(Things we may sometimes forget to take into consideration).
1. “ICU nurses are snobby, elite.” Where does this come from? Any Med Surg nurse can probably attest to feeling a little fearful about upgrading a patient to critical care, to the “scary ICU nurses”. Here’s the thing. ICU nurses have gotten a bad rap; they’re intense because the patient’s life is in danger. They may have only two (or three) patients but their work is tenfold; scrutinizing every detail that may be the key to saving a life. The pressure is extraordinary, they are managing multiple invasive lines, countless drips with intricate knowledge of math and safety parameters for each and every drip rate. Additionally, they are expected to be involved in invasive bedside procedures, even though they have other patients who are just as critical next door. On top of that, they’re often required to leave their patients in the care of others (many times with nurses who already have an assignment, making it unsafe for them to juggle four or five critical patients), while they respond to cardiac arrests in the hospital. They’re caring for patients in the most intense moments of their lives, and it’s exhausting even though it’s two people. Every second counts when they’re critical status. ICU nurses move fast and ask a lot of direct questions in report because they require the minuscule details other areas may dismiss. It’s not personal when they’re digging for information. They are focused on the patient. If there is a condescending ICU Nurse, it’s likely they’re an unkind person in any speciality - for every one of those, there’s also just as many kind ICU nurses who inspire the rest of us to be caring and unbeatable at critical care.
2. “Med Surg isn’t a specialty.” Any nurse who has worked about a day in Med Surg will understand it takes a well rounded and brave soul to be in this area, and yes, it’s a specialty. There’s certification in this field that supports this. On any given day, a Med Surg Nurse will have patients who are at critical status; with no beds available in ICU for upgrade, so they are accountable for them, in addition to the sometimes up to 10 (or more), additional patients, many confused, climbing out of bed, intubated, coming and going from MRI, CT, Nuclear Stress Tests, admits coming from ER, Pacu, direct from OR, Endoscopy, other floors - often all at the same time. Med Surg nurses are hard core, and they’re focused on surviving the marathon shifts they need to endure every damn day.
3. “Psych Nurses; They have no skills, they wouldn’t know what to do with a patient in distress, or they’re just slow.” Perhaps there aren’t Triple Lumen Catheters, Swans, invasive bedside procedures, but these nurses have an extraordinary amount of patience for the combative, a knack for decoding a patient’s silence, and an instinctive awareness to liars, manipulators, and especially when a patient is in serious danger of harming themselves long before anyone else has realized. They’ve learned the importance of developing a patient’s trust, significant with women who have been battered and fear opening up to anyone - but may trust a nurse who has learned the right questions to ask, created a safety zone, and found a way to to see past the outside world’s judgment of mental health issues to see the human; while prioritizing their rights to compassion & care. Psych nurses deal with patients in distress all the time, just because it isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it isn’t distress. They’re slow when needed, as they’ve learned to be deliberate in their actions - observation is often one of their greatest tools.
4. “ED nurses never clean patients, and they never complete orders before racing upstairs and dumping their patients.” Read the Acronym again. What’s it mean spelled out? These nurses are responsible for stabilizing patients at the most critical point, and once that’s established or a bed opens up, they move them. Simplicity. If they happen to miss a messy diaper or a colace pill is it worth arguing? It doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrated by the limits of their job, it doesn’t meant they wouldn’t do the full care if they had the time or space. They move fast because as soon as they move that patient out, there’s an ambulance pulling up ready to deposit the next critical patient, and somewhere in between they’re dealing with all the chaos in the lobby/waiting area. It’s understandable that you don’t want to clean a patient you just received, every floor is busy - but consider this; They may miss some small details, but they’re the frontline of care in a hospital and every second counts when it’s a stroke patient, major trauma, or heart attack.
Commonalities; All nurses have passed the same licensing exam. Each and every nurse is accountable for human life, and makes clinical decisions that contribute to quality patient care. All nurses make mistakes, many of which they wish they could take back. Each nurse is continually learning, regardless of age, or level of experience - it’s not a profession that’s mastered. Each of us have taken care of patients in distress - it doesn’t matter the specialty. All nurses experience daily pressures, and all nursing disciplines have unique skills. Each nurse shares this common goal - Caring for their patients to the best of their abilities on any given day. Nursing is the ability to understand what it feel like to walk in another person’s shoes; our patients as well as our coworkers.