Can a Nurse be Introverted?

I recently read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. If you haven’t read the book but are interested in the whole introversion vs. extroversion personality type, I highly recommend it. I’m an introvert and I wish I could have read it 20 years ago, if only to make me feel more comfortable inside my introverted skin.

The book dispels the myth that introverts are these shy, meek people. Rather, they are simply people that thrive in situations that are quiet, solitary, and interruption free. On the other hand, extroverts tend to thrive in group settings, and are adept at handling the many types of interruptions and stimulation that are thrust upon them.

Interruptions? Group settings? Sounds like an extrovert would thrive at nursing. So where does that leave us introverts?

I came across this interesting thread on the topic. I found it interesting because although it predated the Cain book, a few of the nurses were very aware that introversion does not mean shyness, or a lack of confidence; rather it involves levels of social stimulation. Some suggested that ICU, OR, or even school nursing would be tolerable for introverts.

But all of these suggestions don’t take into account that just about any nurse job involves being around people most of the time, and constantly fielding interruptions. Both factors that make an introvert want to pull her hair out.

My advice to the nurse introvert? Go eat lunch by yourself. Find a quite corner somewhere. The chapel, perhaps. Or go outside if the weather permits. An hour of solitude can go along way in re-energizing you for the rest of the shift. But be prepared. Nurses tend to be act in a tribal way, so you may find yourself gingerly explaining that you want to be alone, and you don’t mean to be antisocial.

Also consider the night shift. I used to dread bouncing back and forth from AM to PM shifts, but sometimes the night shifts could be really quite peaceful, without all the interruptions that occur during the day.
In a perfect world we could all find careers that suit our every personality need. In this imperfect world, I believe an introverted nurse can be a happy nurse if he just takes the time to respect his introversion and give it the occasional solitude that it requires.

To tweet or not to tweet

I felt like tweeting again. It’s been awhile.  I kind of fell off the twitter radar mainly because it had started to become a really crowded neighborhood with too many billboards. But also because as a mom I’m so busy I’m lucky if I have time to brush my teeth let alone tweet.

Nonetheless, I had this hankering to tweet. I let out one measly little tweet and now I’m getting nothing but the failwhale. At one point I tried changing browsers (yeah, that makes sense) but I had forgotten my password. And now that I’ve done that it’s like I’m perpetually locked out. It won’t accept any of my new passwords. At one point I got to a captcha screen that said this:


Be Momma. BE a Mama. Nice one, twitter. Way to tell me how to live my life. Yeah, I know the babies are crying and they want their bottles but for once I’d like to write an actual blog post.

So I can’t get on twitter and now I’m not even sure if I want to. But you know that feeling – when you know you should be able to do something and for some reason you can’t, and it makes you want to tear down the walls? Yeah. That’s about how I feel right now.

Anyhow. Just wanted to let everyone in twitterland know I was thinking about them.  

*okay. Just went on flickr and it’s showing up in Spanish. One more sign from the Internet gods and I will throw out my computer and become a luddite.

The Skeptic Gets Her H1N1 Shot

I will admit I was reluctant to get it. A couple years ago I was the flu shot nurse at a local hospital. It seemed like health care workers came from out of the woodwork to tell me their vaccination horror stories. Then, I blogged about itand heard even more horror stories in the comments. I typically am one to go by statistical evidence rather than anecdotal evidence, but I have to admit, the stories spooked me. So much so that I haven’t gotten a flu shot since then.

And I didn’t get vaccinated because I’m a nurse. I haven’t actually worked since July and don’t intend to go back to work any time soon. No, I got it because I’m pregnant.

Previously I was very reluctant to get it. My rationale was that I’m healthy and I rarely leave the house. Plus I’m one of those people that question everything, especially the safety and efficacy of drugs.

What made me change my mind? Simple. The doctor said, it’s the only way you’ll be able to transfer immunity from the virus to your babies. So I got it. Because it’s not about me, anymore. It’s about the babies.

And if I end up having my own vaccination horror story? I’ll be sure to blog all about it. Cross your fingers I won’t have to.

Gen X Nurse

I’m a Gen X nurse.

What does that mean?

In the most obvious sense it just means that I was born in 1970 and I’m a registered nurse. I try not to put too much stock in all of the generational stereotypes, but I have always felt like I was Generation X to the core. Gen Xers tend to be cynical. We’re hard on ourselves and others. We have this reputation for being slackers, not because we’re lazy, but because our standards are too high to just grab whatever old McJob comes our way.

When I graduated from college in 1992, I had a liberal arts degree and no clue what to do with it. I wasn’t interested in graduate school. At that point I was ready for the next step. I wanted to play the game. I wanted to get a paycheck.

The conventional wisdom at the time was to pick a company. (How? Based on what?) Get an entry level position (doing what?) Establish yourself and move up the ranks (to become what, exactly?) It was all so nebulous.
So I got a job in a bakery. I have always loved working with food. It was extremely low-paying but that was okay. I was happy.

I knew it was a dead end job though, so I started taking community college courses. First in psychology (I thought I wanted to be an art therapist) and then in graphic design. Meanwhile I “moved up the ranks” and became a waitress. I started to make a lot more money and it was a job I rather enjoyed.

I did this for 10 years. I traveled a lot. Bought a house. Always in the back of my mind was, “You have a college degree! You should be doing something else!” But that voice was never quite convincing enough.
Then in August of 2001, I attended the funeral of a close friend’s brother. He was a young, wonderful, hard working person who was ruthlessly killed by a drunk driver. Nothing like a funeral for a young person to send you into an existential tailspin.

I fell into a temporary despair. I desperately tried to come up with ideas for what I should be doing different, how to change my life.

And then September 11th happened. Despair turned into anger, followed by numbness. My existential tailspin was curtailed by the need to just go on living. To try and make sense of day to day things without being overcome by rage. I thought about joining the military.

8 months later I made the decision to start nursing school.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make you see what’s really important. And the important thing for me was to do something that I could define, something that had meaning, and something I could take pride in. Sure I could pay my dues and work for a company, sell things, market things, design things, manage things, get promoted. But nursing is different. It’s so much more simpler:

What does a nurse do?
She takes care of people when they are sick. And gets paid for it.

And that’s why despite all the bitching and moaning I like to do about cleaning up poop, I’ll probably always be a nurse.

GAME DAY! The social media sports bar

Last fall I got a little disenchanted with the whole social media scene. I blame the US election. It seems as the election got closer the tweets got meaner and stupider. And I’m talking about both sides here. It was really disheartening.

You know what saved me though?


First it was the Phillies.As they got closer and closer to winning the world series, I always turned to Facebook and Twitter so I could feel more connected to Phillies fans. As a Philly transplant, it was kind of lonely watching the series here in Maryland. Tuning into twitter was the next best thing to sitting in a sportsbar in Philadelphia, watching the Phils win the world series for the first time since 1980.

And then there was football.We have a little bit of a conflict in my household. My husband is a Redskins fan. I kind of toggle back and forth between the Ravens and the Eagles. But the bottom line is that we love to watch football; any team, any time. So last season if the Redskins and the Eagles were playing at the same time, I would use twitter to track both games.

Eventually I would have 7 or 8 search windows open so I could track multiple games. You could tell if something exciting was happening in one game because the amount of tweets would shoot up dramatically. It made game day extra fun. Again, kind of like sitting in a noisy sports bar, cheering for your team.

So I had to laugh when I read this:

Sports and Social Media: Where Opportunity and Fear Collide

Just another example of how old media just doesn’t get new media. How ironic. As the NFL, the SEC and ESPN put more and more restraints on how players and fans use social media, I am finding social media makes me more of a sports fan than I was in the first place.

My prediction is that social media and sports are already colliding in a big, messy, incredibly entertaining way and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

I also predict that the Ravens are going to have an awesome season.

Things to remember about nursing

This summer, I came away from my MICU contract with a renewed understanding of why I have this love-hate relationship with nursing. And I’ve summed it up in 6 simple points so when I’m ready to pick up another contract I can remember what to expect, even if months and months of super intense child rearing washes it all out of my head.

So here goes. The love part…

  1. It’s the feeling you get after the shift that is so great. You made it. You got through this grueling, back breaking, nerve wracking day. It’s a feeling of accomplishment.
  2. It’s the social interaction. The camaraderie. There is definitely a bond there among nurses. No matter how different a fellow nurse is from you they know exactly what it is that you go through. And for many of us, you can’t say the same thing about your family, your spouse, or your best friend.
  3. Then there’s just the joy of knowing a difficult job really, really well. Being able to field any curve ball that comes your way in an extremely fast paced environment. Not to mention the fact that people could die if you don’t do the right thing. While that may sound like an enormous amount of pressure, it’s also a great source of pride to know that you can handle that.

And the hate part…

  1. Night shift – Love, love, love the people who work night shift. But I hate the fact that switching from days to nights makes me feel like a human slug.
  2. Lower back pain. No need to elaborate here.
  3. Cleaning up stool. Sorry. it sucks no matter how you slice it. Some will say “Oh it doesn’t bother me at all! You get used to it.” Bullshit. You have 2 ICU patients, each stooling 3-4 times during the night in a 12 hour shift. You do the math. That means you are potentially up to your elbows in shit Q 2 hrs. AND trying to get the rest of your work done.

Surprise! I love being a nurse again.

Having trouble keeping up with my love-hate relationship with nursing? That’s okay, so am I. The good news is that I love it again. I’m almost halfway through my MICU contract and things are going surprisingly well. They didn’t quite start out that way. Here’s a synopsis: Week 1: In the weeds. All the time. Treading water. Hating life. Crossing off the days until this damned contract is over. Week 2: Getting used to it but damn, this job is hard! How does anyone do this for a living? How did I do this for a living? I’ve had it up to here with poop and sputum and agitated patients on the ventilator and I wished I were back working in the recovery room, checking pedal pulses and getting turkey sandwiches for my patients. Week 3: My confidence has officially returned and it’s starting to feel like I never left. I can kind of see why I actually liked this job, although it’s not easy. It’s still very challenging. Week 4: Wait a sec… I kind of love this job! Even after a crazy shift of codes, deaths, bleeding, confusion, and difficult patients, I walk out the door feeling great. It’s probably just the neurotransmitters. I’m high on adrenaline. I drive home with the windows down and the radio blasting, feeling like I really accomplished something. The next day I wake up very tired but still feeling good. I relax more because I feel like I’ve earned it. So now I’m loving it so much I’m thinking about returning as permanent staff. I can make this work. It’s a big pay cut to leave the agency but I love having a work home, and a work family. My MICU coworkers are absolutely the best, and this job is helping me to remember why I chose nursing in the first place. There’s just one teeny weeny little complication. Two, actually. I’m pregnant with twins. So I’m not going to commit to anything just yet. It’s one thing to put one kid in daycare, but three? You get to the point where financially you’re just barely breaking even. So we’ll see. I think the important thing for me is to remember how I feel about being an ICU nurse right now, which is that I love it. After Ben was born I kind of got seduced by that whole social media world and was tempted to migrate away from nursing altogether. But I’m wiser now. And up for the challenge of having 3 kids under the age of 5 for a few years (YIKES!).

I am still here.

I’ll be going back to the MICU for a contract that starts at the end of April. For a variety of reasons. Still twittering at times but overall have been feeling burned out on the whole social media thing. I made the mistake of following a bunch of Chris Brogan types and all of a sudden my twitter stream turned into this big circus of social media types high fiving each other all day long. After awhile I started to prefer those who tweet about what they are eating. My blog was hacked (again) while I was on vacation. This time it was because I didn’t update from WordPress 2.6 to 2.7. Needless to say, I’m not really feeling the love for WordPress. But what’s the alternative? My husband got me a Nikon D90 for Christmas! I’m really excited to get outside and start shooting away (that doesn’t sound good, does it?) but unfortunately it’s been so dang cold around here. I have been utterly obsessed with economics, politics and the Great Depression 2.0. I’ve gone from confusion to outrage to fear to bewilderment and now I’m think I’m starting to make peace with the whole idea. Hence the MICU contract. Don’t you just love it when a blog post comes full circle?

And you thought your Nursing Orientation was difficult

The other day I was talking to a veteran CCU nurse. She told me that she worked at the hospital where the first defibrillations were studied and performed. Like many health care studies, the testing was done on animals – dogs in this case.

She then went on to tell me that one of the requirements for working in her CCU (back in the 1970’s) was that you actually had to defibrillate a dog to show that you were competent in that skill! Yes, the dogs were sedated before hand, but still.

Nurses see (and do) the craziest things.

BlogHer DC Wrap-up

On Monday I attended BlogHer DC, put on by the good folks at Blogher. This was an excellent event. I’ll admit, I went there with skepticism. This whole google wordpress drama has kind of put me into a existential tailspin with regards to blogging, plus I never really got the whole “BlogHer” thing. Really the only reason I wanted to go was to get to meet Mother Jones, RN in person and to hang out with the guys from JNJ to talk about social media. As it turns out, the event itself was great. The best part of the day was getting to meet so many other bloggers and to hear about the wonderfully creative things they are doing. (Hmm… Did that sentence make me sound like a high school art teacher? I had a blast hanging out with MJ! I taught her all about Twitter and now she’s one of the regular *medtweeps.* It was also great to see Dr. Val. She has a great new site, and I’ll be blogging about it very soon. I also met a very technically savvy blogger named Roni who blogs about weight loss, food, and healthy living. She gave me some great technical help with wordpress that’s going to enable me to improve OrientedX3 and take it to the next level. I also enjoyed hanging out with Rob and Marc from Johnson & Johnson. It’s interesting to see what they are doing with social media. Some have been very distrustful when they see corporations like JNJ entering the social arena and I think they are missing the point. Expect a big blog post on that later in the week. And finally, in case you missed it, I wrote a summary of my trip to Blog World Expo and the future of healthcare blogging over at