America’s Heroes

9 Sep 2011

This picture really hit me. That’s because I’m sitting in the middle of a flood. I’m OK, but a lot of people aren’t. Unfortunately, floods and other disasters keep coming around and they cause chaos and misery whenever they strike. This photo shows a Red Cross doctor and nurse caring for a mother and her son during the Missouri River flood of 1952. Thankfully the mother and child reached the safety of the Red Cross shelter, which undoubtedly was being staffed by volunteers and first responders who were worried about their own homes and families. I’m very grateful for people who are willing to put their personal concerns aside when things get bleak.

I want to thank all first responders and volunteers, America’s heroes, as we prepare to observe 9/11, one of the bleakest days in our nation’s history. The men and women who responded to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks are awe-inspiring. They put aside their own personal safety and concerns when our nation need them most, and unfortunately, ten years later, many are paying a very high price. Countless 9/11 first responders have developed Trade Center cough and cancer is a growing threat. Congress passed a bill in January that provides $1.5 billion for the treatment of breathing disorders and mental health problems, and $2 billion in compensation for those affected. The bill must be renewed in five years.

Let’s pitch in and support our heroes by urging Congress to support funding designated for first responders. They were there for us on 9/11. Let’s be there for them.

Go Ask Mother: The Interview

3 Sep 2011

Mark Lamers from Online Nursing contacted me for an interview. Mark, I’m flattered. People tell me that I give good interviews because I’m very opinionated. Mark asked some thought provoking questions and one of them really stood out. He asked me about something that I wrote on my blog a long time ago. The post read, “I was also taught that anyone willing to work long, hard hours could obtain the American Dream. I’m a nurse for life, which means I’m not going to retire. In other words, I’m going to die with my Nurse Mates on.” Mark asked, “At this point in your career, it is safe to say you’ve worked long hard hours as a compassionate caregiver. In retrospect, is that American Dream now your story? What would provide the happy ending? What were the necessary steps to get there?

Answer: Yes Mark, I am living the American Dream thanks to my parents and to my nursing instructors. I learned my work ethic through their example. My parents worked hard and made sacrifices so I could have a better life, and my teachers passed on their knowledge and wisdom when I was under their tutelage. With their support I was able to work weekends as a nursing assistant which allowed me to gain extra bedside nursing experience and graduated as one of the top students in my class. My life is blessed thanks to those who came before me and prepared the path that I followed.

People who want to be a nurse must understand that the profession is demanding. I have worked countless weekends, night shifts, and holidays, and I have trudged through blinding snowstorms, hurricanes, and floods to get into work. Personal issues must be set aside. Patient care always comes first. Nursing also has its rewards. Nurses bear witness to the most intimate moments in a patient’s life. I’ve held newborn babies in my arms, and I’ve held the hand of the dying. I’m honored that I’ve been a part of so many lives.

What would provide my happy ending? I hope that I can keep just one nurse from throwing in the towel by passing on what I’ve learned. I am going to die with my Nurse Mates on because it’s who I am. Once you are a nurse, you are a nurse forever.

I’ll let you know when the whole interview is posted.

The Night of the Hurricane

27 Aug 2011

Meet Nurse Julie Eustance. Nothing rattles her. She remains calm, cool, and collected as a hurricane approaches her private Caribbean island. I’m not sure what’s going on with her friend, Simon Tiernan. He looks a little shellshocked. Some people just handle stress.

We’ve had a wild week on the East Coast. First we had a surprise earthquake roll through and now Hurricane Irene is roaring up the coast. There’s been something else happening here this week despite Mother Nature’s wild mood swings. Military nurses stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center have been transferring patients to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I want to give a hat tip to all the nurses involved in this big undertaking. They fulfilled their mission. They gave wounded warriors world class nursing care while transferring them to another facility during an earthquake that rocked the D.C. area, and while Hurricane Irene tried blowing us off the map. I’ve always said that American military nurses are the most highly trained and dedicated nurses in the world, and they just proved it again. Nurse Julie is impressed, too. She admires nurses who don’t get rattled.

To all American military nurses: Thank you for your service to our country.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Working Night Shifts

14 Aug 2011

I wonder how many cups of coffee an average night nurse consumes during their shift. Look, there’s someone we can ask, although it looks like her caffeine buzz is wearing off. Notice the telltale chin to chest head tip that gives sleep deprived nurses away. She may look like she’s charting, but she really is in a twilight sleep.

Working nights isn’t for wimps. Neither is working holidays and weekends. You are always short of help, and BIG things seem to go wrong just as the day shift staff heads out the door. I always thought that I was just paranoid about working the off shifts, but Muhammad Saleem from RN Central sent me some information that validated my observations. I’ve posted their research results below. I’ve lived through a lot of these situations. I’ve seen seasoned nurses nod off at the desk at 3AM because they’ve been working their butts off, and I’ve worked with doctors who don’t answer pages promptly during evening hours and on weekends even though they are on call. I’ve also worked with new residences who are unable to write coherent orders until the third week of their rotation. Sometimes I’ve wondered why more things don’t go wrong in a hospital.

I think their information looks accurate. What do you think?

Hospital Night Shift
Research and design by Nursing Schools Site

Refrigerator Nurse

7 Aug 2011

Meet Nurse Prudence Perfect. She is the unit’s refrigerator nurse. It’s her job to make sure that everything is perfect and meets Joint Commission standards because you never know when the old JC will drop by for an unannounced visit. Insulin vials labeled and dated? Check. Refrigerator thermometer easily accessible and log up to date? Check. Hey, who put their lunch in here? There is to be no food in medication refrigerator! Prudence is gearing up. Stand by for one of her Joint Commission inservices.

For you nursing history buffs, the term “refrigerator nurse” goes way back to a time when Prudence was a graduate nurse. The term was coined back when it only took one paycheck to support a family, and when nurses, typically women, quit working once they got married. A nurse who went back to work after she was married in order to buy luxury items for her family, such as a refrigerator, was known as a refrigerator nurse. Some have suggested that these nurses were less dedicated to their patients and to the nursing profession, but this is simply not true. It was a different time back then. Women who went back to work after they got married broke with convention. They were rebels and some of the best nurses I’ve known.

This week, I also became a refrigerator nurse, but not in the classic sense. My refrigerator gave out after 13 years of service, so I selected a new model from Lowes and had it delivered to my home. Lowes uses a company called Big E Transportation to make its home deliveries. The delivery guys were sweethearts, but they looked wiped out. I could tell that one of the guys was suffering from back pain because he walked with a stiff gait, and the other guy looked like he was ready to keel over. It was hot outside so I invited them to take a break and I offered them a cool drink. As we sat together at the kitchen table, I asked them when they were going to get their next day off. They looked at each other and hesitated, then one said to the other, “Should I tell her, or should you?” The guys told me that they work seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, and that they don’t get paid by the hour. They get paid by the day. I did the math and it comes out to less than minimum wage. I also found out that the guy with the bad back never saw a doctor because he doesn’t have health insurance. I asked him what he was taking for pain and he pulled out a couple of different bottles of pain pills that he had picked up from friends and relatives. He was taking a potentially hazardous combination of pills. I quickly did some patient teaching about why you can’t take other people’s medications, and then I gave him the name of doctor in town who charges patients on a sliding scale.

Shame on you Lowes and Big E Transportation for exploiting your workers and for redefining what it means to be a refrigerator nurse.

Birthday Greetings from Steve Jobs

26 Jul 2011

I’m about to turn 29 years old for the 27th time in a row, and in honor of my upcoming birthday, my mother sent me a list of stores that offer senior discounts. (Thanks, Mom). I looked it over and noticed that the Apple Store was missing from the list. I was sure that this was an oversight. Seriously. Even Fuddruckers gives a 10% discount on senior platters, so I went to the Apple website to check it out.

I was surprised when I learned that Apple gives a nice discount to college students, but not to older folks like me. I found this to be a little disconcerting. After all, Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, the genius and guiding force behind Apple is no spring chicken. Then it dawned on me. Maybe Steve is planning a big surprise for baby boomers this year and he’s just waiting for the right moment to give us our gifts. Well Steve, my friends are throwing me a birthday party at IHOP: 10% off (55+), but feel free to drop by with my free gift, like an iPad. We will save you a place at the table.

Breaking Up With Walter Reed

21 Jul 2011

Dear Walter:

This isn’t easy for me to say, but it’s over. I’m breaking up with you.

I don’t know where to begin. It was love at first sight. I saw you standing in the horizon and my heart fluttered. You are an imposing presence, and your name is synonymous for compassionate care. I thought we would spend the rest of my nursing career together, but it wasn’t meant to be. Don’t blame yourself, Walter. It’s not you, it’s me. Fate brought us together and BRAC is tearing us apart. I’m moving on, and I’m finding joy in my new life with someone else. I’ll always love you, Walter. Believe me when I tell you that you never forget your first love, or your first government job.

All the best, Mother Jones, RN.

Talk to the Monkey

21 Jul 2011

The good people from
are putting together some information on what it’s like to start out in the nursing field, and Mr. Monkey and I are getting the word out about a couple of surveys over at One survey is focused on what the nursing field is really like , and other asks for top NCLEX tips. They will be posting the general survey results soon. So get with it.

The monkey is listening.

Miss Moneypenny, RN

17 Jul 2011

We’ve all heard about the exploits of Secret Agent James Bond, but few of us know much about Miss Moneypenny. She is secretary to M, who is Bond’s boss and head of the British Secret Service. Well, if the news media is reporting this story accurately, I believe that Miss Moneypenny and her girlfriends who work at the CIA attended nursing school on their off hours from work.

According UPI Asia Online, the CIA faked a vaccination program near Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout before the raid that killed him hoping to get his family’s DNA. They wanted to get evidence that bin Laden’s family lived where the CIA believed the al-Qaida leader was hiding out.

At one point, a nurse managed to gain entry into bin Laden’s compound to administer the vaccines, and possibly record conversations, or leave behind a surveillance device.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn about surveillance devices in nursing school. I think James taught Miss Moneypenny more than just how to make a darn good martini .

Treadmills, Hot Guys, and Nurses

13 Jul 2011

Meet Mr. Hot Guy. He’s my workout buddy. Actually, he doesn’t know that I exsist, but I make sure that I’m in the gym whenever he’s there. No, I’m not a stalker, just an admirer of the finer things of life. He occasionally gives me brief, superficial eye contact. I wonder what he’s thinking about. Maybe he likes plump older ladies.

I love watching Hot Guy work out on the treadmill, and so do all the other menopausal women in the gym. In a way, the treadmill reminds me of the nursing profession. There are days when nurses expend so much energy at work. We know our feet and arms are moving as we run up and down the halls all day long, yet we feel like we’re stuck in one place. We have three tasks to do for every one that we complete, and we break into little beads of sweat as we keel over from exhaustion at the end of the day.

I’d like to make a proposal that will give nurses an energy boost at work. Now I admit that my suggestion isn’t based on scientific research or evidence based practice. It’s based on an observation. Men and women at the gym seem to perk up and perform better when they are working out next to some hot guy or gal. I think nurses would find their second wind if hospital administrators put treadmills in the middle of every nurses station and invited cute, well proportioned guys and gals to come to the hospital to workout instead of going to the gym. I know I’d have more spring in my step.

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