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Walking A Mile In Their Shoes March 29, 2007

Posted by 5 Wester in General Announcements.
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We had the privilege of visiting the new Children’s hospital ER last weekend.

My son had been complaining of a tummy ache. He had already seen a doctor earlier that week but was still complaining to a point he wakes up in the middle of the night. We had no choice but to go to the ER for a visit. It was 9:45 p.m. when we got there and the room was about 90% full with patients still coming in. After the usual registration procedure we were instructed to take a seat.

Fifteen minutes pass and we heard a call “5 Wester’s son”, (kewl) I thought to myself. I make my way to the registration desk and the lady asked me to sign some papers while she explained what they were for. “Do we go in now?”, I asked. “No”, she said, “just take a seat and we’ll call you”. And so we did… sat there an waited.

The Children’s Hospital ER was pretty nice. It had an aquarium towards the back of the lobby. It was fairly spacious and had comfortable chairs. You see the usual stuff like a vending machines tucked away in a corner, a drinking fountain, restrooms and, of course, a TV. The room was well lit and painted with colors that remind you of a day care center. The registration booths were adorned with a vines and figures of monkeys hanging from it. It was a nonthreatening environment especially to children, although I would say, quite confusing because I did see adult patients being brought in. Other than that, we were there enjoying our time… waiting, and waiting… and waiting.

It was now 12:45 a.m., 3 hours had passed since we first got in when we heard “5 Wester’s son”. Good, I thought to myself, we’re next. My wife takes my boy to the triage room. The nurse takes his vital signs, fills out some forms, then instructs my wife to do what we’ve been doing for the last 3 hours…. So we sit there and wait… and wait… and wait….

It was now 2:45 a.m., 5 hours had passed since we first got in. We finally got called and was escorted to an examination room. My son was placed on the gurney, vitals were taken, then an IV started and blood drawn. After recovering from the initial scare of the IV start and blood draw, things started to quiet down a bit. We then proceeded with our usual activity… waiting… and waiting… and waiting.

It was now 5:30 a.m., 8 hours and 45 minutes since we first got in. By this time the whole family was practically asleep… my son on the gurney, so tired he forgot about his tummy ache, his sister at the foot part, their oldest sister perched on a bedside table, my wife beside her, and me holding our youngest daughter. We’ve finished all the snack food we brought and practically drank all the Gatoraide. The ER was now practically empty, most rooms were dark and only a few patients left. Finally the doctor came to see him. After a short physical examination and history taking he leaves to review the abdominal xrays they took earlier.

It is now 6:45, 9 hours since we got to the ER the night before. The nurse gives us our discharge papers. Diagnosis: Gas. Yup, we spent about 9 hours just to know that my son has gas. At least it’s not serious, we can go home and sleep now. Could you imagine what our patients go through? I guess it’s hard to appreciate this until we experience it ourselves. No wonder we call them patient… you must be patient to be one!

Overall I think the staff at the Children’s Hospital ER is doing a good job in dealing with whatever comes their way. It would be nice though if the staff would introduce themselves on initial contact, from registration desk to attending nurse. It takes care of that question in your mind, “who are you?”. The only one that introduced himself was the doctor. Then there’s that question of “why do we have to wait so long?”. I wonder if there was anything we could do to streamline or speed up the process. I know there is one hospital that guarantees you’ll see a doctor in 15 minutes (Valley Baptist if I’m not mistaken). If that was the case, maybe we can learn from them. On the other hand, maybe we just need more staff.

If there’s anything we learned that day it is this…. come to the ER prepared, i.e, bring a book, your laptop, plenty of food and drink, and a blanket. Once you set foot in the door expect to be there for the next 10 to 12 hours. Come to the ER at 5 in the morning, it seems to be the least busiest time (this may not be typical though). Finally, eat right and stay healthy. Its less expensive to keep out of the hospital than spend $200 and 9 hours waiting for a doctor to tell you that “you have gas!” 🙂


I Feel Your Pain March 16, 2007

Posted by 5 Wester in General Announcements.
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Today my boy wanted to play on the computer. He’s 5 years old.

Just like boys his age, he gets excited when he’s about to do something that he enjoys. As any excited boy would be doing, he was jumping up and down and running around the home office while my wife was setting up for him to play on noggin.com.

I heard him crying from across the hall so I ran up to see what the matter was. Unfortunately as he was running around, his foot landed on the pointy end of a desk stand… ouch! After a thorough physical assessment, we gave him some first aid… an ice pack and some TLC from mommy. He’s fine, just a little bruise. I had cautioned him not to be running around in the home office many times before, but I guess from his excitement he forgot, and because of this he got hurt.

It would have been easy for me to scold him and say, “see, I told you so!”, but instead I felt his pain. We don’t want our children to get hurt. That’s why we caution them and warn them of the possible consequences of their actions. Then my thoughts drifted to how our Heavenly Father must be with us too. I’m sure He’s given us many warnings in our life about the consequences of our actions because just like a loving parent, he doesn’t want us to get hurt. But how many times do we know this and yet continue on our stubborn ways until finally, we do get hurt.

It makes me wonder about the patients we take care of. Most of them end up at the hospital because of the consequences of their actions too…. The patient with liver failure due to years of alcohol abuse. The man dying from lung cancer thanks to the macho image projected by the Marlboro man. The young biker with a skull fracture and a ripped off jaw because he refuses to wear his helmet. The 23-year-old stroke victim because of a cocaine overdose. The dad who lost this little girl because he did not put her in her car seat. The list goes on and on….

As health care workers do we just take care of their illness while they are in the hospital, or do we help them see the bigger picture and hopefully educate to help them live better and healthier lives? I know it’s kinda hard for us to try to point out what they’re not doing right, after all, we may think, “who am I to judge?”. I believe we have the opportunity to educate our patient’s about what they need to do in order for them to live better.

Let’s not forget that we can make a difference helping them realize that healthful living is within their reach… they just have to know it.

Graduate Nurse vs Experience Nurse March 8, 2007

Posted by 5 Wester in General Announcements.


I came across an interesting article while working in the ICU one day and I though I’d share it with you.

Unfortunately I don’t know who the author is (if you know, please drop me a line… I’d love to give credit where credit is due!) You can also find this on the internet by clicking on this link.

“More Truth Than Humor”

A graduate nurse throws up when the patient does.
An experienced nurse calls housekeeping when a patient throws up.

A graduate nurse wears so many pins on their name
badge you can’t read it.
An experienced nurse doesn’t wear a name badge for liability reasons.

A graduate nurse charts too much.
An experienced nurse doesn’t chart enough.

A graduate nurse loves to run codes.
An experienced nurse makes graduate nurses run to codes.

A graduate nurse wants everyone to know they are a nurse.
An experienced nurse doesn’t want anyone to know they are a nurse.

A graduate nurse keeps detailed notes on a pad.
An experienced nurse writes on the back of their hand, paper scraps,
napkins, etc.

A graduate nurse will spend all day trying to reorient a patient.
An experienced nurse will chart the patient is disoriented and restrain

A graduate nurse can hear a beeping I-med at 50 yards.
An experienced nurse can’t hear any alarms at any distance.

A graduate nurse loves to hear abnormal heart and breath sounds.
An experienced nurse doesn’t even want to hear about them
unless the patient is symptomatic.

A graduate nurse spends 2 hours giving a patient a bath.
An experienced nurse lets the CNA give the patient a bath.

A graduate nurse thinks people respect nurses.
An experienced nurse knows everybody blames everything on the nurse.

A graduate nurse looks for blood on a bandage hoping they will get to
change it.
An experienced nurse knows a little blood never hurt anybody.

A graduate nurse looks for a chance “to work with the family”.
An experienced nurse avoids the family.

A graduate nurse expects meds and supplies to be delivered on time.
An experienced nurse expects them to never be delivered at all.

A graduate nurse will spend days bladder training an incontinent patient.
An experienced nurse will insert a Foley catheter.

A graduate nurse always answers their phone.
An experienced nurse checks their caller ID before answering the phone.

A graduate nurse thinks psych patients are interesting.
An experienced nurse thinks psych patients are crazy.

A graduate nurse carries reference books in their bag.
An experienced nurse carries magazines, lunch and some “cough syrup”
in their bag.

A graduate nurse doesn’t find this funny.
An experienced nurse does. 🙂

12 years ago I wouldn’t find this funny. Today all I can say is… “it’s true!”

As you probably know, no matter how much knowledge you have, you still can’t replace someone with more experience. Unfortunately this is the case with our profession (and others for that matter). Old nurses are leaving simply because most of them have reached retirement, and there is not a whole lot of new, young nurses stepping up to the plate to take their place. Most new graduates may be book smart, however, it does take experience to be able to have the confidence to know how and when to apply those skills and scientific knowledge learned in the classroom, onto the actual clinical setting.

I suppose the advantage an experienced nurse has is just that… experience. We all have the same educational background (we all graduated from nursing school). We all have the same license. The only thing that sets us apart is experience.

As a nurse of 12 years, I could consider myself a “teenager” when it comes to nursing. Being around nurses with 30+ years experience do have some advantages… you get to learn from them and hopefully, they’ll be able to pass on the knowledge that they’ve gained onto the next generation of nurses. I suppose this is what I’d like to be able to do, i.e., pass on my knowledge and experience onto the new generation of nurses. This is why I wouldn’t expect much from a new grad, not to put them down or anything, just that they may not have the experience we already have. I guess time has a way of making us forget that we were once new grads too.

Having this in mind, I’d like to challenge you, the fine nurses of 5 West to be more mindful of your fellow nurses. I know the frustration of having to get report from an inexperienced nurse, and for this, we need more patience. I wouldn’t dare expect a new grad to perform up to my level of expertise. It’s like expecting a newborn to start walking on their own. They may have the book smarts, but they are still suckling babes. Like the newborn, these new nurses need the tender loving care and support of the more “matured” and experienced ones. We need to be able to teach them well and guide them on the right path. Lets not forget that we were once in their shoes. After all, we’re only as good as what we have experienced. Let’s make their journey into the nursing field a memorable and pleasant one, shall we?