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Thursday, January 05, 2012



It's a new year. I have a new(ish) job. I have a new appreciation for how excellent my life is. I mean, I've had that appreciation for a while, pretty much since I got interested in nursing. But either my life is way more awesome recently, or my new job has sharpened my focus, or maybe both.

So yeah. I'm a hospice nurse now. This is the job I've been working toward since before I started nursing school. I work for one of the smaller hospice outfits in town, albeit the only one with an inpatient center - and I am really loving it. I'm a float nurse, which means that I don't have a regular caseload of patients that I see... instead I go see new patients every day. I could be covering for a casemanager nurse who is out sick or on vacation, I could be visiting because the patient is having a problem and needs a nurse on a day that they're not scheduled to see the casemanager, or I could be admitting a new patient to hospice services. It's kind of terrific - I'm used to meeting new patients and families every day because of my hospital background, and although my role is important for patient care, I am not ultimately the person responsible for the patient's care plan. And here's the best part: I work 7 days on followed by 7 days off. I was scared about working 7 days in a row coming out of the hospital, but it's completely fine. I see between 2 and 4 patients a day depending on their needs, and I usually get home before 3 or 4 PM and finish my charting at home. It feels like a vacation.

I'm rediscovering the joy of simple things like cooking dinner, going out for a drink with friends after work, watching a movie on a work night, and best of all, not being physically exhausted and in pain after every shift.

That's not to say it's been a piece of cake. I actually had a great deal of anxiety last week, which was my first full week on my own after orientation. In fact, I sat outside a patient's home in my car for 15 minutes having a panic attack, complete with chest pain and dizziness. If I had been my own patient, I would have done an EKG and then given some lorazepam. But instead I pulled myself together and went inside - and it was fine. I talked about it in couples counseling and again at the hospice staff support group, and getting it out in the open seems to have helped. I've worked 2 days this week so far and I feel fine.

Today I saw an elderly woman living alone and was blown away by the amount of trust she placed in me - I mean, think about this. I called her and told her I was a hospice nurse and I was coming to see her, then I show up at her (unlocked) door and let myself in, then I told her I needed to listen to her heart and lungs so she unfastened her bathrobe for me... it's a phenomenal demonstration of trust and faith that I was there to help. I feel so touched and honored that (some of) my patients feel that way.

I have a great deal to learn and I'm still a newbie - but I feel for the first time like I'm doing a job that I could do for the rest of my life. That is pretty amazing.

I hope to get back to blogging. I am sure that there will be topics I wish to process and experiences I want to share. This is a good outlet. Any nurses or prospective nurses out there who have questions? I love to talk shop. :)

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I'm so happy to hear how much you love your hospice job! I left hospice nursing four months ago because the I felt so overworked and underappreciated by the organization, it was terribly disappointed. It sounds like you're at a great place in your career and I'm excited for you.
Sounds like you are happy! I am just finishing my RN to BSN and feel truly blessed for this opportunity. I love hearing success stories and honestly that is what gets me through each day-knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Love your blog!
Congrats on your new(ish) job! I think no matter what you do in nursing, you will always feel the weight of the responsibility you have for your patients. It sounds like you have the heart for it though. Keep up the great work and keep blogging...

Emily, your blog is very informative and I'm impressed with your journey. I live in Seattle too and am writing for a friend. She has a BA in a non-nursing field and wants to be an RN. She is enrolled in the same CNA program that you attended while she finishes pre-req classes at a CC.

After talking with other RNs in Seattle, we've found that most hospitals don't want to hire folks with just RNs, they want BSNs. But you (and a few of your Shorline CC classmates) were able to land jobs at BCH right out of the ADN program. Can you tell us your secret? (I know that was pre-recession too, don't know if that had anything to do with it.) And do you plan to get a BSN or do you find that you don't need it?
Hi Emily. Hospice can be draining and also take a toll on your personal life but as long as you manage your time and don't lose sight of the important things in life like family and friends, you'll be able to find a good balance. Best of luck!
Hi, Nice site I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing. Would it be possible if I contact you through your email? Please email me back. Thanks!

Aaron Grey
aarongrey112 at gmail.com

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