Drips, Vents, and Tubes – OH MY!
It’s official, I have survived four whole weeks y’all [sorry just got back from Nashville and still feeling the hype]! I’m pretty sure working a whole month in the unit makes me a legit CVICU nurse, like enough to add it to my Instagram bio. The unit is different from the floor in so many ways. The whole you have 1-2 patients instead of 4-5 is still so crazy to me. The hourly blood sugar checks, the art lines and swanz-ganz, the hourly I/Os, the various medications drips, and constantly having eyes on my patient is a new concept to me. I feel I am adapting well, but honestly when I get report sometimes I feel the nurse is speaking in a foreign language, especially when talking about vents [400 SIMV 6 on 40% and 8 – COME AGAIN?]. I love the days when I am able to answer all the questions my preceptor throws my way, the days I feel comfortable charting and responding to stroke alerts, but in a weird way I also love the days when I feel like a lost child in the grocery store. Those days challenge me and allow me to feel accomplished when I acquire new skills.
Something unique my hospital does to help new ICU nurses is put them through a seven week critical care academy. During this time we attend lectures, skills labs, take tests, and learn the fundamentals of critical care nursing. It provides nurses with the information and the chance to become familiar with equipment in a low stress environment. The academy has taught me the material while my preceptor has shown me the correct way to use it in my practice. The number one thing I have learned from her so far is to be proactive and not reactive. Take the extra time to set up your room with everything you need in case we have to admit a rapid response patient, or place tubing out of reach to prevent it from accidently being pulled out, or how to trend vital signs to anticipate a situation before it becomes bad. It just goes to show, even though you get your diploma nursing school never really ends [and I am lowkey thankful for that].
Story time: Every morning the physician, medical student, pharmacist, dietician, physical therapist, and social worker round on each patient. They roll up with their computers and the nurse has to present the case [yes it feels just like Grey’s Anatomy]. When I was only 4 shifts in my preceptor had to step away and help another nurse with something and as I sat there alone the crew decided to head my way. With all eyes on me, I informed them that my nurse will be right back, but the doc prompted me to begin. It was rocky but I covered everything on my report sheet and even got orders I needed for the day. Why was I so nervous though? I had given report thousands of times and presented in trauma rounds on my old floor with ease. However, this just felt different. Even though I had watched my preceptor present a few times, I had a little fear in my head that I would somehow mess it up or I would sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about. And maybe both of those things were true, but it didn’t matter because that moment made me a better nurse. That’s the goal of it all. No matter what unit you work in or what job title you hold, the ultimate goal is to be the best for your patients. I may only be four weeks in, but I know this is going to be a wonderful place for me.