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. :)
Labels: anxiety, hospice, nursing