Talks with Women #5

In nursing school, they tried to sell all of us on the joys and self-fulfillment of becoming a nurse. Instructors tried to make nursing out to be this grandiose profession that is all rewarding. I guess from day one I realized the difference between me and a lot of my classmates…I was no Florence Nightingale.

I have been a night shift nurse since I graduated. I enjoy the night shift. It seems the family bond happens faster with night crews. There aren’t as many of us to depend on so when “the shit hits the fan” as we say, all of us are in it together. I wouldn’t trade my night family for anything.

I guess I’m luckier than most when it comes to having a spouse who is understanding about working nights. My better half is also a night shift nurse in the ICU. We were able to work things out to be on the same schedule and that just makes life easier. It’s also nice to have someone really understand what I face daily. A lot of my night family aren’t as lucky.

Night shift has its pros and cons. I can say I have seen a lot more intense situations on nights than I ever did when I worked ER on days. On the flip side, I have missed a lot of family and friends events. I’ve missed several of my son’s school functions and I will miss another this month…senior prom. We sacrifice a lot for what seems to be the good as a whole, but doesn’t mean we don’t feel the void of what we miss. Maybe that is a big part of what bonds us night shifters. We understand that we are all missing something important to come together to save others.

It’s stressful. Going from one room where you tried your hardest to save a patient to another where the patient is mad you forgot their water. This new found mentality of entitlement everyone has nowadays makes Susie Q think her sore throat is more important than the man next door that lost his battle to stay with his wife a little longer. It makes me mad that healthcare has come down to giving patient’s a spa like stay versus saving lives. That’s the downside of nursing for me…politics.

I am an ER nurse. It’s the only place that makes sense for me. No, I’m not the nurse that will blow smoke up your ass or cater to your complaints. I’m not the nurse that will baby you and let you speak to me, or my work family, any way you please. I will most likely be identified as the “mean one” out of the group, but that’s ok because at the end of the day I know I did my job and I did it right. I am the straight forward, no nonsense nurse that may give certain patients nightmares.

Working in the ER changes you, it hardens you, but those of us that work the ER know how fragile life really is and to live it to the fullest. I’m not in it for the compliments or patient satisfaction scores. I’m in it to save lives.

Cyndi, ER Nurse, Alabama  
 Photo origin unknown 

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