One thing I love about nursing is the autonomy. Although we obviously have to work within certain parameters, we have the freedom to organize and prioritize our day using our own nursing judgment. I just love this. As a stuck-in-her-ways, hyper-organized person in my everyday life, I find great comfort in the list-making and planning aspect of this profession. When you’re given multiple patients to care for at once, it’s imperative to get the day somewhat organized in your mind. I call this my “think time”.
This is where you prioritize your patient care, but it also moves you from thinking about each patient INDIVIDUALLY, into how to best balance them COLLECTIVELY for the entire 12-hour shift. Believe me, it’s a very delicate dance. So, this “think time” not only benefits the patients, this is where I personally grab hold of the day, before it literally grabs hold of me.
But, then came yesterday. Forget the “think time”. Yesterday firmly grabbed hold of me very early when my phone rang with the call that nobody wants.
One of my patients was already not doing well – and I wasn’t even totally finished receiving morning shift report yet. Believe me, no “think time” was needed to figure out who would get my attention first on this day.
The first four hours of my shift were spent with this one patient who was struggling to breathe. Such a horrible thing to watch. The room quickly became full of critical care nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and all their equipment. It was amazing how everyone worked together to save this patient’s life. Finally an ICU bed became available, and this patient was transferred out of my care.
So, what about my other patients during all of this? Believe me, they were heavily on my mind. But, this is the point where the autonomy of nursing quickly flows into the teamwork of nursing. Even though we’re all ultimately responsible for our own patients, during the rough times, we help each other.
And it’s beautiful.
Throughout this entire ordeal – and what was still replaying in my mind even as I woke this morning – were the faces of my colleagues outside the door yesterday asking how they could help. We’ve all had patients go bad – we all know how much is NOT getting done with our other patients while emergencies happen. We all have experienced that drowning sensation as things start spiraling downward. We all know.
But yesterday, everyone came together as one – nurses, techs, managers, and educators – like God’s very own hedge of protection. They stepped in and protected my other patients by taking over their care until I could get to them. And they protected me, as well, as they lifted the weight of worry from my shoulders. Because of this, I had peace that everything else was under control, and I could concentrate on the very distressed patient and family right in front of me.
Again, it was beautiful.
While I don’t know what ultimately happened with that one patient yesterday, I do know that I work with an incredible group of professionals. Our unit is very fast-paced and can be absolutely crazy at times (most of the time), but I know without a doubt that I’ll never drown there. No matter who is working. We’re a family – intentionally brought together by God for a very distinct purpose. And, I’m just so very, very thankful.
While autonomy may have its charms, it’s the teamwork of nursing that is truly beautiful.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)