Angela - Putting Patients First
I’m really excited about my new role – I’m a charge nurse, and I really like that a lot. Problem solving and helping other people figure out how they can do their job better are things I enjoy. There are a lot of younger nurses on this floor, who maybe only have a couple of years’ experience, and it’s really hard for them sometimes to start off on med/surg, because the patients can be very demanding. Things don’t always go smoothly.
We recently had a patient - a lady in her 90’s. Mentally she was still quite sharp, but she was legally blind. I was the charge nurse on the day this lady was supposed to be discharged. Transportation arrangements had been made for her, but she got tired of waiting and decided she was just going to walk home. Here she is, legally blind and attempting to walk home.“We can’t always fix the physical things. But we can help lift people’s spirits.” We had to call security to return her to the hospital and keep her there until she could be discharged into someone’s care. Meanwhile, I discovered the nurse who was handling the discharge hadn’t filled out any of the paperwork. Additionally, when I told her what was going on with the patient, she said she needed to take a break. I was incredulous! It seemed like this nurse was putting her needs over those of her patient. Ultimately, I ended up going downstairs myself and going over the discharge instructions with the lady, and then helped get her into a cab.
I’ve been a charge nurse for just a short while, and in retrospect, I should have denied the nurse right there in that moment and told her it was not the time to take a break, and that she had to take care of her patient. But at the time I was just more frustrated than anything and I was focused on ensuring the lady’s safety and getting her discharged. But the episode kind of got to me. For me, the patient always comes first.
I’m passionate about the chance I have to make people feel better. We can’t always fix the physical things. But we can help lift people’s spirits. Nobody likes to be in the hospital, so you might as well try to make people happy while they are there. Or at least just make it tolerable for them.
When I first started in this career, I thought it was going to be mostly about stitches and medicine. I’ve found it’s more intellectual than I anticipated. Yes, there is still quite a lot of physical work, of course, like medications and dressing changes. But, at least on this floor, it’s more about supporting your patients and trying to make their lives better for them.
Still, there are days when I count down the hours to the end of my shift. Everybody has those. But in general, I feel like I’m making a difference, not just for my patients but for the staff too. I try to bring listening skills and a compassionate method sort things out to meet most of everybody’s needs. I know you can’t please everybody all the time, but I try to do my best to meet people halfway. Sometimes I get positive feedback like, “I love having you as charge nurse.” That’s my reward.
Power Strategies: Achievement, Responsibility, Compassion
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