I came across two other sites that were doing something similar to what I had in mind: Popurls and Alltop. If they could do it, so could I. I was immediately inspired to pick up where I left off.

In the past year I’ve learned a little bit of PHP. Well, enough really to get me into trouble. Certainly not enough to build my own RSS agregator from scratch. But then I found an awesome WordPress plugin called Simple Pie, and I was off and running.

And voila! Here it is. So what do you think?

One thing I have been wondering specifically is: Do you think a site like this could be useful?

One may ask, how is this different from using Bloglines or Google Reader to keep track of blogs and news stories?

I don’t know. I just like the idea of everything related to nursing on the same page. I like to think that this page would be a great answer to the question, “How do nurses use the Internet?” Unfortunately, sometimes I wonder if anyone is really asking this question.

Some drawbacks…

Not all nursing websites are savvy to the concept of RSS feeds, and therefore, I can’t include them on this page. For instance, I enjoy reading what the Center for Nursing Advocacy has to say. I don’t always agree with them, but I like the fact that they are doing something interesting. But there are no RSS feeds to be found on their site. Same with the ANA. Not a single use of RSS. I think this is going to change eventually. The vast majority of people’s eyes glaze over when I mention RSS but I think that feed technology is here to stay. It’s just going to take a little longer to catch on.

I’d also like to have a bigger section that tracks what nurses are saying on forums, but the big ones, Allnurses and NursingLink don’t use feeds for their forums. As you can see I’ve included NursingVoices, and Nursing Informatics Online.

Tomorrow: I’ll explain my fascination with Twitter, and why I chose to include it on OrientedX3.

EKG Interpretation: The Tap Dance Way

Check out this cute video of University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing faculty and students demonstrating the art of EKG interpretation through tap dancing. Now if they could throw a Wenckebach in there, I’d really be impressed. (via Beka at Medscape Nurses)

It was recently brought to my attention by my dear friend Max that I haven’t blogged in over two weeks. Just wanted to let you all know that I am still alive and kicking. I’m picking up a shift here and there in the Recovery Room, but also working on some web-related projects which I will hopefully be posting about soon. In the meantime, I will leave you with a picture of a Bonsai tree I’ve been working on in illustrator: