Thursday, July 12, 2007

ICU not for me

Today I spent the day in an ICU, the one with the highest mortality rate in the hospital rate actually. It took only an hour for me to decide that I don't want to end up in an ICU. This shocked the ICU nurses, who I must say, really really love the kind of nurses they are. But me- my favorite part of nursing is interacting with the patient, teaching them, getting feedback from them... on this unit, patients are hovering near death, the nurse is keeping them alive through brute force. The nurses seem jaded to the suffering, the pain of the family. They keep their patients heavily sedated and on lots of pain pills, which is the only humane thing to do, but I felt that the nursing in this situation was much different. Technical skills are of the utmost importance as the nurse must sometimes balance ten to twelve drips, ventilators, dialysis machines, etc. Nurses also have more independence, and the docs who come around depend on their opinion and expertise.

What they do is amazing, and I have nothing but respect for it, but I don't want to spend my life in that kind of nursing. If I did end of life care, I would want to be in hospice, helping people who have made the decision to die do so as comfortably as possible. In the ICU there is a desperation, the feeling that these patients should not be here, like this, they are gone from the process and now it is the health care team operating their body and the family praying praying praying for them to pull through.

So anyway, the other nurses simply couldn't understand why I would want to be any other kind of nurse. To them, OBS unit sounds dreadfully boring. If they have to answer a call light they think it's time for more sedation. They said to me 'oh you're one of those people who like to talk to their patients'. They said they didn't think they could teach patients. It was just very different. I thought of my old boss and her love for people. I felt proud that I think I'm just like her.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

When I read your blog, I felt like I had written it. I have just spent 7 months in an ICU, and I am debating on whether or not to stay. Thanks for making realize the reason I became a nurse and that sometimes taking a step back and remembering the patient and simply spending time with them, getting feedback from them and teaching them is more fulfilling to me than hanging drips, managing vents and shipping them back and forth from the OR. I forget that there are different types of nurses out there, and the ICU is not the only place to go.