Sentiments of a Ward Nurse
I wake up to the annoying sound of my alarm clock. 5:30 am. I’m still sleepy and my bed feels so inviting. I almost give in to the temptation of sleeping in and ditching the whole hospital duty scene. But as I began to close my eyes again, I remember a number of hopeful eyes staring back at me as I perform nursing procedures and thankful smiles of random people as I give their daily dose of medications. A flash of realization hits me: a lot of people need me today. With that thought, I scramble out of bed, do some stretching and prepare myself for a productive day ahead.
1. When you buzz and I do not come right away, it’s either I am attending to a patient at bedside, or I am assisting a doctor during his rounds. Do not storm into the station like you are my only client.
Unlike special areas like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wherein the nurse-patient ratio is 1:1, ward nurses ideally cater at least 4 patients each. However, in the Philippine setting wherein there is usually shortage in nursing staff, the ratio reaches up to 1:10 or more. In an 8-hour shift, the nurse on duty tries to balance and manage her time as she caters numbers of clients with different needs and health priorities. She tries to juggle activities such as administering medications, assisting in Doctor’s rounds, carrying out doctor’s orders and other nursing procedures all in a day of duty. Don’t fret if we don’t immediately answer your call, we assure you that we will cater you as soon as possible, after I finish attending to a patient who is complaining of intense abdominal pain and restless.
2. We are humans, too.
No matter how tough we look on the outside as we try to save lives every single day, we too, get exhausted. So bear with us a little. A day of putting up with every patient’s whim, assisting moody physicians, and performing tiring nursing activities also wear us off.
3. Yes, it is okay for your relatives to ask us to take their blood pressures, but also remember that we have other patients, too.
We don’t want to sound rude and we are not complaining, but we have more important things to do than just take BPs of your significant others. We try to jumble everything in a day’s duty. We have other patients to attend to than just you. They are entitled to be catered and cared for as best as we could and sometimes have more urgent needs to be accommodated. What would you feel if I show up a couple minutes late because I was taking blood pressures of other patient’s folks while you were vomiting like hell? No pun intended. But it sucks, right?
4. Trust me, I’m a nurse.
Ma’am/Sir, I have spent four years in nursing school learning everything I could about health, caring and the like. I passed the board exam and even spent sleepless nights reviewing for it just to be sure that I am capable of becoming a Registered Nurse. Trust me I know what I am doing. I try to do my best to give provide you with quality nursing care you could ever need. Hey, I don’t want to risk all those years by committing a negligent mistake. I love my license and I care about my job as much as I care about you and your health.
5. We are not doctor’s assistants
Oh we sure are not. We, too, like doctors, are professionals. We had to endure all those years in nursing school and pass the board exam just to operate as Registered Nurses and be of help to you. We have licenses, too, you know. We do not work for them. They are not our bosses instead we collaborate and work hand in hand with them. We work as a team just to ensure that we provide you with quality of care and to make you feel a whole lot better.
The day has ended. Feeling tired, but content, I put on a smile as I hand over my patients to the next nurse on duty. Today was a tough one. Well, actually every single day of duty is one big challenge as you become aware that a whole lot of lives are in your hands. Being a ward nurse is no easy thing. You have to deal with moody doctors, uncooperative patients and other health complaints. You have to juggle everything in 8 hours and make sure that none of your tasks has been overlooked. You have to treat each patient individually no matter how difficult they may be. Above all, with all these challenges you face every day, you only get rewarded with a meek salary.
However, despite all these, we get to go home and rest with a happy heart as we remember all those smiles we painted on our patient’s face and a simple thank you that feels like a pot-of-gold reward for all the hard work we have done throughout the day. Being a nurse is a difficult job, but it is, every single, inch worth it.