Real Nursing: A Deer in the Headlights

Real Nursing: A Deer in the Headlights

I haven’t written about my job lately. (I’m a pediatric CVICU nurse – I work with babies who are born with heart defects and kids who need heart transplants).

I’ve sat down a few times to try and write something but honeslty, I’ve been pretty really discouraged with it.

Some days as a pediatric nurse, you feel like Mother Theresa.

You’re all out there curin’ cancer and makin’ kids smile.

And other days (pretty much most days, if you’re me) you’re wondering what the heck you were thinking when you got yourself into this.

And better yet, what the heck was the management thinking? Hiring a new grad….

Someone should talk to those guys.

When you work on an ICU it’s not like you go to work, dish out some narcs and Goldfish, and call it a day.

….Ok, some days you do actually do that. But for the most part, in the ICU, the nurses have to have critical thinking skills.

And I’m talkin’ bomb critical thinking skills.

I swear some of the nurses I work with should just be doctors. They do what the docs want before they even have to ask. They work so fluidly as a team and care so well for their patients. It’s amazing. It gives me chills. They know their stuff.

I am not one of these nurses.

I’m not hiding in the med room curled up into a ball either (for the most part), but I haven’t been a nurse long enough to have that level of critical thinking.

Typically I don’t know what the doc wants before he asks for it and I get the deer in the headlights look more than I’d like to admit.

It’s so frustrating. I want to be that crazy smart nurse. I want to be the nurse that the docs love working with. I want to know what’s going to happen before it happens. I want to walk into a code and know exactly what needs to be done.

I don’t want to slow the team down or have to clarify an order 17 times. I don’t want to ask dumb questions.

Another area that can be discouraging is the amount of responsibility you have.

I used to clean houses for extra money while I was in school. Pretty much the worst thing that could happen was forgetting to clean something on the list or breaking a picture frame or something.

Peds nursing isn’t like that.

The worst thing you could do is kill someone’s child.

If you make a mistake, and I mean any mistake, no matter how small, it has the potential to be fatal. Everyday that I go to work, there are 2798974+ ways that I could hurt someone. And on top of that, I’m working with tiny babies.

A mom and a dad have trusted me with their most precious gift and I’m responsible to keep him or her alive.

Honestly, that makes me want to cry. That responsibility is so great and so heavy. It makes me feel honored and humbled and scared to death.

When you make even a small mistake, it stays with you for weeks.

A few weeks ago I misunderstood an order and over-fed a baby. And that sounds ridiculous, but a mistake like that has the potential to really hurt a cardiac baby.

It’s still bugging me.

And that kid is totally fine. Maybe just a little fatter 😉

But it just eats at me. I absolutely hate it.

This past week I had the opportunity to train three girls who are new hires on our floor. One has been an adult CVICU nurse for seven years. At the end of the week she sat down with me and spent a few minutes encouraging me. She encouraged me to look at how far I’ve come since I started. I was reminded how I really didn’t know anything back then and how now, two years later, I had just spent a week teaching a nurse of seven years a few new things.

(She was being incredibly kind here because she is one of those bombin’ nurses I was talking about. I would let her care for one of my family members in a heartbeat).

She doesn’t know how much I needed someone to speak encouraging words to me.

I know this is where God wants me to be and what He’s calling me to do, but it’s such a heavy job sometimes.

Our talk reminded me how much power encouraging words have. It really convicted me that I need to be intentional about encouraging the people I work with, because I know I’m not the only one who feels the weight of this job.

I hope the parents of my patients know their nurses love their kids, and we don’t take lightly the gift, trust, and privilege they’re giving us.

And if you’re a 2-year-old new grad like me, I hope you’ll be encouraged that you’re not the only one who feels like a deer in the headlights sometimes lots of times. It’s normal and I’m right there with you.

But God has us exactly where He wants us. He knows exactly what He’s doing and what we need from Him to get through the day. He loves our patients and families more than we ever could, and He’s the one who gives us the ability to protect and care for them.

Be encouraged and keep striving for those Mother Theresa days

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