Saturday, September 19, 2009

A marathon of a nursing post

I haven’t posted all week!  Yikes!  That’s probably because I’ve had a miserable, miserable week.  Work has been an absolute nightmare all week, and today I sat staring at my phone, hoping to be cancelled for the night.  I know my turn is coming up again soon.  Let’s backtrack and see why this week was so…not fun.  I hope you have something to drink because this is going to be LONG.


Seven nurses, no nursing assistants.  I had an admission (a young person admitted with diarrhea, otherwise healthy), and I didn’t get her vital signs by the time the doctor came around.  I should have gotten them, but with only four blood pressure/temperature things floating around and seven nurses trying to do vital signs at the same time, I didn’t get to her.  While an admission is a priority, so is my 80-something year old woman who I found with an oxygen saturation of 75% on room air (apparently the last shift forgot her oxygen??).  Of course, the doctor decided he needed to speak with me NOW, while I’m trying to get my other patient’s oxygen saturation back up to an acceptable level.  Basically, he told me that I needed to get the vital signs (to which I said, “okay”…it wasn’t anything I didn’t know), then told me “No, you can’t just say okay, you need to get them.”  (I’ve been standing here for five seconds…)  Then told me that I need to get my nursing assistant to do them. 

I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying, “We don’t have any nursing assistants.”  Anyway, she asked that the patient have a new nurse.  Nothing says “welcome back” like “you suck as a nurse.”  Whatever, no one likes this doctor anyway.  The patient was upset about having to be stuck multiple times for IVs and labs and what not and almost signed out AMA.  I often wonder why some people even come to the hospital at all.


Since we are having so few patients, management is really trying to crack down on any overtime.  Which is fine, I don’t really want to be there past 11:30 anyway, but many times it’s not in my control.  My manager told us that we should be efficient by three-six months, so she doesn’t understand why we late.  We told her that we often don’t even get a dinner break, or at least that the “full half hour” that we’re “entitled to”  (aka:  not getting paid for).  I actually had a good night until I got a post-op at 9:30 and an admission at 10:00.  I clocked out around midnight.  No worries, I got yelled at on Wednesday for not leaving all the admission paperwork for night shift…which is obviously what the next shift wants.  The oncoming nurse already gave me a hard time because I didn’t give the post-op one of her medications.  But everything else was done!


I don’t even want to talk about this day.  I swear this hospital is setting me up to fail.  I’ve been a nurse for four months (as of today…Friday, that is), and many people say that it takes one-two years before you actually feel comfortable.  I spend a lot of time asking questions and looking things up because I don’t want to make a mistake, and it’s even more difficult when you’re feeling the pressure to not get out late.  I’m doing the best I can!  I started with five patients, one of who I was waiting to come back from surgery.  All of my remaining patients had some sort of electrolyte replacement running, two had blood products infusing, and one was getting a bowel prep (don’t ask if you don’t already know!), but she was too nauseated to drink it.  One of the families interrupted our report in the hallway to ask for mashed potatoes for dinner (obviously an emergency).  Then, I got an admission from a doctor’s office, so she needed an IV started and labs drawn and all that stuff because she didn’t come through the ER.  Then she needed to go for a test, but was complaining because she didn’t get to eat yet and her med schedule was all messed up.  She actually yelled at me later in the night.  About twenty minutes after that admission came, my other patient came back from surgery.  This family was absolutely ridiculous…they stood in the hallway and stared at me as a ran around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I don’t want to go into too much detail (for HIPPA reasons), but if you are a doctor, and your family member is the patient, please know when it is appropriate to hunt me down in the hallway to point out when you think something is wrong.  If the machine says your family member doesn’t have a pulse, but she is happily chatting away, you, as a physician, should know that she indeed does have a pulse.  Or should at least know how to check for it.  Please don’t attack me the hallway (when I have a handful of stuff) and ask me what’s wrong.  Because nothing is wrong, your family member just moved her finger the wrong way.

Okay, this is really long.  Long story short, I ended up sobbing (literally) at least three times and tearing up multiple more times.  I could not get caught up at all…I passed my 5pm medications at 6:30, etc etc.  I was terrified to go into work today because I knew my manager would be yelling at me about not being efficient and getting out on time.  The night nurse was talking to the nursing administrator and said something like, “They really need to stop short-staffing second shift.  Over 75% of those nurses have less than one year of experience, and they expect them to take patient assignments that even seasoned nurses would have trouble managing.  We’re either going to push them out of nursing or out of this hospital.”  THANK YOU.  I almost quit yesterday.  No joke.


Praise be to God, I had the day off.  I went for a dentist appointment to have cavities filled, but the dentist said he didn’t need to fill them…back to bed!  I slept until one in the afternoon.  Glorious.

That is, until my neighbor came and yelled at me.  When I first moved here, I had my credit card statements sent to the wrong address (I can be a bit dyslexic with numbers), and I didn’t realize it because I actually pay my credit cards online.  She came and talked to my roommate about it, and I switched my address.  My mom ordered me a magazine and apparently switched the numbers as well, so the magazine went back to the same lady.  She must have brought it over when my roommate was home, but I’m sure the magazine sold my address to some ad companies, so she got junk mail for me.  She brought it over and told me that it was “really bothering her” that she was getting my mail and that I needed to change my address immediately.  I told her I can no clue what the mail even was.  Honestly…if it bothers you that much, just throw it out!  Nothing important is coming to your house.

People here are so unfriendly.


Not too bad of a day, outside of a family yelling at me within ten minutes of being there.  They wanted to go home and the patient needed an IV taken out.  I need to get report so the day nurse can go home (and therefore not get yelled at…), so you can hold on for twenty minutes.  I actually caught the patient as he was walking out into the hallway to go home with his IV in.  People in this world are so impatient.  Overall, I had a pretty good night (once I talked myself out of crying in the parking lot before going in).  I got out on time, so hopefully no one yells at me on Monday.  I really hate this place.


Doesn’t this sound like fun?  I’m going to do a “life post” on where I might want to head in the future…I can’t keep going on like this.  Last time my parents were here, my mom actually suggested I go talk to someone…like a counselor/psychiatrist or something.  Everyone says that this is normal for a new nurse, but this is miserable.  I often dread going to work.  I like nursing…I think.  I just hate not knowing what I’m doing (or at least not being confident in it…) and getting yelled at for not being perfect…it’s only been four months!  Gah.


It’s safe to say that I’ve also had a pretty blah week when it comes to running.  Something in my right leg doesn’t feel right…I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I need better shoes for work.  I just wear an old pair of running shoes that probably don’t have any support anymore.  I need to look into that…

Short and sweet because I really don’t have much to report…

Tuesday, September 15
6.01 miles in 52:41, avg pace of 8:46

Painful run, I couldn’t wait for it to be over.  I actually had a 9:03 mile in there.  It was uphill, at least.

Wednesday, September 16
6.03 miles in 49:23, avg pace of 8:11

I ran behind two bikers for about two miles…so annoying!  I didn’t want to speed up because I wanted to take it easier, but it was so annoying to be fifteen yards behind them for so long.  They clearly weren’t cruising at all since I wasn’t even going that fast…

Thursday, September 17
14.16 miles in 1:54:01, avg pace of 8:03

An awesome run with negative splits.  I ran in the afternoon since I slept the day away, but it was still cool out so that was nice.  People were actually running on the trail since it was later in the day, and I think I passed the entire local high school cross country team.  Woo!  This was a good length for a run…I needed a longer-ish run to clear my head a little, so this felt great.  I like medium-long runs because you can feel accomplished running for so long, but you don’t feel like you’re dying at the end.  Works for me.


Working the weekend this weekend…I hope it’s not terrible.  Thanks to anyone for reading all my complaints…I need to vent somewhere and I think my real life people are growing tired of my misery…


  1. susan, i am SO sorry! i wonder if a lot of it is WHERE you are working -- our nurses are super busy but most of them actually seem really happy with their jobs! and i really do think people are nicer down south -- that is probably a huge bonus in the health care field.

  2. Hey Susan, sorry to hear about your sucky week. I can relate somewhat because lately I consider it an excellent day if i don't get yelled at by a nurse, a colleague, or a patient. I used to wonder if i'm indeed doing a good job if I don't get any compliments for a day, a week, or a month. Now I don't ask because if I have to wonder, I know I'm in the wrong profession!

    I guess the only bit of advice I can share with you is not to take all the yelling/criticism so personally, especially when it comes from patients/doctors making irrational demands. Sometimes, actually most of the time, they're all stressed out for one reason or another and just waiting for an opportunity to lash out, and you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, given our current economic climate where hospitals are trying to cut costs whereever they can, you will have more work, more responsibility, and less time than you can handle...because otherwise, you can probably handle more. Hopefully that makes some sense.

    I hope you have a better weekend than you did during the week, and maybe get more time and peace of mind to do more awesome running!

  3. Geez!! I have had days like those, but not all in a row. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with people to be so rude as well. I've also had people obviously interrupt me during something clearly important to ask me for something to drink or related to food. I'm sorry, does it say "Waitress" or "RN" in big letters under my name? ANYWAY, that's the freakin' floors for ya!!
    I don't know what to say...are there any other good hospitals in your area? Perhaps you could transfer to a different area in the same hospital after 6 months??
    It is hard in the beginning, but I don't think you should have to feel like sobbing every night you go into work. Have you thought about switching shifts? I would seriously sit down with your manager and discuss what is happening; he or she may have a solution. I don't know how nice/understanding your manager is though...


  4. Good-NIGHT! This post made me so stressed out, just reading it. I'm really sorry that you're having such a rough time at work. It really does sound like your situation is unnaturally bad. If you think that looking for other options might make you feel better, I wouldn't try to dissuade you!

    Bottom line: You shouldn't dread work this much. It seems like it's wearing you down!

  5. Susan,
    I'm SO SORRY you had such a miserable week. I have been there myself. I always feel that one bad thing (at work) tends to lead to's like you lose your focus, you're trying to catch up, trying to break the negative mood, and NOTHING seems to go your way. I've felt like you've felt so many times. I've been a nurse for over two years now and believe me it DOES get better, but I've still had nights like you've described, even now. I just try to go in with the best attitude I can. And I've worked really hard on organizing my time. It all takes time. I think you are doing an AWESOME job. And I don't think how you feel is all that different from how lots of nurses feel. The job is underpaid for the responsibilities we have. Is there anyone at work that you can just vent with during the shift? Usually when I am having a bad night, I'll go into the med room and just vent for two minutes, then take a deep breath and head out into the trenches again. If you ever want to chat/vent, feel free to email me at 3-11 is one of the toughest shifts out there. Is it possible to move to a night shift? Or can you not do nights? Much better in my opinion :) Good luck. You sound like a great nurse. You care about your patients and that's what is so frustrating for you--no one is recognizing it! I mean, some people would actually just ignore problems...believe me, I've seen it!
    Take care and love your blog!

  6. Aww Susan, I'm so sorry that you had a horrible week at work. It sucks that you are on a shift that is the worse staffed, making it harder for you to do the work. Like,lamintor said, try not to take the criticism too personal. You ARE probably there at the wrong time and unfortunately, have to be the bearer of the grunt of it all. Hang in there. I'm sure with time, it'll get easier. Really, it will.

  7. Susan I'm so sorry you had a bad week at work! Especially after having such a great one at home! I hope things at work get better soon, but you know what, if they don't it's not the end of the world. You seem like a smart girl (you are a nurse!) and you're young and so the possibilities are endless. It's good that you have this blog with such great support and also your runs to help you clear things up in your head. Swim/bike/running is so therapeutic for me and I don't know where I'd be without it!

    We really need to get out and run, or even just go to Twist! Twist cures all ailments. Are you out here the weekend of Oct. 10? Have a GREAT weekend!

    And PS. I love the Brooks!

  8. I almost cried reading your post. I thought you were home all this time enjoying your time off...little did I know you were already back and having such a rough week. Something needs to change m'dear. What is up with all those temperamental people!? Chill out folks. I wanted to talk back to the doc so badly for you (on Mon) haha. It's okay to tear up and cry. I do it all the time. It really does make things better...or atleast seem that way.

    Gosh, I really do hope things turn up or you find somewhere else/something else. That is no way to live.

  9. I'm so sorry for your horrible week. It sounds like a really draining environment to work in. Everytime I'm in the hospital, I think of how hard nurses have it. You are doing a great job; people are just rude and impatient. Hang in there!

  10. My hospital (I'm not a nurse) is giving staff bonuses for recruiting RNs right now. Want to move to Oregon? :)

    Seriously - sorry you had such a crap week. I hope next week is better for you. It sucks to be so stressed out that you dread going into work.

  11. Sorry you are having such an AWFUL time at work! My advice, go look for a new job elsewhere! I never had that bad of an experience, they are just being really awful to ya'll!

  12. Hey girlie sounds like you need a good vacation. Move to NY! People say we're not friendly people but it sounds better then your sitch! You gotta do what makes you happy THATS what's important! I hope you have a better week and find time to relax a little. mucho love your way :)

  13. It makes me sad that everyone is saying this is normal and you will get through it. Well, who will you be when you get through all of this? Tough and not empathetic? Bitter? Do you really want to toughen up to this?

    Sorry, that wasn't helpful, and I am sure you are thinking about all of that. If it helps to talk to a therapist, I would go for it. It's nice to have someone to let it all out to.