Work With Me People!

I'm Not A New Nurse Anymore!

Now that I've hit my one year mark and completed the residency, I'm officially flying solo in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU.) When people ask how it's going, I've accepted the fact that there is no way to really describe my job. 

When I say I actually enjoy working in an Intensive Care Unit, people often give me a weird look of concern, and I haven’t figured out how to follow up from there. But what I do know is I won't soon forget the exact day that I realized it was meant for me. 

I Belong
The day I knew I belonged on the unit was a couple weeks into my orientation, after a patient we all truly cared for (and practically saw grow up) passed away early in the shift. We all knew it was coming, and were almost sadly relieved to see his suffering finally end after an awfully long fight. 

And just like that we had to get back to work. It felt so surreal and inhumane, having to deal with tedious tasks after losing a life. I thought this was only in my head because I was new, and I feared that maybe PICU wasn't for me after all.

I stuck with it and did my work anyway. I couldn't see how I was supposed to make it to the end of the shift. This feeling nagged at me until I was stuck in the medication room, lost in a fog of why I went in there in the first place.  That was until another nurse walked in, looked at me and said the most wonderful thing: she couldn't remember why she went in there either. It was then that I realized that what I was experiencing was shared by those around me, too.

The Roller Coaster Ride
We laughed about it, and talked about how all we really wanted to do was relax and eat frozen yogurt: our unit's comfort food of choice. This idea quickly got around, and gave us all something to look forward to. I felt a new wave of energy, and was able to make it dry-eyed through the end of my shift until we went to get frozen yogurt later that day. 

We spent our break reminiscing about this special boy, each sharing our own stories about him. It was then I realized I would never be alone in my work experiences, and seeing a senior staff member care the way she did made me hopeful that this experience wouldn't jade me anytime soon.

Your Turn
Since you will undoubtedly experience an emotional roller coaster in just one shift, I’ve discovered rule number one to surviving an ICU: love who you work with! When it just seems to be too much, you better have someone else to lean on… because frozen yogurt can only go so far.

It has officially been a year since I began my journey at All Children's. For whatever reason, MTV chose not to pursue me as the star of their new reality series "Nurse Nation" (yes, that is a real show.) The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far: it is so much easier to leave behind the chaos of a day when it's been shared amongst people who understand. When I was a new nurse and my friends asked how my day was, I typically shared a funny story or two of something I had experienced for the first time. 
Now, I've started realizing my responses get shorter and shorter. Not because I've run out of stories by any means. Now I'm able to leave those stories at the hospital where they belong.

- Marianna 

fro-yo pic