Sunday, April 21, 2019

Read 'em and Weep

I am writing this on a beautiful Easter Sunday.
So, I am trying to keep my compassion to the forefront.

It's been awhile since I have written about nursing.
While it's my chosen career, I have always hesitated to flaunt the fact. I was not 'called' to this job, but I have found that, over the years, my love of my fellow nurses has become quite fierce.

And once again, our people need defending.

Let's get the facts first:
Washington State has a bill in their senate which would mandate uninterrupted meal and rest periods for nurses.
Senator Maureen Walsh, Republican, gave an argument against this bill stating that in smaller hospitals, the nurses probably play cards for a significant part of their day.

In a way, she wasn't wrong.

From the first day of clinicals, I 'played cards' – those would be the 4x5 file cards on which Care Plans are written. For nursing students, these were a way to learn about each diagnosis, its treatment and then a devised plan of care for each individual patient. We were required to do three of these plans per patient for each clinical day. At first it was only one patient and plan but as our learning advanced it was multiple patients and multiple plans. All needing to be done in the evening before the early morning clinicals, after a day of lectures and study.

I also played 'cards' with those wonderful MedCards. These were smaller 3x5 cards on which were written EVERY medication the above patient was on, the drug's classification, action, side effects and doses.

Today, those plans and medcards are digital.
But so are poker cards so guess I can see how someone might be confused.

Senator Walsh's comment has generated a flurry of memes on social media, all in regards to the Cards nurses play.
We play with CARDizem, NiCARDipine – just two of the CARDiac drugs used to save lives.
My current fav is the black and white of Florence Nightingale dealing black jack circa 1800's...
They are pretty hilarious.
And naturally, someone began complaining asking why, if we were offended, are memes the best way to show it.

It's one of those 'If I don't laugh, I'll cry' situations.

Earlier this week I read a story about a nurse in Louisiana who was attacked by a patient during her job and a week later died, most likely of injuries incurred in that attack.

Does this sound like a person who wants to be known as working in a profession that 'plays cards' for most of the day?

Thankfully, the legal system has determined this a homicide.

I say 'thankfully' as for most of my career we were to look the other way when a patient became physical. The reasoning being, these people are not themselves. And, we are there to help.

But, our world has gotten less reasonable.
And nursing has gotten more and more difficult.
We have gone from 8 hour shifts, covering a 'team' of 8-10 patients with the help of one or two aides, to 10 or 12 hour shifts in a 'primary care' environment of 4 to 6 to 8 patients with only one or two aides on the entire unit.
These patients are sicker, the medications and instrumentation more complicated and the environment more volatile.
And the nursing population is getting older.
We need more people to enter this career.

And how is this going to happen when people like Senator Walsh seems to believe all nurses do is sit around a play cards?

But, now that I think about it, maybe we should adopt her philosophy....

Come one and all, join the ranks of NURSES!
Learn how to start IV's and give medications safely!
Learn how to identify critical cardiac rhythms and treat them before your patient dies!
Learn how to simultaneously care for the guy who just killed a family of four in a drunken car accident, comfort a young woman who has terminal cancer, recover a fresh kidney transplant patient! All while basking in the luxurious spa-like atmosphere of the clean utility room where you quickly grab a granola bar half-way through your 12 hour shift because eating and drinking in patient care areas is not allowed and 'resources' are stretched so that lunch break may not happen.
Find the strength inside yourself to repeat these things daily and still see hope in this world! Because that is the only way its possible to return day after day to a profession that has lost the respect it so well deserves.

Now deal my hand.
I'm ready to place a bet...

My cap. Note the bobby pin rust stain in the center...

(For more of my nursing posts, check out the tab 'It's a Living' at the top of the page.)