The ward I usually work on was closed due to an infection, that meant no new admissions and so other wards were taking these on. Some of us were moved to help with their workload. It seemed quiet at first but we got word that at 4 pm we would be getting four admissions from Recovery, (post surgical patients).
Admitting someone (where I work), involves going to Recovery, meeting the patient and nurses looking after them, getting the hand over, (what procedure, anaesthesia, meds, details about their vital signs, inspecting the wound site, etc). Then with or without oxygen in place we wheel them back to the ward and begin monitoring them at 5, 10 or 15 minute intervals, making sure they have no pain, fetch water, socks, order a meal if necessary, in fact anything they need. Simultaneously we complete reams of paperwork about them and for the duration of their stay. We start recording fluid intake and output, pain scores, comfort scores, bowel movements, vomiting (if these things happen). We make sure their details are in the system for the shift handover, confirm their meds and other clinical issues. We look constantly for signs of trouble, fever, disorientation, change in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. With one patient, one nurse and one student this is very doable. With four patients, arriving over a short period it is bloody hard work. But in all of this, we have the patient, the banter, the reassuring, the getting to know them, the hands on care, the kind voice, giving them space to feel their fears, pain, and sometimes loneliness.
By the time we got number three settled last night we were due to handover to the night shift, but we had one more. Off we went to recovery and I have to say that my nurse mentor and I had it down pat. Like a well oiled machine we got the patient settled, happy, comfortable and documented in a flash. It was exhilarating and satisfying. we even had a ‘high five’ about our team work.
But it got me thinking, under normal circumstances there would be no student and ONE nurse would do all that. Of course, colleagues help, but by that time of night people are tending to their own patients just before handover….
It is a tough job, and so far I love it. But I felt tired in every bone in my body last night. Tired and proud and happy.