When I began my general surgery training five years ago as a lowly intern, it did not take long to meet “M”. M was one of the more senior registered nurses (RN) who worked the night shift on our surgical floor. On meeting M, I immediately liked this woman, and I knew that she would quickly became one of my favorite nurses. Tough and experienced, M is extremely smart and a better clinician than most interns, capable of picking up the slightest hint of something wrong with a patient before physicians would recognize anything was off. M is a “no nonsense” kind of nurse; she commanded respect when working the night shift and definitely did not put up with shenanigans from my fellow interns. She was particularly hard on other services that she felt didn’t “own” their patients as well as the general surgery residents do. But M also has an incredible sense of humor, and many nights during my night float month in February 2009 were spent laughing until our stomachs hurt.
After serving as a bedside nurse on a surgical floor for 25 years, M decided to make a career move. Our hospital is in the process of training nurses to gradually replace retiring operating room staff. M applied and much to her surprise was selected to be one of the new “intern” nurses. Leaving bedside nursing to jump head first into the world of the operating room can be daunting, inspiring, and incredibly rewarding – similar to what I remember experiencing as a surgical intern. M is beginning to chronicle her journey on her new blog, and so far I’m finding the nursing point of view of what I experience on a daily basis as a surgical resident to be absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait to actually work with her again in the operating room. Below is an excerpt from the first post on her blog; check out her journey if you like what you read.
The world of OR nursing takes a very special personality – a group that is not necessarily easy to break in to… who I am kidding… nurses tend to eat their young. This is a very sad, but very true statement. The fact of the matter is, if you cannot survive the stress of being a new nurse you won’t survive happily as an experienced nurse. The job never gets easier. You are put to the ultimate test on a daily basis. You need tough skin and to be able to think fast on your feet. Your decisions can be life altering to your patients. You will experience things no one outside the profession would ever believe. You will cry. You will question yourself daily. But, you will make a difference in every life you touch, in some way. You will be amazed and amused. You will learn to love cold coffee. You will develop a bladder the size of the Titanic. You may start swearing like a sailor. Your colleagues will become family. You learn to treasure life because you see so much tragedy… and you learn to celebrate the little things.