Everyone who has been reading in this blog site knows that I hate to be floated to other units coz I have written a post about being floated earlier. Last night was another “nightmare in nursing street.”
After reporting for work in my own unit, I was told that I need to be floated to E.R. I felt so bad hearing that but I had no choice coz everybody was being rotated to be floated where there was lack of staff, and so it was my turn last night. I hurriedly went down to ER to catch up the endorsement there. The nurses there were quite nice to welcome me though and that eased my discomfort a bit.
I was assigned two beds at the treatment area. I thought, hey this is going to be okay. Two patients is better than six to seven patients back in my home unit. But then in a few minutes, I suddenly felt the fast-paced atmosphere in ER. My patients stayed in the bed for like 1-2 hours only and was replaced by another patient as soon as the other one left. I haven’t even finished documenting and discharging the previous ones, I was forced to take another one coz the patient was placed already on the bed waiting for a nurse to attend to him/her. I wasn’t able to count how many patients I had the whole night but it was just too many.
I was used to taking care of male adult surgery patients and this has been my work for the last eight years (seven years in another country). Last night, I had to take female patients – one was even a case of vaginal bleeding! I told the charge nurse about this issue but I was told that patient sex is not a concern in ER and that male ER nurses take female patients with no problems. Ah okay, I forgot that I was an ER nurse-in-an-instant now. I had to pull a female nurse’s arm to help me attend to that patient who was about to have a vaginal exam. In this country where culture is a great concern, I had to be careful with nursing female patients. And I had several of them last night.
And there was a baby patient too! Pediatric nursing was never my cup of tea, and I can’t even cannulate a small baby’s arm! And yes, I had to take care of the poor baby whose parents had to settle with a nurse who has no experience with babies, except his own. My very first unit since I started my nursing career in the Philippines was pediatric ward. I thought that it would be fun dealing with babies and children. But then, realizing that it was sick babies and children I was taking care of, I just couldn’t cope up, that I had to resign and transfer to another hospital (I couldn’t transfer to another unit soon enough). Now, I had to face a sick baby again, and worst – in an emergency setting. How safe can I be to him was a question in my mind while taking care of him.
Add to my frustrations was my inadequate orientation to the work area. The first and last time I was floated in ER, I was in the Resuscitation Area. Now I was in the Treatment area with about 15 beds. I was given a quick orientation of the outgoing nurse, but of course, that would never be enough. For a short period of time I had to know what the routines of the unit were, figure out where the supplies were, orient myself to the new surrounding, and deal with a different patient load. Not to mention the unfamiliar faces I had to work with.
I had to mention that the nurses who were in the Treatment Area were quite helpful to me. I asked too many questions and requested so many help and they tried to assist me in anyhow. I knew they were so busy themselves but I had no choice but to force somebody to face me and answer my queries. It was a big night last night for ER and there were several major road accidents that the department was dealing with. Getting somebody to teach me how to operate pieces of medical equipment, and how to work with their computer system was a tough thing to do.
It was too frustrating and stressful being floated. Last night was too exhausting – physically, mentally and emotionally. I am still having a major headache while writing this post. I felt writing what my head wants to say could somehow ease my stressed brain cells.
Although floating is sometimes justified to keep a safe staffing level to the area where the nurse is being floated, I sometimes feel that it could be better if the nurse from the same unit is called in (as overtime or return time). He would know what to do in emergency situations,and the people in the unit would know his capacity as a nurse. Also, I would like to acknowledge that floating gives nurses the opportunity to widen nursing knowledge. But then, it isn’t training, when you get your own live patients, and that people who will be training you will be busy taking care of their own patients. We don’t risk patient safety and satisfaction with the intent of training a nurse.
Although I know that nurse floatation is an issue in most hospitals in many countries, not just here, I feel it is an issue that needs to be looked at. I know that I am not alone who gets this feeling whenever a nurse is floated. Being floated is just too stressful for the nurse. I am just not being negative. I am just thinking out loud.