Friday, April 1, 2016

I Work in Skilled Nursing

I’m a nurse. I went to a prestigious school, and I studied international nursing in Madrid for two years. I have my bachelor’s degree, which means after my name, I have the letters RN, BSN.

I work also work in a nursing home.

For the majority of my nursing career, every time I mention work, most people assume I work in a hospital. Don’t get me wrong, hospitals are great, but that’s never been my ideal work environment. From a young age, I’ve wanted to work in geriatrics. Unfortunately, geriatrics has a very bad stigma associated with it, with old people and dying and the smells…

In my graduating class of almost 300, I think I was one of three or four total who wanted to work geriatrics. The majority always wanted to work in pediatrics.

And I think that’s very admirable. There are many pediatric positions available, and children who need to be cared for. I know I could never do it. The pediatric rotation of clinicals was one of the worst I’d ever endured, just because I don’t like being around kids who are sick. It breaks my heart.

I like geriatrics. They’re often neglected, because people think they’ve already lived their lives. Children don’t visit as often, they’re all busy with their own lives. In my mind, the elderly have lived long lives, and they need someone to share their stories with before they pass.

The other reason why I love nursing homes (more commonly known as skilled nursing) is because of the revolving door. When I did clinicals in the hospital, I would see a patient once, maybe twice. Then they would go home, or go to a skilled nursing, or a TCU to finish their care. I kept them alive, I took care of them for a day or two, but that was it. In skilled nursing, I see my patients every single day. I get to know them well enough that I can see when there’s a change. I can see if they’re eating less than normal, or if they’re more tired, more confused. I can see the subtle differences that can prevent something more serious.

I like having the same patients for more than two or three days. And I love being the person who gets to hear their stories, and make them feel loved at the end of their lives. It makes me feel like I’m doing more than just covering a wound. I’m healing.