We The Nurses

Nurses are like cops; we get paid — not for the job we do — but for the job we may have to do. Having said that, my life of leisure, skiing, writing, reading, playing, came to an abrupt end today; I had to go back to work. I have to earn a living like everyone else, and let’s face it; someone has to pay for all this shit.

Nursing in the intensive care unit is often feast or famine. The difference between the two is walking down the hall, as opposed to running down the hall with your hair on fire. In times of famine we have the luxury of performing some higher nursing functions like cracking a medical text book, studying a disease processes, interpret lab values, or investigating the next generation of designer drugs. Sometimes we can even sit down with our patients; learn more about them and their families, so we can build better working rapports providing more holistic approaches to their care.

Feast on the other hand is when we resemble human cannon balls, running our asses off trying to stay one step ahead of a medical disaster that’s rapidly deteriorating. It’s times like these when you think it can’t get any more intense, it usually does, and we are required to ratchet it up another notch, pull out all the stops, use all the tools in our repertoire to save lives.

It’s this ability to rise to the occasion — every occasion —to enhance a favorable outcome, so at the end of the day we can turn over the reins to other professionals. These skills are not taught in schools, they come from years of experience cutting our teeth in level trauma centers in major cities. This capacity for anticipating and executing is what separates the exceptional nurses from the mediocre. In this business it’s about what you bring to the table every day. Just the thought of it makes me hungry and tired. Hey, anybody have any donuts?

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