Saturday, August 30, 2008


Last night I worked in another ICU at my hospital for the first time. The surgery schedule has been light with some surgeons on vacation, so my unit has been overstaffed with nurses. It's the way of hospitals, if one unit is overstaffed and another is under, then nurses float to even it out. Technically I'm not supposed to float until I've been off orientation for six months, but my home unit had to keep the experienced nurses to look after the complicated devices (continuous dialysis machines, intra-aortic balloon pumps, ventricular assist devices) which I cannot. Oh well, that's nursing for you.

It was great experience actually. The principle is that floated nurses shouldn't be given a difficult patient load because they're not in their regular environment. Doesn't always happen that way, but it did for me last night. My patients weren't confined to bed, had stable vital signs, and each had only one IV medication running. After assessing them, administering their meds, and performing one dressing change, I didn't have much to do for the rest of the shift aside from charting their vital signs and changing out their IV lines. Then one of my patients who had transfer orders to move to a lower level of care got a room at midnight. After I packed him up and moved him out, I only had one patient for the rest of the shift.

I was able to talk with the other nurses and get a feel for the unit which, though laid out much like the majority of ICUs at the hospital, is very different from my home unit in cardiovascular surgical recovery. With free time on my hands, I read my one patient's H&P (history and progress notes made by doctors) to get a better feel for the situation. Then I moved on to re-reading some hospital policies in an effort to A) know them better and B) stay alert. All in all, it was a nice break from the pace in CV Recovery.

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