Tuesday, March 13, 2012


So my nurse manager has been present on the unit later than usual these last few days. He’s interviewing graduate nurses for our summer influx. Between his interviews, he hovers around the desk. I think it makes the nurses nervous, but I used to work for an honest-to-god narcissistic personality disorder with an impulse control problem. Mauro used to chase us down the restaurant screaming and spitting in front of the guests, just to make sure we dropped a check in a timely manner. He was CRAZY. Hovering Nurse Manager (HNM) is easy-peasy in comparison.

It’s actually been great. I think he’s finally seeing how busy our shift can get. Yesterday, the phone was ringing nonstop, the call bells dinging and two of our surgeons were piling their charts haphazardly across half-wall of the nurses’ station. BAM! Two of the charts fell and exploded like ticker tape flutter across the floor.

The nicer of the surgeons picked up the mess and brought it to me to reorganize. The other surgeon complained to his PA about the cheap folders the hospital uses for charts. HNM whispers to me that maybe he should call another nurse in. I snorted and said that it was calm compared to the previous day and he turned new eyes toward the scene.

The resident, interrupted by her pager and a call from the covering attending, swore during her dictation. As she rushed to the PACU (something about p-waves), she called out a verbal orthopedic consult request to Mean Surgeon. He turned to Lackey PA and snidely commented that she was going to save a life. HNM turned to me and asked if I had heard her swear. I mentioned my childhood with brothers and an acutely developed selective hearing. People swear. There are bigger things to worry about.

As I shuffled through the disordered progress notes, we chatted. I mentioned my love of Nick Drake and the new discovery of Damien Rice’s music and HNM said he totally digs him! How awesome is that? I am a little resentful though that so many people have known about this great musician for so long and didn’t share the riches (Yes, I’m talking to you, Solitary Diner ☺).

I notice that the admission orders for one of the charts being reassembled demands that the patient (admitted last week) be under cardiac monitoring. OOPS. I point it out to Nurse Manager then page Cursing Resident. She calls from, ironically, the telemetry unit. I hear in the background: “GI Bleed-rapid response”. I hand the phone to HNM who takes a telephone order to discontinue cardiac monitoring.

I update the Kardex, manage a new flurry of phone calls and flag down HNM to record a critical labs result. I admit it is nice having an RN at the desk. Normally our charge takes a group and so I’m left responsible for all the mechanics of unit flow. Though I like having my finger on the pulse of the action, it sucks that there’s such limitation to my scope: I can’t take telephone orders, record critical lab results, verify medication orders or ‘waste’ narcotics (verify the use of only a partial dose) for the nurses. I sit helplessly waiting for someone certified to have time to step in.

I often stay late to finish up everything I’m allowed to (checking diets and labs, stuffing charts etc) but it sucks when there are dozens of charts to be checked (hours of work) and I’m on the elevator waving goodbye at the bleak faces of nurses with a longer night ahead of them.

This week, I hope that HNM realizes how much work gets delayed because he doesn’t schedule a nurse to run the desk after 1500. I really think that if the powers that be break it down, it would be much cheaper to eliminate my job and add a nurse to the roll call. Having a nurse at the desk would likely eliminate at least 6 hours overtime every night. That combined with my income minus said nurse’s wage would amount to more than $45,000 saved for the institution every year.

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