“People would want to work here because of the exciting challenge and the adrenalin rush of helping seriously ill patients, and the fabulous feeling you get when you send them back to their lives.”
I work on a ward that deals with seriously ill people. We have 10 beds, 4 are for intensive care and the others are HDC - 'high dependency care' - beds (demanding a slightly less concentrated level of attention). There are 8 other staff on the ward: we each work pretty much one-to-one with patients, night or day, for five 7.5 hour shifts in a week.
If I'm working day-shifts then I arrive at 7.30am for the hand-over of patients, led by the ward co-ordinator. All the important medical information about each person is passed on to the new team, then each nurse is assigned the patient they'll be caring for all that day. I might be dealing with someone who's been seriously injured in a road accident, someone struggling with a long-term illness (like pneumonia, heart problems, blood poisoning) or someone recovering from major surgery.
The job entails taking care of every one of the patient's needs. Through the day I'll be changing dressings, feeding the patient (often into their vein, or maybe through tube in their throat) looking after eyes, and ears and toilet needs. A lot of the time I'll be closely monitoring and registering all the support equipment needed to keep the patient alive. Today I've been looking after a lovely lady who developed blood poisoning after surgery on her stomach. I've been managing the machines and the drugs that are keeping her blood circulating and her blood pressure stable, chatting, reassuring and generally trying to make her more comfortable.
It can be emotionally quite draining here, you have to be able keep pretty balanced. The job moves between such extremes; from the really sad times when everything you do is just not enough to help, to the fantastic sense of achievement you get when you say goodbye to a patient who is well on the road to recovery.