Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Being a Nurse Has Made Me Better At....

  I used to roll my eyes every time one of my instructors gave the class the "nursing isn't just a profession  it's a lifestyle" speech. Right, how on earth was learning about drip rates and lab values going to change my life? Amazingly they were right, here are a few ways being a nurse has changed my life.

I used to be the worlds worst cook. Honestly, ask my husband, I have given him food poisoning on several occasions. My cookies always came out looking like tiny cakes and my cakes came out flat as a pancake. 

  So what changed? First, I finally have a handle on measurements, Remember all those seemingly pointless conversions they made us do in first semester, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, how many mL's are in an ounce? Now instead of trying to guesstimate how much something is, I actually do a real conversion. Guess what, that 1/4 teaspoon REALLY does make a difference. 

  Second, I learned to be patient. I was always poking at whatever was in the oven, flipping things constantly on the grill or popping the lid off the pot. Now I have learned things need time, just like you can't rush a patient into taking their meds or giving you that urine sample you needed an hour ago, you can't rush food into being done. 

  I also learned that timing and time management in cooking is pretty much the same as in nursing. When I begin my night I sit down and look at what meds I have to give and when, I look at my timed lab draws and plan out when I'm going to do things and cluster my care so that I am in the room disturbing that patient as little as possible. Cooking requires the same skill, what can be in the oven at the same time, when to start cooking what so that everything is ready at the same time. Now that I have mastered this you rarely see overcooked meat being served with under cooked sides anymore. My husband has never said anything, but I notice that he's asking for seconds now.

This one should go without saying or surprise, but it still caught me off guard. I have never really had a love for kids, as can be seen by my lack of them, but I was also never really good at entertaining them or controlling them. Perhaps this was due to a lack of interest. 

  Working an ED will teach you that the best way to keep a kids parent from bugging you is to keep their kids from bugging them. Because of this I always keep a small box in my locker full of crayons, cheap coloring books and stickers, and yes it's all bought by me with my own cash that's how much I value my sanity. Now when I head out to spend time with friend and kids I always toss one of the "sanity packs" into my purse, it's amazing how long  4 crayons and some stickers will keep a little one happy. My friends seem to think it's funny that the gal with no kids always is prepared for them.

  Oh yeah and I've learned kids aren't dumb, not even the little ones, so don't treat them like it. In the hospital they know exactly what is coming, so I never lie and tell them it won't hurt when it will and I never try the ambush tactics some nurses think actually works. When I'm around kids that I am not treating I have learned to apply that principle too, I talk to them, guess what a couple questions directed at the kiddos over lunch generally leads to less screaming for attention, go figure. If the screaming does occur I have learned that a well controlled tone of voice goes WAY further than yelling, just like with the patients, honestly kids and patients aren't all that different in the end , they just want to be treated like people and included. Weird huh?


  I've always had plenty to say and never held back in delight or in displeasure, but nursing has taught me there is an art to doing it right. In the past I have been know to just go off and heaven help anyone in my way, now I've learned to do it better.

  Meaning what? For starters I usually take a moment to step away from the problem, take a deep breath and compose myself, just like I do when I want  to tell a patient what an unreasonable jerk they are being but instead explain with a sweet smile on my face that the reason I can't give them any food is because they are going to have surgery in the AM and you can have food in your tummy when that happens in case you throw up, aspirate and die. I use that moment to order my thoughts in a logical manner so that I sound like a reasonable person not a raving lunatic, astonishingly it gets you way further.

  I also learned to take the mail to the right address. I no longer complain to the poor sod at the cash register for the long wait, he/she is probably just as ticked off about having no help, but you betcha I will take it up with the manager. Just like I hate fielding complaints over things I have no control over, I bet anyone else hates it too.

  So yes I will give my instructors their dues and say, yes they were right. There is something about being a nurse that changes you, it gets into your blood and you will never really be the same person you were before you started. 

  What has nursing taught you?


  1. Those are some very keen observations... right on! Never thought of it like that!

  2. i'm looking forward to the day when i actually feel like a real nurse.
    we're seniors now, and i don't feel any different {in knowing how to handle patients} than i did in my 2nd semester.
    its a little scary because now there is a class full of 100 freshmen looking up to us and watching everything we do.
    hopefully that day will come in the next {these last} 2 semesters.

    1. Misty one day it will sneak up on you. A fellow newbie and I were talking about that the other day how one day you just stop in the middle of what you are doing and go "WOW I'm actually doing this by myself!"

      It's a great revelation

  3. Hey, I must tell you that the way you interrelated nursing with cooking is just mind blowing , i really like that. Nice correlation made by you.

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  4. Great post. I work in peds and can tell you your "babysitting" examples are spot on. I'll give you another--reverse psychology goes a long way in peds too. I once had a patient who refused to put her socks on because she didn't want to get in the shower. So I didn't fight or argue with her, I just calmly said "That's okay Girlfriend, I know you probably can't put on your socks anyway." And turned to leave. So of course she said..."What?!? Oh yes I can!" And proceeded to defiantly put on the first sock. So then I said, "Well I bet you can't put on the other one that fast" and starting humming the jeopardy tune. Those socks were on and she was in the shower so fast she didn't know what hit her... ;-)


Hi! I love to hear what you have to say but be warned I reserve the right to whip out the Iron Paw on anyone. So play nice.