Add it to the List Sometimes

Add it to the List Sometimes, the amount of work a nurse as to do seems insurmountable. On top of all the seemingly endless tasks, theres also the person who calls every five minutes or some question for the doctor. You can get bogged down with your lists and tasks and forget why we're really doing what we're doing. Nursing is not a to do list to be completed, hours to count, or charts to file. You have to truly connect with and understand people in order to be a nurse, and that is not something that gets put on our countless lists and tasks. Empathy is something we talk about in nursing school and residency, and I remember thinking, "Well duh. Of course I'll be empathetic. Why are they teaching us this?". I think a lot of new nurses feel that way, that sure we may need help with medications or treatments, but by-golly we're great with people. We are going to be the most caring, empathetic, connected nurses ever. But then we start our work and our lists and nursing seems like more of a race to the finish line than a work of heart. This is the story of how I truly learned that lesson. I had a late admit to rehab, and later admits are always stressful. They add more things to my perfectly crafted list, and I probably wasn't expecting an admit at 6pm. I have to get them situated, do an assessment and skin check, have them sign forms, and explain rehab to them. May patients and sometimes even nurses aren't quite sure what goes on across the street at rehab, and it can be a lengthy process to explain how we will help them. On top of my late admit, I have medications to give, some charting to finish, and my report for the night shift to go over. My patient arrives, and she's a very sweet old lady who happens to be a retired nurse. In this story, we'll call her Daisy. Daisy was alert and oriented, but I could tell she wasn't comprehending everything I was explaining to her. Daisy even fell asleep while I was talking. I went over the information as best as I could, vowing to reiterate teaching and talk to her daughter when she arrived. I finished up her admit along with the rest of my tasks for the day. I felt like I was running around crazy for 8 hours, not just 1. I could not wait to pass my patients onto the night nurse and go home to get some sleep. As the night nurse and I go into Daisy's room, her daughter arrives. We'll call her Jane here. The night nurse and I introduced ourselves, and I decide to go over admit education. It's 715, I think I have plenty of time. I'm able to get through how rehab works just fine, but there is something on the daughter's mind. Jane is understandably very worried about her mom. Daisy had brain surgery with complications and will likely no longer be able to take care of herself. She told me how her mother, even in her mid 80s, is a very independent woman. Daisy lives by herself in a cute town house with her dog. She is able to drive, cook, clean her house. Jane tells me repeatedly how her mother "never wanted to be like this". My new patient is sound asleep, looking very small in her new hospital bed. I'm sure she looks even smaller to Jane. It's 730. It's time for me to go home. I've checked all my boxes. I sit down at the table, and Jane sits with me. I listen to her talk about her mom, all the things she used to do, what kind of nurse she was, and how she's afraid because her mom hasn't been the same since her surgery. I reassure Jane that we'll take great care of her mother, and get her as strong as she can possibly be before whatever comes next. But she really doesn't need or want my reasurance now, Jane just wants me to listen to her. She expresses her worries about her mother making progress, and especially what she's going to do with Dasiy's beloved dog. As I listen to her, that feeling of racing the clock ends. I feel like I'm truly present and connecting with a family. We finally reach a point where Jane is ready to go home and get some sleep, after much convincing from me. I walk out and the night staff is amazed that i'm still here. A mental note is made to add connect to my daily list. It's 815. I'm late, tired, and I have to be back here in less than 12 hours. But I've never felt better about being a nurse.