The Hospital Grinch

11 Dec 2006

Every couple of years, our hospital hires an outside company to find out why our employees are bummed out. They pay the company thousands of dollars to send out employee surveys, and to comply data into a report. The reports always reveal that the morale in the hospital is going down the tubes. Hospital administrators wring their hands, and offer cookies to the nursing staff to make it all better. This year I’m going to save the hospital a lot of money by telling them why our staff feels demoralized. Ready?
We work for the Grinch.

Traditionally, nurses and other hospital staff at our facility place few expectations on our hospital administrator. He signs our checks and says hello to employees in the hallway. However, every year the employees expect to receive a Christmas gift card that we can use at a local supermarket and a hospital Christmas party. The nurses especially look forward to the party. It’s the one time of the year when they can really dress up like princesses and go out to have a good time. Two weeks ago, the employees received a letter in the mail. It said,

“Dear valued employees:

In the spirit of the holidays, the administrative staff of the most wonderful hospital in the world sends you Christmas greetings. And oh yes, by the way, since we’re not making a lot of money this year, you’re not getting your gift card and we are canceling the holiday party. It’s too expensive to show you how much we appreciate all of your hard work. And since we know that our employees have big hearts, we are offering payroll deduction so you can contribute your hard earned money to pay for gift cards that will be given to the 120 employees that we pay the least throughout the year. Have a Happy New Year!”

The staff was thunderstruck. We knew the boss was cheap, but this letter would put Scrooge to shame. Frankly, I never go to the parties, and while the gift cards are nice, it won’t break my piggybank if I don’t get a card this year. What I’m upset about is the message Mr. Grinch is sending to the employees. He must not know that it’s not nice to put coal in the Christmas stockings of nurses during a nursing crisis. It’s short sighted, and it’s really a stupid thing to do. Someone forgot to tell him that nurses hold grudges and have a long memory.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Grinch.

The Princess Nurse and Steven Jobs

7 Dec 2006

A few months ago, my beloved Apple laptop had an identity crisis. It forgot it was a Mac and it started acting like a PC. I had a rotten Apple. Nurses will do anything to get their patients onto the road to recovery, and I decided to do the same for my ailing Mac.

I sat down and wrote a letter to Apple, but I wasn’t sure who to send it to. Apple is a huge corporation with offices all over the world. Nurses aren’t shrinking violets, so I decided to send my letter to Apple’s CEO, Steven Jobs. I learned a long time ago not to be intimidated by someone’s title, and that you have to ask for what you want. I knew that secretaries working for big corporations usually read the mail and deal with customer complaints. What I didn’t know was that Mr. Jobs likes to read his own mail.

I got a phone call five days after I had sent my letter off in the mail. The caller identified himself as Mr. Job’s personal assistant. He said that Mr. Jobs had read my letter and wanted to “make things right.” Apparently Mr. Jobs cringed when he read that my Apple was booting up like a PC. We talked for a few minutes, and made arrangements to have my computer repaired free of charge. I was walking past my husband’s office when he asked me who had called. He blinked with surprise when I told him what happened. My prince was proud of me. After all, I am his Princess Nurse.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs! I love my Mac.

Nurse With A Problem

6 Dec 2006

Oh my, our nurse seems to be having a problem. She’s telling her friend, Dr. Dream Boat, that she’s concerned about America’s looming health care crisis. The good doctor is telling her that there is a grassroots movement working to establish the Office of the National Nurse. He signed the petition on the National Nurse website in support of the National Nurse Act, and he is encouraging her to do the same. He is also telling her that there is a news story about the National Nurse Team in the latest edition of the American Journal of Nursing. I hope she joins the effort to improve the health of our nation. Check out the National Nurse website for more information.

The Princess Nurse and Dr. Fancy Pants

4 Dec 2006

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words regarding my last post. Some of you have asked me if my idiot doctor, Dr. Fancy Pants, knew that I work 16-hour shifts. Yes, I told him about my shifts. I also reminded him that psych nurses must be able to run away from dangerous patients when they start going off. He just looked at me and said, “Deal with it.” I know what you’re thinking, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I talked to my nursing supervisor when I went to work on Saturday, and he gave me some insight into what’s going on.

My supervisor suspects that the hospital told Dr. Fancy Pants to release me for work. He won’t tell me how he came to this conclusion. I’m the only full time nurse who works every weekend on our unit, and since I’ve been off work, two nurses have quit and another nurse has gone out on family leave. Many of our doctors are foreigners, and they depend on their employment at our hospital as a way of keeping their J-1 visa wavier. My doctor falls into this category, and if he doesn’t follow orders, he could find himself on a slow boat back to China. My supervisor has also heard Dr. Fancy Pants make derogatory comments about American women. He has said that American women are “spoiled brats” and that we demand too much from our doctors. He said that American women are nothing more than “pampered princesses.”

As a princess nurse, and as an American woman, I am offended by these comments. At the risk of sounding like an ugly American, if you don’t like our culture, go back home. There are plenty of people who are waiting in line to come to America to take your place. I’ve seen how cultural bias can influence the type of care women receive from foreign-born physicians. I’ll never forget the time when an Iranian doctor told one of my patients to go back to her abusive husband. The doctor said that as long as her husband was paying the bills, it was her duty to put up with his behavior. The doctor was a psychiatrist. The nurses told the patient to find a new doctor, and we gave her a list of shelters for abused women. We also gave her the phone number of a great divorce attorney. I’m not saying that every foreign-born physician is a chauvinist pig, but this kind of stuff does happen.

This princess nurse is sick of Dr. Fancy Pant. I am looking for a new physician.

Tears on My Pillow

3 Dec 2006

No, this post isn’t about a cheesy country western song. I just got home after working 16 hours at the hospital on crutches. My orthopedic doctor saw no reason why I couldn’t hobble up and down the halls on a sprained ankle, so he released me to go back to work. My foot and ankle are swollen and I’m in so much pain, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m not going to tell you what I think about Dr. Fancy Pants, but I’m sure you can figure it out. I’ll be happy when this weekend is over.

Will someone please give me the winning Lotto Jackpot numbers?

Cheating Hearts

30 Nov 2006

Many people who check into a hospital psychiatric unit expect the doctors and nurses to change their lives, and to make all of their problems disappear. Somehow they’ve gotten the idea that we all have a magic wand in our back pocket and that by waving it, we can make their troubles go away. While it’s true that we offer them hope through the use of medications and talk therapy, there are some things that just cannot be fixed.

I have many patients who are admitted to the unit because he or she finds out that their partner is cheating on them. I’m not going to bash one gender over the other. Men and women are equal opportunity adulterers. The circumstances are different, but the result is always the same. Trust is broken and the patient is devastated. Many patients focus on their partner, and want us to fix their mate. I understand why they do this. It’s easier to focus on someone else than it is to face the fact that a relationship is over. They may also blame themselves for the failure of their relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I feel like I’m listening to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. I hear, “But I love him/her. I can’t live without him/her.” Sometimes I have to work really hard at not being judgmental. After all, it’s not my life going up in flames, but it’s hard to watch someone pine over a cheater.

Patients always ask me for advice. They trust nurses, and they think that we are wise, but I can’t give them advice. It’s my job to get my patients to focus on themselves, and to give them the tools so they can make their own decisions. Sometimes my patients decide to get a divorce, and sometimes they don’t. I have to bite my tongue when a patient decides to take back someone that will hurt them again. I know it bothers the other nurses, too. We joke about having job security, but we’re not heartless. Nurses aren’t angels of mercy, we’re people, and that’s how we cope with what we see at work. I wish I had a magic wand so I could make patients understand that there is no cure for a cheating heart. Sometimes, it’s just best to walk away.

Are Nurses Verbal Junkies?

29 Nov 2006

According to a news story published in the Daily Mail, a new book written by a psychiatrist says that women talk more than men, and that we are verbal junkies. In her book, “The Female Mind,” Dr. Luan Brizendine writes that women talk three times more than men, and that the act of talking floods our brains with chemicals that give us a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they are high.

Look at these nurses standing by the Coke machine. When I first looked at this ad, I thought these ladies were just getting their caffeine fix for the day, but according to the good psychiatrist, they are getting a different kind of fix as well. During my long career as a nurse, I can attest to the fact that nurses love talking to each other about every subject known to mankind. But are we truly junkies? Let’s look at the facts.

People who are addicts share many common characteristics. Addicts are moody and they have huge appetites, especially for sweets. These characteristics are also prevalent among nurses. We crave chocolate, pizza, and Chinese takeout food when we are running our butts off at work, and we get moody when we work double shifts without taking a break. Ask anyone who works with nurses and they will tell you that you are risking your life if you take the last piece of pizza or the last doughnut sitting at the nurses station without permission. And yes, we love to talk. We talk about everything. There is no subject that is off limits, and it’s hard for our male colleagues to get a word in edgewise. Maybe that’s why doctors give phone orders. See the doctor on the book cover? He’s getting ready to call in phone orders because he knows that the nurse talking to him can’t talk to anyone else while she’s on the phone. He’s a smart doctor.

If nurses are junkies because we like to talk, it’s time to start Talkers Anonymous. Hello, my name is Mother Jones, RN and I’m a blaboholic.

The Perfect Woman’s Guide to Pregnancy

27 Nov 2006

In my final installment of the Perfect Woman, we will discuss Dr. Melendy’s ideas on how to have the prefect pregnancy and how to give birth to the perfect child.

In her book, The Perfect Woman, Dr. Melendy writes that only a happy woman can have the perfect pregnancy, and that the only way a woman can find happiness is to have a domineering husband and a houseful of kids. She said it was a wife’s duty to bring children into the world, hence, she discouraged the use of any type of birth control. However, she said that in a few rare cases where birth control was necessary, a woman’s only option was to use the rhythm method to prevent pregnancy. Of course, we know how well that works. I think our favorite doctor was just being sneaky because she thought everyone should be burdened with too many children.

Dr. Melendy encouraged women to rejoice in their morning sickness, and to revel in their other symptoms of pregnancy. She also told expectant mothers that a toothache is a frequent sign of pregnancy, and that they should expect to loose one tooth for every child they bring into the world. She said that God didn’t make women suffer during pregnancy and childbirth as a curse, writing, “If you suffer, it is not because you are cursed of God, but because you violate His laws.” I guess only good girls could expect to sail through their pregnancy unscathed.

Dr. Melendy suggested that the sinners among us try these remedies for conditions related to pregnancy.

Sleeplessness: Dr. Melendy writes that pregnant women of nervous temperament are often kept awake night after night without apparent cause. She said that sleeping in a cold, well-ventilated room on a hair mattress is essential in promoting a good night’s sleep. She said that taking a short walk could relieve an attack of “the fidgets” during the night. She also said that a nice Turkish bath could promote sleep.

Heartburn and Water Brash: Dr. Melendy said that heartburn and the regurgitation of watery acid from the stomach known as water brash are common and often distressing symptoms of pregnancy. She writes that digestion problems are curable by drinking crust coffee in place of water. She also instructs readers to mix 6 drops of tincture of night-blooming cereus in a full glass of water and take one tablespoon of the mixture every hour until symptoms are relieved.

Fainting: Dr. Melendy write that a delicate woman in pregnancy is apt to feel faint, and she recommended the following mixture to combat “the vapors:”
Mix 6 to 10 drops of tincture of Peruvian bark and 2 drops of tincture of Nux Vomica in a full glass of water. Take two teaspoonfuls three times a day and continue for ten days.

Sore Nipples: To treat the perfect breasts, Dr. Melendy advises women to bathe their nipples for five minutes every night and morning with either merigold ointment or with equal parts of brandy and water. Then cover nipples with soft linen, as the friction of a flannel vest would be apt to irritate them.

Dr. Melendy gives mothers advice on how to give birth to the perfect child. She tells readers that the development of a child’s moral character begins inside the womb. If a married woman reads the Bible and thinks good thoughts, she will give birth to a saint. If the mother is unmarried and gives birth to a bastard, the child will be wicked and the mother will burn in hell. Dr. Melendy also said that a woman’s thoughts during pregnancy influence the child’s physical attractiveness.

She warns that ugly thoughts make ugly babies.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts about how to become the perfect woman.

Runaway Nurse

25 Nov 2006

Have you ever thought about running away from a job, never to return again? If you have, you’re not alone. Let’s look a Nurse Stowell’s case and see why she’s running away.

“For Nurse Jennifer Stowell, flight seemed the only solution. After the scandal involving her with the head of the Octagon Hospital, Jenny fled to the peaceful beaches of Hawaii, hoping to escape the gossip, the whispers and the pointing fingers. No one, it seemed, had believed her innocent.

But on the smooth sands of Waikiki, handsome Dr. Brain Craig fell in love with Jenny. And Jenny, knowing all too well the damage that malicious gossip can do to the career of a promising young doctor, had to run again—this time from the arms of the man she loved.”

How will a determined young doctor—bent on marrying Jennifer in spite of herself—bring out the truth of an old scandal while saving the woman he loves? If he’s smart he’ll figure it out. Jennifer must have a lot on her mind. It’s hard being the subject of malicious gossip while being pursued by a rich and handsome doctor.

There are all kinds of reasons why nurses run away from a job. Sometimes they run away because they are the subjects of malicious gossip. Nurses have been gossiping since the days of Florence Nightingale, and it’s degrading to the profession. Nurses also leave jobs because they feel that their employers are exploiting them. Employers can mandate nurses to work 16-hour shifts and many hospitals have been accused of using forced overtime to fill holes in staffing schedules. Many other nurses leave the profession altogether because they are tired of not being able to give the kind of care they want to give to their patients. And then there are nurses who leave the profession because they get married and live happily ever after. Some girls have all the luck. I’ve been thinking about leaving nursing because I’m getting too old to deflect punches when someone is out of control and is trying to hit me.

I plan to run away from my job just as soon as I hit the Lotto Jackpot. But then again like the old saying goes, once a nurse, always a nurse.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Turkey

24 Nov 2006

Did you have too many cooks in your kitchen on Thanksgiving? People can get cranky when things get chaotic during the holiday season. I was watching the news today and saw a story about family members having a shootout at the dinner table. This princess nurse had a peaceful day as my prince prepared our Thanksgiving meal. We spent an enjoyable day with our family. If you’re heading out to shop today, I wish you luck finding that perfect gift and a parking spot at the mall.

Nurse Ratched

There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about medical bloggers and HIPAA regulations so let me make this very clear: I write composite stories about many different people that I've cared for over the years.

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Amanda Trujillo, MSN, RN, DNSc-NP(s) Media & Blogger Coverage