labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Goons to the Visitors

One thing I am noticing as a student nurse midwife is how loud nurses are. Wow. I’m not sure I am liking how this comes off. I’d imagine to visitors it appears that we can be a bunch of obnoxious goons that would prefer to eat chips and salsa while reading People magazine and gossiping. Yikes. I’d be pretty leary of the likes of us if I were one of them.

Yet I am not immune to this. When I am at work, I love when we have a moment to sit down together at the desk and trade stories and laugh our asses off. It’s fun; it makes our horrible days more bearable. I’m just as loud as any of the nurses at my clinical site.

One thing this has made me acutely aware of is how our nurse’s station is designed. Our secretary, who is the check point to any woman coming in for one reason or another, sits just in front of our nurse’s station. It’s essentially a pod like area with some tables and counter space that is halfway enclosed with glass walls. It’s not sound-proof, yet we act like it is.

I can think of countless times when a woman, who has not called her doctor to say she is coming in, just shows up at our front desk with one complaint (or more) or another. The secretary, who is always informed of who to expect at her desk, will come back to our desk and say, “So and So is here from Dr. Y’s practice. Says she’s having pain. Did anyone know she was coming?” Of which we all turn to look at poor So and So and size her up, see if she’s smiling (many times she is) and declare that my ass she has pain (a famous line by the charge nurse) and drag her feet to the triage room. There usually are many other comments from the other nurses, none of which are even said in something resembling a stage whisper. We might as well get ourselves a megaphone.

It also makes me think of the poor little medical students (many of whom are not poor nor little but they are all younger than me so as far as I’m concerned they are babies in some way) that enter our nurse’s station ever so hesitantly and when they find enough courage to cross the threshold shrink into a broken chair and slide into a corner. Is it because of us? Are we big and scary to them?

On the other hand, we have had a few that have no problems staking their territory like a male alley cat and over-powering the attending. But that’s another story.

So, what’s my point? I guess I am getting more than a nurse midwifery education here. I am finding that stepping out of the RN role makes me look at everything so differently.


AtYourCervix said...

This has been a pet peeve of mine too - our nurse's station is right there, all open, with the secretary at her area, and the charge nurse at her area. There is no privacy, and it gets very loud. Each laboring woman comes to the secretary to check in, and like your station, things are said that come off as inappropriately spoken or intoned. I wish we had a more privately designed nurse's station, so we could do some of our at the desk charting and chit-chatting in peace and quiet, away from the patients being able to hear. Because yes, we sometimes do have little chit-chat sessions in our downtime, and this is where we socialize for that little bit.

We're only human, after all!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. Made me chuckle!

On the other hand, as a patient, I have experienced firsthand a nurse making an insensitive comment without her knowing that I overheard her. It's something I'll never forget.

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

Insensitive comments about patients don't only happen at the nurses station.

When I was waiting for my "emergent" unnecesarian, my L&D nurse pointed to my naked body on the surgical table and said to the student nurse who was with her, "Look at her belly. See the way it's shaped? It's what I call the camel hump."

She seemed to have forgotten that a mother was waiting to be born on the other side of the blue curtain.

As for nurses being post-partum room happened to be directly across from the nurse's station, so the two mornings that I was there, I happened to just get to sleep at around 6 only to be awoken at 7 by cackling and gossip.

Not exactly a restful experience. We checked out approximately 50 hours after my daughter was surgically extracted from my body. I knew I was living in hell on earth and I just wanted to go home.

RN2CNM said...

I know how you feel, our nursing station is wide open with the patient rooms surrouning it, giving the nurses no privacy whatsoever when trying to get other nurses opinions on pt care or just running ideas by one another. I have yet to come across a nursing unit that actually takes the nurse into account in the design. I know our unit runs on team effort and that requires each member of the team to be abreast on the happenings and particulars of each patient and it's hard to find a place to discuss POC without violating some HIPPAA standard or offending a patient or family member.

Courtney said...

As a patient and new mother, I have to say what a negative impression the loud nurses left on me. I know nurses see it all and get annoyed by patients, etc etc etc, but birth was one of the most vulnerable and frightening experiences of my life, and overhearing the nurses' catty remarks about other patients only made me feel more vulnerable and self-conscious. I wish nurses would give patients a break. We're already freaked out enough. Getting made fun of and fearing nurses will gossip about us doesn't help.