Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Registered Nurse?

My job title is: Registered Nurse
My actual position is: Acute Care Staff Nurse on a medical-surgical orthopedic floor

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

A typical day for me actually starts at around 7pm.  When the new shift comes on, we receive ‘report’ from the previous shift.  This lets us know more about the patients than we can find out by just looking at their charts.  After report, we assess each patient and pass out any evening medications they might need.  We also help them get ready for bed, which can mean helping them wash their back or face and brushing their teeth.  With a little bit of luck most of them will be able to get some sleep, but the rest of the night consists of rounding on each patient at least every hour, re-assessing at midnight, and passing morning medications starting around 5am.  Nurses are the “eyes and ears” of the doctor, so if we catch something going wrong with a patient or if we need to have a medication changed, we have to page the doctor in the middle of the night and inform them and then take and implement any new orders they may give.  I usually leave around 7:30am.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
Although I had many jobs before this one, my only nursing-related one was in an oral surgery office for summer.  I worked in the recovery room after patients had their wisdom teeth removed or other tooth/jaw surgeries.  It helped me become comfortable with patient care and talking with doctors.

What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position? 
I completed the 4 year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Calvin.  I took my state nursing boards in the summer time, and I am registered by the state of Michigan.  You can do a two or three year program to become an RN, but you can’t advance or go onto graduate school if you don’t have a BSN.

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you?

Nursing can be very rewarding.  There’s no better feeling than when a patient wants to give you a hug at the end of a shift and thank you for all your care.  There are some patients I’ll never forget because of the friendship we developed over their stay.  A good night is when I can get all of my work done and have time left over to give a little bit of ‘extra’ care to my patients, like sitting with them for 5 or 10 minutes and just getting to know them a little better.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?
The demand for nurses is going to remain high.  I think that they are predicting a shortage of a million nurses by 2020.  Also, there are dozens and dozens of different fields of nursing you can go into.  My professors recommended getting some experience in an acute-care (hospital) setting, but there are many jobs outside of the hospital too.

How could a person find out more about your field?
I would say the best way to learn about the nursing profession is to talk to some nurses or to some nursing professors.

What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are today?

It can be competitive getting into nursing programs.  Really buckling down and trying to get good grades in the pre-nursing science classes was a big challenge, for sure, but it’s definitely doable.  Calvin offers all kinds of resources to help students.

What was your first job like after college?
I have only been at my first job for about 6 months.  The first three left my head spinning and wondering if I could hack it as a new nurse.  But with every shift things, got a little better and now I really enjoy it.  I still learn a lot every shift I work.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/25 at 10:37 AM

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