A Day in the Life: Registered Nurse



A Day in the Life: Registered Nurse in a Pediatric Hospital

6 a.m.   Alarm goes off.  Firecracker out of bed, wash face, brush teeth, put on scrubs, put on oh so sexy compression stockings using special rubber gloves (waste of time*), cram breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bag, jump in car, and on the road by 6:13 a.m.

*Compression socks are basically knee high socks made of spandex, measured specifically to fit your leg and apply a certain amount of pressure.  Nurses wear them to prevent sore legs and nasty looking varicose and spider veins when we’re older.  They are really tight and I have to put them on with special gloves that have grippy things on them because you can’t just pull them on or it’ll ruin the tightness if you keep stretching them, so I kind of have to roll/massage them on with the grippy gloves.. That’s why it’s a waste of time, takes like an extra 5 mins to put socks on!!

6:30 a.m.   No free parking available on the street – ugh – I loathe construction and early birds! Begrudgingly park in the pay lot underground.

6:40 a.m.   Switch into sexy nursing clogs (I complain but they’re the best back saving purchase I’ve ever made).

6:45 a.m.   Check the list to find out which unit I’m working on 10 minutes before starting my shift (ah the life of a float nurse!*).  Please not oncology, please not oncology**… oh thank goodness, general medical floor!!

*Float nurses don’t work in the same unit every day.  I’m trained in a variety of places and basically fill in when there is a sick call or vacation coverage (unlike a ward nurse would be on the same unit all the time and have a permanent position in that one unit).

**My dislike of oncology is just a personal preference.  It is really hard/sad working with on this ward – the kids are so incredibly sick, they’re in there for such a long, and they don’t always go home any better, they often get sicker and sicker and lots of times they end up dying.

7:30 a.m.   Finish report which seems to go on unnecessarily for 30 minutes, call bell rings… already? kill me… this is going to be a long day!  It’s parents ringing me to weigh their baby’s poopy diaper… really? really? leave it on the scale… I’ll be in soon.  Ugh… new parents…

8 a.m.   Find myself a 6″ space in the tiny med room, amongst 10 other nurses, to crush 17 tablets using ancient pestle and mortar, mix with water annnnd someone bumps me! Meds on the floor!  Start again.  But wait, we don’t have any extra meds in the unit, call the pharmacy… and wait..

10 a.m.   Finish morning assessments, attempt to chart, but alas! med student has stolen my clipboard.  Hunt down med student, who then proceeds to ask me 1001 questions that could be answered by looking at the paperwork on my clipboard (that he stole), answer his questions… trying to walk away… im in a rush… steal clipboard, find somewhere quite to chart… and call bell… ugh

10:15 a.m.   Morning break (at last!).  Get me out of this mad house! Take my food and get OFF the unit… outside I go… 30 minutes to eat and do personal errands, pay VISA online, book massage, talk with friends, etc… and back to the unit.

10:45 a.m.   Back to work.  Bells ringing, parents complaining, med students taking up my precious time.

12 noon   Next round of vital signs… quick, easy, done, relax

12:45 p.m.   LUNCH!  I need to microwave my food, wait 6 minutes while the powerless microwave attempts to reheat my leftovers.  I give up, I’ll eat them cold.  Weakness setting in, too lazy to leave unit and get some vitamin D, laze on couch for 45 minutes staring at a TV that seems only to ever play TLC or food network…

2 p.m.   Parents needs a break.  Yay!!  I will gladly cuddle your baby while you go for a walk…Yay! baby time baby time baby time!!  This is the highlight of my day!!

3 p.m.   6 year old’s IV “falls out” (ugh uncontrollable orangutan).  Call IV team to restart IV, 3 nurses and 2 parents hold down 6 year old while hearing damage worsens with every second longer this takes and blood curdling screams ensue.  Failed 1st attempt, I don’t blame them, this kid is squirming like crazy!  2nd attempt, oh great, now he knows what’s coming for him.  More squirming, more force applied, deaf in one ear, success!!  Give him a popsicle and prize from the prize box, and now we’re best friends again.

4 p.m.   Check more vital signs.  Parents don’t want blood pressure or temperature done on their napping child because it will wake them (if we can’t monitor your child who is sick enough to be in the hospital, then you should probably go home and nurse them back to health yourself!).  Educate parents on monitoring, don’t give me those sad puppy eyes, I’ll come back in 30 minutes and try again.

4:30 p.m.   Child still sleeping – Sorry I need to do my job and monitor your child.  Parents hate that I’m their child’s nurse today.  Vital signs done, child still asleep!  Yes, praise me, you want me back now don’t you…Super stealth nurse…the stealthiest!

6 p.m.   Shift ending soon, watching the clock hardcore.  Charge nurse phones and wants me to take an admission?  with only an hour left on my shift?  Obligingly say yes.

6:30 p.m.   Where is my admission?!  Call Emerg…on their way up…finally!

6:40 p.m.   Start admission.  Get report, do vital signs, tour parents around, chicken scratch some charting down… the entire time I’m thinking I refuse to stay late, I refuse to stay late, I deserve to have a life, I refuse to stay late, I m leaving on time dammit!

7 p.m.   Where is the nurse I need to give handover to?  Not here yet?  Great.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Watching clock, pacing floor.  Ah there she is, still has her bag on and hasn’t settled in yet, too bad… I’m outta here… give report, and twelve hours after starting my shift, I clock out…

7:12 p.m.   Forgot I parked underground.  Wait in line to pay along with the 100 other nurses who parked in the parkade and all get off at the same time.

7:40 p.m.   Get home.  Consider spending the next two hours daydreaming…but there just isn’t enough time in the day.  Instead – eat, shower, pack lunch for tomorrow, crawl into bed

10 p.m.   Must go to sleep… alarm will go off to do it all again in 8 hours

11 p.m.   Shit!  Still awake.  Can’t stop watching Glee.

Midnight   Come on mind, turn off… go to sleep… alarm will go off in 6 hours now!