Vacation is over. Funny, how I seem to feel more tired by rest and more energized by work. Excited to get back into things tomorrow.
Spent a lot of the day today in the air. Made me think about all the nurses who help passengers on airplanes everyday. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t list “RN” after my name on tickets. But then I think about how I couldn’t possibly stay in my seat if someone was having trouble, knowing how good of an IV inserter I am, and all. Could any nurse?
Wrote to the doodlers about nurse citizens, and how every time we find someone on the street or a baby choking in the grocery store, we innovate the crap out of those situations with our assessment skills.
Subject: Why Nurses Need A Google Doodle: Day 19, Nurses As Citizens, Inefficiency & Customer Service.
April 24, 2014. 9:55PM.
I spent a lot of time in airports and on planes today. There were delays, cramped seats, long lines and a general sense of confusion and disarray. At one point, an airline worker whose brand I will not name, said to me, “Well, it’s JUST a 30 minute delay, miss.” Funny, when I wondered how that phrase would go over at the bedside, how the tune changed. A lot of life happens in a half an hour in my world.
Either way, the time in the air made me think about all of the nurses all over the country and the world who innovate as nurse citizens. On airplanes, in grocery stores, on the streets of their cities, nurses everywhere volunteer their time and skills to save people in emergency states.
I remember the first time I offered myself up as a nurse citizen, a task I dreaded for years prior. I had been in New York only a few months, when a friend and I stumbled across an older man having a seizure in the street south of Washington Square Park. Cars stopped around him, but no one seemed to be in sight. Except me, the nurse. The thoughts that went through my head at that moment in rapid fire speed could hold a contest to live tweeting during a Presidential debate. Hundreds of actions being prioritized, millions of fears abated, dozens of observations – assessments – made in a period of time no longer than the brisk walk to this man who had just made himself my patient-by-proximity.
Luckily – for all of us – his seizure broke, and he was able to walk to a bench in the park. I took what vitals I could, talked to him about his history and medications, and relayed the story to the NYC EMS that arrived promptly on the scene. Nothing much, just a lot of internal monologue. Funny, the bystanders that flocked to our side deferred quickly to me, the message that I was a nurse traveling as fast as the thoughts in my mind.
When I left, I shook, my friend guiding me to a nearby restaurant. I can remember feeling drained of my energy, warmed only by the knowledge that the situation had ended, the man was safe, and that I didn’t have to perform CPR in a park I had just discovered that day.
But plenty of nurses do. Plenty save lives, or watch them end in environments totally foreign to their normal workplaces. This – an ICU nurse getting over treating a patient in street clothes, a pediatric nurse giving CPR to an obese man – is pure innovation. Adrenaline-infused innovation, but innovation nonetheless. And this innovation stems from the one task that singlehandedly makes nurses 100% essential to all patient care: Assessment.
Describing the act of assessment, and how many assessments a nurse makes in a shift would likely rival genome mapping. The amount of observations a nurse makes in a moment – skin color, eye movement, affect, change in mood, the slight shake of a hand – is imperceptible to an outsider’s eye. When I looked at that man in the middle of the road, I saw that he was overweight, older, likely a smoker, and foreign. When I helped him to his feet, I saw his poor dentition, but noticed his articulate speech. His slow pulse despite just having a seizure made is medication list unsurprising, and his recent regimen of a medication that can cause one to lose equilibrium likely explained the entire event. I ruled out many other things in the course of our ten minute exchange, all with assessments.
Sometimes, we nurses really hate being nurse citizens. It is just hard and icky and we don’t want to see your back wound on our day off, thank you. But after that day in the park, I learned that no nurse can ever really walk away when a patient is in need.You might catch us staring at you on the subway as you clutch your chest; don’t be offended, we’re just assessing. You’ll be glad we were there.
OK, that’s all I’ve got left in my brain for today,
Amanda Anderson, RN