"Oh, I couldn't do your job to save my life," or "how can you stand to do those things?" Both questions are often asked of nurses. When people ask me this question I just shrug my shoulders and say, well, it's all in a day's work.
But I still realize that there are many things nurses can do that others just don't have the stomach for, or the heart. Here are a few things that nurses can do that others can't:
1. Watching and participating in surgery without hitting the floor because you passed out. If you're not into blood, then nursing may not be the best career choice for you. The sight of blood has never made me feel faint. But working in surgery I've seen many people turn bright green first thing in the morning, when they haven't eaten, and they see blood for the first time during a case. I honestly can't understand it, and I feel sorry for the people who feel like they want to toss their cookies at the sight of an above-the-knee amputation first thing in the morning.
2. Decubitus Ulcers-When you look at your textbook, you really don't get a good feel for what a deep pressure ulcer looks and SMELLS like. I love cleaning them and getting the infection out. I know I'm sick, but someone has to do this stuff, right?
3. You haven't lived till you've emptied a colostomy bag. There's no feeling quite like holding a bag of excrement, and the smell is fairly disturbing. I don't think a non-nurse would agree to this chore for all the tea in China.
4. Cleaning under those skin folds. How can you possibly say you've done a complete assessment unless you've taken a gander under those folds? You can find lots of things under there. Redness, chaffing, rashes, infections, and biscuits. Yes, that's right! I found a biscuit under the breast of a 400 LB man. I think he was saving it for later.
5. Okay, now we used to have a general surgeon who would do wound care on patients, and while he had them in surgery, he would cut their toenails. Now, believe me when I say that I have had my hands in so many orifices and smelled the most ghastly smells, but there is something awful about seeing toenails flying across the room. Even I can't handle this. These toenails are fungal infected, hard and yellow. Okay, eeew.
6. Now here's a party most folks would rather miss. How about sputum samples? Wow, so you have a sticky, wet, productive cough, and your doctor has ordered a nice little culture. So why not direct that cough over here so I can get a lovely, gooey sample. Thanks a bunch!
7. Why is it even necessary to do a manual disimpaction? If you are constipated because you haven't pooped in 10 days, do you think we can do anything in the emergency room that you can't do at home? Sticking a finger in and digging for gold is more than what I like to do during my shift. For goodness sakes, drink more water and get a little more fiber, stay home and dig for chocolate yourself.
8. I'd much rather give an oral, IM, SC or IV medication than giving the rectal route. It's just not pleasant for either party. I wouldn't want someone doing that to me, and I'd rather not do this to others.
9. Tossing your cookies? Here let me try to catch them with this ridiculously shaped emesis basin. Why is this thing shaped like a kidney? Most of the time the vomit makes it to the bed clothes, the floor and on the scrubs of the lucky nurse who's playing catch the barf! There has to be a better way?
So, you see, for all you non-nurses, this is an example of just a few of the things nurses do during a day's work. Probably why many of you chose not to become nurses. But for nurses, regardless of how nasty and dirty our job is at times; when we see one patient leave in better shape than they were when they came in, it makes our whole world great, and we know we chose the right career. Three cheers for nurses everywhere! We rock!
What dirty chores do you want to share? Comment Below!