My name is Brenda, and I will be your Registered Nurse today.
I will be administering medications prescribed to you. I will make sure you do not have allergies to these medications, and if you do have an adverse reaction to the medication, I will use my critical thinking skills and take action! I will be watching for signs the medication is working for you as well. I am the eyes and ears of the physician.
I will deliver your baby, or grandchild, or niece/nephew in case the physician does not arrive on time. I may need to perform a vaginal exam even though we may have met only moments ago. I will be precise, yet quick as I realize how uncomfortable this is for you. I will assist you with breastfeeding, watch for hemorrhage, make sure your bladder is functioning after the trauma of childbirth, and I will intervene as needed within my scope of practice.
I will address and assess your pain needs before, or when, you ask for pain medications. I will help to re-intubate your preemie neonate in the middle of the night when he extubates himself. In other words, if your new baby stops breathing, I will save his life and help him start breathing again. I will make sure your IV is running, make sure there is no sediment or air bubbles, and if your IV infiltrates, I will take action!
I will initiate CPR if your heart stops or take action if your heart has irregular rhythms. I will check your new surgical incision for bleeding, and use my critical thinking and experience to assess if the amount of bleeding you’re having is excessive, or normative post-operative bleeding, and reinforce the dressing and call the physician as needed.
I will apply a new bag to your colostomy or other stoma, and do so with integrity, and a manner that helps ease your discomfort and embarrassment and anxiety. I will offer you and your family education about ways to troubleshoot if/when problems arise with your stoma.
I will educate you and your family about self-catheterization, and do so in a manner that is respectful. I will lift the heavy CPM machine, making sure you get your therapy as ordered, pre-medicating you with pain meds. I will educate you about your new joint, pain management, importance of routine stretches and exercise, etc. I will remind you of limitations with your new joint.
We may discuss uncomfortable subjects such as intimacy with your partner and how this may be affected by your surgery or procedure.
I will suction you if you are a patient with HIV/AIDS, and I will attempt to be assigned to you for continuity of care, not because you are an easy patient to care for, but because studies show continuity of care is best for the patient.
I will also care for you if you have MRSA, VRE, H1N1, or other communicable diseases.
I will put myself in harm’s way when an out of control psychotic teen threatens himself, his peers on the unit, my colleagues or myself. I will care for a 6-foot-3-inch tall homicidal male adult who towers above me. I will care for a major depressive adult female that I have seen at the State Fair, yet not mention this due to confidentiality and patient privacy.
I will care for an elderly patient with dementia who needs to be fed her meals, bathed with dignity, lifted out of bed with equipment requiring two or more staff despite the fact we do not have enough staff. I will crush her pills and ask peers if she prefers applesauce or ice cream best, so when I feed her the meds prescribed she might take them. I will assess for skin integrity each shift.
I will hold your hand when you are dying, or when your loved one is gravely ill. I will update and revise the Care Plan each shift as needed. I will document, document, document. I will get a second RN to verify the Insulin I give. I will get a second RN to verify my waste or return of medication, and document as such.
I will call a physician in the middle of the night to advocate for my patients even though I know this specific physician might be perturbed and attempt to invalidate me.
I will attend annual Competency Days to keep up to date on CPR, Infection Control, and other important pieces of information related to my job. I will dispose of medications in one of four disposal buckets, according to hospital policy.
I will keep up with my CEUs to maintain my professional licensure. I will conduct myself in a manner becoming of a professional RN, on and off-duty. I will attend seminars and read research articles and study while off-duty as to keep myself professionally astute.
I may go eight hours without taking a sip of any beverage or using the restroom, or work overtime during a snowstorm or a weekend or a holiday not because of overtime pay, but because patients may not have adequate staffing and my colleagues will end up having an awful shift with inadequate staffing.
I will attend committee meetings that discuss patient care, patient satisfaction and advocacy for patients, family and neighbors.
I will pray for my patients, colleagues and the leaders impacting those of us who are caring for patients professionally.
As many of us know, we are called to this profession. This is not just our job.
And, I will do this all without overtime, as to avoid disciplinary action. This is why I am here today. This is why we are here today.
Nurses deserve a fair labor contract. Nothing more, nothing less.