I went to Haiti with a group mostly consisting of pediatric intensive care (PICU) nurses and physicians (there were 4 acute-care people, myself included). I had the opportunity to get to know them and to see them in action. I remember a moment very clearly. I was working in the NICU (a corner of the PICU) when another patient’s heart just stopped. I didn’t realize what was happening right away, but Joanne (the patient’s primary nurse) and Pam (the manager of our PICU) anticipated it happening a second before it actually did. All of a sudden, the two of them jumped up, grabbed the baby put her on the exam table and began CPR. I started freaking out. Shaking, goosebumps – a total mess! I could only stand there and watch in awe (it was all I could do to keep standing). They however, were so calm. At one point, Joanne looked over at me (as she continued doing compressions) and asked me, so calmly, for some epinephrine. There was no panic in her voice. No inclination of fear, just a solid grasp on what she was doing. She was so composed, so practiced, so perfect. So bad-ass.
I started my career as a nurse just wanting to work with kids. I was fortunate to start in the place where I did (Peds Acute Care). I developed a strong foundation and learned good time-management. I learned to prioritize and think critically. I became comfortable with doing what I was doing. I was good at it and I loved it. I loved knowing what to expect and how to respond to common complications. I loved who I worked with and I loved being able to be involved. Despite that, I felt like I wanted to do something more. Something a little less predictable, a little more scary. I wasn’t ready though. I was afraid, intimidated. Then I wen to Haiti.
They eventually stabilized the baby and afterward I told Pam how impressed I was and how I felt so utterly helpless during the whole thing. She simply told me, “this wasn’t our first code.” She made me feel ok with where I was as a nurse, and that I too, could do it in time. She even told me “we’d love to have you [work in the PICU]” after seeing my uselessness! Wow.
When I got back, I felt the urge to move. I battled with it for a while, but the Lord told me He had big plans for me. I had families to care for and a big job to do. It was time, ready-or-not, and when a position opened I took it.
It took a few months to make the transition, but it’s official. I am now a PICU nurse. I started orientation on Monday. It’s so different than what I am used to (partly because I’m on nights – I’m praying for a dayshift soon!), but it’s good. I have so much to learn oh! I dived head first into ventilators and trach suctioning and after 3 days, I’m starting to get the basics – the very, very basics. I’m so intimidated, but in a good way.
Maybe someday, many, many days from now, I’ll feel bad-ass too. 🙂