May 26, 2012

Realized that I don't necessarily have six straight days coming up, as Thursday is technically not spoken for by either agency or outpatient.  I'm debating as to whether I want to leave it a day off.

On one hand, I could choose where I wanted to work that day, as both outpatient and agency expressed an interest in my services.  The two politics classes start next week so if this is a week to work like crazy, it'd be this week.  And I'd be making killer money this week, between the weekend, the week and the holiday.

On the other hand, that would be day 5 in a row of work...and the day prior is both a day half-shift and an evening half-shift.  So Wednesday I'd be getting out of work at 2000, home by 2030, and then have to be asleep before 2200 just to be human at 0500.  I could also get to the Y for a long overdue workout.   And it would be nice to have a day in the house--alone--to imitate a vegetable.

Decisions, decisions...

Maybe I'll see how the next few days ago.  The nice thing is that I don't have to commit to working the day right away:  I can wait until Wednesday to say Yay or Nay to Thursday.

May 25, 2012

Who haven't I pissed off today?

Worked outpatient today...and for some reason or another almost every doctor felt compelled to yell at me.  I'm not sure why--I didn't do anything out of the ordinary or yell-worthy.  One doctor squawked at me for calling them while on vacation, except that they hadn't told anyone they were going on vacation...and "anyone" included almost the entire hospital.

One doctor got upset that I called them because of that first doctor going away and they had to cover for them...then got upset when I had call them again because my supervisor told me to.

Another got into a tiff because they thought I wanted them there right away, and was going on with the "I have more important patients to see..."  "I don't care when you see the patient," I replied.  "I was just reminding you to see the patient."

And another was angry about a patient deciding not to comply with treatment, as though it's my fault they aren't interested in recovery.  Sure, I can just tie them to a log, drag them in, and make them give up all of their CD issues so they can pay attention to their treatment.

In my supervisor's defense, she apologized that I was the whipping girl.  I told her that as long as we didn't have a code, it was still a good day.

The one doctor who didn't yell at me, I almost wanted to kiss for not yelling at me.  Ironically, he's the one that's known as the bear in the hospital, yet has never been anything but polite to me.  In fact, when I said to my coworker that another doctor just yelled at me, without fault every time, they'd ask if it was him.

Them I get home.  And got yelled at by the other half.  There was an incident involving the little one at school that upset me, and I was talking to him about it.  For some reason, the other half didn't like how I handled it and when the little one went outside to play, tore me to shreds.  I kept my cool but I was pretty upset.  And angry.  Way to be made to feel like the world's worst parent.

Eventually, the truth about the incident at school came out (it wasn't as bad as we thought it was).  Eventually, the other half apologized for snapping at me.  But I'm still pretty upset and angry...I'm sure I'll get over it eventually, but I tell you:  to be yelled at all day at work, being yelled at at home was the last thing in the world that I needed.


I told him so at dinner.  And that helped me get over it.  Now I'm just chilling with the little one as we're about to watch the Marx Brothers.

I have off tomorrow, then a stretch of 6 days on, alternating between outpatient and agency.  What was I thinking?  

In happier news, I have officially broken 200 lbs.  I broke it at home a few weeks ago, but today it was official when I broke it on the work scale.  

May 14, 2012

The 10,000 steps

I've heard somewhere that everyone should strive for at least 10,000 steps a day.  Reason:  it's physical activity that anyone and everyone can work into their life.

Since I've started the Psych ER job, I've been on my feet a lot.  Even though time at the Y has been scaled back due to working two jobs, my weight loss has also sped up due to more activity and less lunch at work (now down 13 pounds since Boxing Day).  I'm curious to see how many steps a day during an average day at work, so I got a pedometer.  For the next three days, I will see how many steps I rack up, then figure out what the average number of steps per day is.

I put the pedometer on after getting dressed.  Day 1--in the ER--resulted in...10,132 steps.  And the day isn't done yet:  it's only 1830.  Though since I'm beat, I may just take the pedometer off, take a bath and call it a night since I have to do it again tomorrow.

Wow.  I knew this new job had me on my feet a lot but I didn't realize how much.

Got to hang with the LVNs today.  There was a glut of RNs in the ER so I was one of the ones sent to be a LVN...well, to do the LVN stuff in the ER, plus a few RN assessments.  I was glad for the change of pace, especially after seeing how many patients kept rolling through triage.   I mean, the LVNs work very hard and then some, but they (we?) don't have to deal with the endless triaging and initial assessments.  The LVN day in the ER is more like being on an inpatient ICU/Stepdown.

I got to leave on time since I had my work and my patients squared away by 1500.  Maybe I'll get to be a LVN tomorrow too, that'd be, I can't see lightening striking twice.

May 13, 2012

In which Meriwhen starts worrying about things that are 2+ years off...

A bit of nostalgia last night caused me to look at job listings back East.  After all, I want to see what's waiting for me if/when we return there.  And not much is waiting there.  The psychiatric nursing market in our last place of residence isn't great.  For medical nurses, it is fact, it was a real turn-around from what I started my new grad job hunt a few years ago.  Most of the postings had experience as preferred and not required, and only a few were anti-new grad.

For psychiatric nurses, not so many pickings.

Number 1 hospital from way back when still has the best psychiatric nursing job offerings but they've gotten tougher to get into.  One of the best places to work at as a psychiatric nurse seems to prefer hiring agency nurses; while that means it may be easier to get in there, I lose the chance to rack up a pension.  I could always return to the hospital where I cut my teeth as a new grad, but from what I hear on the grapevine, that's a ship that's sinking fast.

So I started having an anxiety attack over not being able to find a psych job and whether I should switch to a medical specialty, and then how would I able to switch to a medical specialty.  But I was good.  I recognized that I was having an anxiety attack, pulled myself off of the computer, and had a serious talking-to with myself about it.

I am getting worried over a job market that hasn't happened fact, who knows what it will be like in 2 years?  Maybe there will be a lot more psych nursing jobs.  Maybe the sinking ship will have fixed itself.   Maybe the market will really improve and nurse recruiters will be willing to work with me more than they did when I was a new grad.

Who says we'll be going back there in 2 years?  It's not guaranteed...the other half is still active duty and has at least one more tour to go.  We may end up back there, we may end up staying here, we may end up somewhere entirely different.

And speaking of which, even after the better half retires from service, we may not even decide to settle back where we were.  There's no strong attachment to the area...I mean, I do have friends there but there's no family, nor are there strong emotional attachments to the area itself.  In fact, we've talked about living in other areas since he said where we settle will depend on where my job takes us.  We both really loved Texas, especially South Texas, and would go back in a heartbeat.  The Pacific Northwest has also held appeal for us too.

I'm building an excellent resume.  I have loads of inpatient work, outpatient work and specialty certifications to add to it.  I plan to get some volunteer work in there.   More importantly, I'm enjoying where I am working out here--both places.  I could easily stay at both of them for the next two years, or switch things up.

About the medical itch...yes, part of me thinks a year of medical nursing experience would be invaluable towards the MSN/DNP.   But I still don't want to work medical for the rest of my life, especially when I return east and lose the protection of staffing ratios.  Plus I hear too many horror stories about medical/hospital nursing that make me glad I'm in psych, where I'm not a glorified skivvy (waitress) inserting tubes and dealing with entitled family members,  but where I feel I'm actually making a difference in a patient's life.  Granted, with the high rate of relapse and return to treatment I have to make that difference several times...but it's better than being the slave to the call bell.  "Nurse, I want another pillow and my boyfriend wants a cold drink."

And as I've learned out here, working for an agency isn't bad at all.  It's actually rather nice.  And not having a pension isn't the end of the world...I've been working on my own IRA and retirement portfolio since 2001.  The better half will have his pension, which will help me to build my own, since I won't be the only one bringing in the income when he retires.  I can keep saving and planning for my financial future.  So I won't exactly have nothing when I retire from working.

I think the fact that my BSN completion was pushed back though my own stupidity (I didn't realize I needed to register for the politics class in January even though it didn't begin until April, so I missed my chance to take it), helped exacerbate this panic attack.  I just want this degree over and done with.   I was playing with my course map and have managed to improve things so I finish in May instead of March.  Two months longer...*sigh*...still things could have been worse.  Some of my course maps had me finishing in October 2013.

So I calmed myself down and put things in perspective.  My old therapist would have been proud of me.

I put my two nursing classes to bed yesterday--as of right now I have one guaranteed A and one probable A.  So now I can enjoy a couple of weeks before the two politics classes begin in June.  And all weekend the better half and little one have been spoiling me for the holiday.  It's been nice.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.  If you consider yourself a mom in any way, shape or form, this day's for you!

May 11, 2012

Worth it

So I did some math...I found out that as an agency nurse (at least with my agency) I get paid a little less per hour than the core staff does at the agency facility.  I don't get benefits, whereas they do get them.  I do not get paid time off, whereas they do.  I am not guaranteed hours, whereas they are guaranteed them.

On paper, that seems very unfair...especially the being paid less as an agency nurse than as a permanent employee.

In reality, I have complete and utter control over my schedule, whereas they do not.  I can not be mandated to work extra hours or overtime, whereas they can.  I can choose to work extra if I wanted to, whereas they can be told they have to.  I can not serve as a charge nurse, whereas they can be made to.  I can take off as many days as I want and still have a job, whereas they can't.

So in practice, I really have the better end of the stick.

Money isn't always everything, and the highest salary doesn't always bring happiness.

May 7, 2012

Sheep Dip and Stepdown 1

I tweaked the hair color.  If you remember from when I stripped the color (the saga starts here), in the process of stripping all the black out, I did some damage to already damaged hair.  I've been using a medium brown haircolor since then.  Over time, the hair has been absorbing color at different intensities:  the damaged porous parts took color really well.  Too well.  Meanwhile, the uneven areas near the crown remained lighter...and the roots are their whole own story.  So I used a different color stripper--not the bleach-based one, but the smelly one--removed the unevenness and re-dyed it.  It's more even though my roots still are lighter than the rest.

I have no one to blame for this but myself.  I think I need to step away from the dye box for a year or two.  Or at least use semi-permanent while the damaged parts grow out.

I got both of my papers and the quiz done...and done by 8pm.  Last week of these two classes, then a week off, then the two government classes begin for the next session.

At the agency facility the other day, I worked on Stepdown 1.  I looked and saw that the ER staff roster was stocked full of core ER nurses.  So, since I'm the low one on the totem pole, I got shipped out.  Everyone else likes to work the Stepdowns and doesn't like to float to the ER, so they would see this as a blessing.  I like to work the ER instead of the Stepdowns, and for a brief moment, I wondered if they were unhappy with me and tried to think about how my last shift went.  I know, my insecurity (but it is getting better).

It went fine.  I checked--no deficiencies.

Since the pace on Stepdown 1 is much slower than the ER, I felt like a fish out of water, but I adjusted.  The techs and LVNs were awesome, and the charge nurse helped me when he could.  One big bonus was that on Stepdown 1, I knew there's no way I'd be leaving late.

I was actually the only female nurse on the staff that shift, RNs and LVNs included.  Now THAT was weird because usually the staffing is overwhelmingly female. Also, the population of the unit is about 40% female.  At the same time, it's great to see so many guys in nursing.  Actually, out here on the West Coast I've seen more male nurses (RN and LVN) that I've ever seen before.

I don't think the male nurses minded a bit that a female was in their even flirted with me.  While that wasn't going to go anywhere past flirting due to my happy marriage (not sure what his relationship status is), it was nice to be admired in a non-nursing way.   It reminded me that I'm still not half-bad on the eyes.

Though there was one small inconvenience for everyone:  being the sole female staff nurse meant that I had to sit in on every H&P and medical consult with a female patient whether or not they were assigned to me.  So I would get yanked from the floor at random and the rest of the nurses would have to work around it.

May 5, 2012

Cinco De Mayo

Y'all know the history of this day isn't based on a party but on a battle, right?  Anyhow, enjoy it and be safe.

I was on the trolley the other day.  Not far away was a man, maybe in his 50s, repeatedly making the Sign of the Cross and touching his forehead.  Before becoming a psych nurse, I would have mentally classified this man as "a wacko" and moved further away.  But after three years, I recognize a compulsion when I see it, so while I didn't exactly sidle up next to him, I didn't feel unsafe enough to move.  In fact, I tried to see if the book he was carrying was a Bible (it was).  OCD plus religious preoccupation...interesting combo.

I watched as covertly as possible to see if there was a pattern to his compulsions.  No pattern.  Sometimes he'd stop after 3, sometimes after 7, sometimes after I lost count.  When he wasn't crossing himself he'd look around...but no one else was fazed either.  I guess he was a regular and they were used to it...and besides, crossing yourself repeatedly isn't too bad as far as compulsions go.  He wasn't directly bothering anyone.

I have two papers, two discussion question responses and a quiz due by Monday at 0600.  I hadn't thought of this when I signed up to work Sunday day shift at the ER.  Oh well.  I made good inroads into paper #1 last night; today I'll work on paper #2 and the responses.  Sunday I'll finish off and clean both up, and take that quiz.  

I've got this.  I hope.

May 1, 2012

Nursing movie

So the other night I found a classic movie hiding in the free OnDemand section:  Four Girls in White (1939).   It's about student nurses so I was naturally intrigued.  And since nothing else was on I decided to watch it.

It wasn't too bad.  If you haven't seen it, spoilers follow.



Of course, one of the students is in the program strictly to score a well-to-do husband.  First she goes after one of the doctors and may actually have a chance with him...except that she is constantly complaining about how often he's called back to the hospital and how he could be making more money in private practice.  So that relationship ends.  Then she tries to nab the grandson of the hospital founder and may actually have a chance with him...except that he and her sister (who became a nursing student to keep her sister company and so is the second of the four girls) fall in love.  So there's that.

In all of this, she lets a classmate take the fall for when she (hubby-hunter) leaves her assigned patient to try to make time with grandson.  Meanwhile the others have pretty much figured her out so she doesn't have the best rep.  She does redeem herself at the end...sort of.

The third of the girls actually wants to be nurse and has made incredible sacrifices to do so.  She's the one who takes the fall when hubby-hunter abandons her patient and because of that, her vacation is taken away from her and she misses a chance to see her daughter.  Keep in mind that back in the 1930s, student nurses actually moved into the hospital for a few years:  there was no going home at the end of the day.

Anyhow, a patient kills her and everyone resents hubby-hunter because if it wasn't for her antics, the dead nurse could have seen her daughter before she had died.

The fourth girl in white is pretty unremarkable, except that she's fixated on food and abandons the volunteer patient (for the training classes) in traction just because it's lunch.

In short, this is soap-opera fare.  It doesn't do much to advance nursing as a serious profession, of course.  But for a 1939 Code movie, it's all right.

I'm sure that this movie could have some nurses outraged at how nurses are portrayed in it, and if it was filmed and/or set in recent times, I'm sure there definitely would have been fallout.  But keep in mind that this movie is from the 1930s, so nursing--and those who entered the field--is being depicted as what it was back then.  I wasn't alive in the 1930s but I'm sure this was a pretty accurate portrayal.

Work week begins is getting all my homework under control (the 35 Days of Terror are almost over, thank God!) and having a special lunch date with the little one.