my internship: week one

24 May

Day 1: Tues May 14th

The ICU is much smaller and quieter than I expected. The nurses gave me a quick tour of the ICU and then sat down in the nurses station. My duties are primarily answering the  phone. There are two nurses in each shift; the average age of each nurse is around fifty.  There was only one patient, an 86 year old woman. She was a character. She yelled and swore at the nurses because they wouldn’t put Vaseline around her IV site. The nurses told me how crazy the patient is, and how the other day she called one of the sweetest nurses here a “princess bitch.” The nurses refer to the patient as Pb now. Since there was only one patient, one of the nurses felt bad that I had to sit around and so he taught me how to read EKG graphs. I read up a little further in a textbook he showed me. He also taught me a bit about diabetes. 
Day 2: Wed May 15th
Today, I met another volunteer named Eva. She used to work in the hospital for years and years and years, in various capacities. Since the hospital is losing money every year, she was laid off last October when her position, ICU secretary, was eliminated. Now the nurses do all the secretarial work themselves. When they’re busy, the phone goes unanswered. 
We got one new patient, a male in his fifties with heart issues. He needed a cardiaversion, but it was scheduled for after my shift ended. When we admitted him, I took his report by mistake. The nurses weren’t mad at me because I didn’t know, but they got pissed at the ER nurse who didn’t make sure she reported to a nurse. (They redid the report.) 
Day 3: Thurs May 16th
The male patient was discharged today. Pb is still here, but she has been very pleasant lately. Her grandchildren came to visit her. There is a lot of interdepartmental conflict in this hospital. I think part of it is due to the fact that the ICU nurses have plenty of time to sit and gossip.
Day 4: Fri may 17th
PB was discharged today. EMTs came in with a stretcher to let her out. She left at around noon and we didn’t get another patient. We gossiped about people in the hospital, about current events and politics, and exchanged pictures of my prom dress for pictures of the nurses’ dogs. I think it’s good for me to be here, if only to remind me that healthcare is about both sitting around doing paperwork (or nothing at all) AND doing exciting procedures. Also, I couldn’t be a nurse. I’m not patient or personable enough.

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