Staff Registered Nurse Doug T. Johnson (Right) taking instructions from Anesthesiologist Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arlene J. Hudson (Left) of US Navy – Photo Courtesy: Military Health
Considered working as a Registered Nurse? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told toÂ nursingjobs.net and is one of many interviews with nursing professionals which among others include aÂ Nursing Supervisor, aÂ Neonatal Registered Nurse, and everything in between.
I am a retired registered nurse who obtained an Associate Degree in Nursing in 1979 from a local university and immediately went to work in a hospital in the area. Over the years, I moved around to other hospitals, usually for a better schedule or a bonus offering, and continued my education until I finally obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1991.
When I graduated in 1979 and went to work, I was in for a rude awakening. My husband did not want me to work shift work so the only way to work the day shift was to work on a PRN (as needed) basis. While my classmates were assigned to permanent units that became familiar to them, I was forced to walk into nursing service every morning and be assigned to a different and unfamiliar floor.
I was literally thrown to the sharks because it did not matter whether I was a new graduate or not, I was expected to know and function as well as a registered nurse who had been working for the hospital for years. I barely knew what I was doing even though I had been through clinical training in college, so I stayed in panic mode most of the time. When you work PRN, you are usually given the worst patients on the floor.
The floor I would be assigned to might have forty patients with only three registered nurses and four nurseâ€™s aides assigned to the floor that day. One nurse would run the desk, since this was before unit secretaries existed, and the other two would be responsible for twenty patients each with only nurseâ€™s aides to help with the patients. I had to give all of the medications while a nightmare situation would be transpiring in the pharmacy department, do all the procedures, start and maintain all of the IVs, carry out all of the doctorâ€™s orders, handle any emergency that might arise, and document in the charts about everything that transpired with the patient during the day.
Clinical Training and Experience
If I could go back through my college years again, I would complain more about my clinical training in college. The tuition for my college education was extremely high and I feel as if I got swindled during my clinical experience. The classroom instructors were very good and the whole class scored high on our state board exams but possessing book knowledge does not always translate well in the real world if you have not had competent instructions in a clinical setting. I had to learn the hard way how to take care of patients after I went to work.
I finally convinced my husband that I had to work shift work and was assigned to a permanent floor which relieved some of my stress. This also qualified me for a pay increase and a generous benefit package that included sick pay and vacation time.
I eventually transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital. Over the years, even when I have worked in other hospitals, I have primarily worked in the cardiac care units because I am fascinated with this specialty. A nurse that works in any type of intensive care unit must learn to operate complex equipment and carry out numerous special procedures. A nurse must intelligently interpret the data obtained from the monitors and equipment that is attached to the patients so that they can decide if the numbers are abnormal and whether a call should be placed to the doctor or to simply use the standing orders left on the chart. EKG monitors in CCU are very important devices since the rhythms displayed reflect how well the heart is functioning. An erroneous interpretation can put a patient in harmâ€™s way.
Charge Nurse Position
During most of my career I was usually assigned the charge nurse position because I am a responsible and decisive person who works well with other nurses. On two evaluations, one of my head nurses proclaimed that I was a head nurseâ€™s dream. I was working the midnight shift at that time. She based this statement on the fact that after I took charge of that shift, the doctors had stopped knocking her office door down every morning to complain about too many calls being placed to them during the night. I always managed to resolve most of the problems that arose with the patients and rarely placed a call to a doctor at night.
Being a charge nurse is not easy and takes good social skills to function effectively. I am a Caucasian female who has worked with several other races throughout my nursing career. When evaluating other nurses, I do not base my opinion of them due to their race or skin color but usually judge them on their merits and their ability to work in a harmonious manner with the rest of the nursing team.
More Respect for Nurses
While I had a lot of negative experiences in nursing, I would not trade my decision to become a nurse for anything in the world. It is my understanding that the nursing profession has improved dramatically and that the nurses are treated with more respect. I have been told that the newly graduated nurses are more assertive in demanding their rights and standing up for themselves. This is my biggest regret while working as a registered nurse; I simply did as I was told and should have made more of an effort to improve my working conditions.
Patricia C has a degree in International Relations and enjoys learning from other cultures and traveling.