Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life in the NICU - the Nurses

I have total and complete respect for the job of an RN. They work ridiculously long shifts in a high demand environment. They are up to date in knowledge of their area of nursing. They also have the people skills needed to present information to their patients (or in my case) parents of patients.
I've seen a lot of nurses in the past few weeks. The NICU we are in staffs 40. I haven't seen all 40, but I've seen a lot of them. As the parent of a patient at the NICU, I would recommend that you do your best to chat with the nurses about what is going on. There isn't a ridiculous question to ask. You need to stay best informed about what is going on. Keeping in the loop with the doctor is also very important. If you have a plan (which you will) you want to make sure it is followed. Be polite, friendly and assertive (a fine balance when you are in an unfamiliar environment I know). If your experience is anything like mine, you will see several nurses (2-3 per day). Some will only be with you once, others you will see several times. They are very good about getting updated about your child. All the nurses conference about the babies at the end of and beginning of shifts to stay in the loop. Yes, it can sometimes be frustrating to see so many different people. They all have something to offer to their job and they all have their own gifts and talents. Just keep in mind that you all have the same goal, making sure that baby is healthy and on the road for home.
While I'm talking about the nurses, let me say that I could not do what they do. A lot of these ladies (I say ladies purely because the NICU staff at the hospital we are at are all women) work 12 hour shifts. 12 hours is a long, long time, especially if you are working the 12 hour nights. Some of these women do 2 days (12 hours each), have a one day turnaround and then do 2 nights (12 hours each). I don't know how they do it. They also can have times where everything is slow going and scheduled and then all of a sudden a new baby is being admitted (or several) and everything flips into high gear. Think about it this way. You know how needy a time it is just taking care of one newborn. Now imagine looking after 2 or 3 at a time. All of these babies are on monitors. Some need oxygen. All need feeding of some kind. Some are on medications. Some are in isolettes, others are in bassinettes. And then there are parents who are in and out. There are reports and paperwork to be filled out. Measurements and vitals to take. Always keeping track of each baby. And you aren't always with the same babies. You may have a couple days in a row with one baby, but the next shift you are with a completely different child. I admire their work, I really do. I've found the nurses I've seen to be extremely helpful and kind. Professional and friendly. They are both encouraging and realistic. They make this experience one that I know I can keep on keeping on with. My hat's off to them.

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