Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Scene - the work area (formerly known as the nurses station) , a triangular collection of counterspace, computers, three chairs that bang into each other, a Dyno-Map Parking Area, the antibiotic fridge, med Pyxis and narc Pyxis.
Characters - patient, invisible, three doors stage left, one RN entering from stage right to pull something from the med Pyxis, two physicians' assistant students at the counter with the computer, and one nursing student with the big patient chart, the little flow sheet chart and the Davis drug book all open in front of her.
Call bell dings, HUC answers, "Can I help you." and patient (invisible, three doors down) says, "Can you send my nurse, I can't tell if I need to poop or throw up!". Nurse exits stage left.

PA-S #1 (turning to the other PA student): Yep. That's the reason I'm not a nurse!
PA-S #2: Shew, no kidding!
Nursing student slams Davis closed (the effect is lost a bit because it is chained to the desk), gathers her charts and moves to the other work station.

It got under my skin a bit, which is surprising to me. I figured that I knew about that kind of attitude, I've read about it in Chapter 4, I even experienced it the other day when my clinical instructor and I were hanging an IV and the patient leaped out of bed to try to rush to the bathroom, and lost control of his bowels on the way, and she made sure I had what I needed to clean him up and then said "You're really good at handling this part. I'll leave you to it, and just find me when you're ready to finish hanging the IV".

But I found myself muttering in the bathroom yesterday afternoon, and realized that it had bugged me! I was scooping the catbox and shaking the bits of litter and the stray poop off the towel that had fallen on the floor (why why why can't all the poop be in the box! "near" the box is simply not good enough!) and I realized that I don't like this part of the job of being a pet-owner. I do like having cats in the house. I will continue to have cats in the house. I will also continue to dislike handling their poop.

To the PA-S, I wish I had said, "That's the part that nurses don't like of their job either. Are there any things that you all have to do that are gross or that you don't like?"

Nurses are not some sadistic creatures that enjoy the risky thrill of the possibility of being splattered with emesis or smeared with feces or realizing that you've been pressing a urine soaked bedsheet into your scrubs on the way to the linen cart. It's pretty likely that we chose this job for reasons other than the close proximity to waste products and the joy of initiating discussions with strangers about their bowel habits 8 or 10 times a day.

We don't necessarily like those things, either. We choose to do it because we like something else about the job.

And that comment, well, it's relatively innocuous, but it's like a smear of shit on the back of my knee that I didn't know was there until I got home and took off my scrubs.