Written By: Julie Edwards, RN
Neurology Intensive Care Unit
A day in the life of a neuro ICU nurse ... Well look at that ... it's time to head to work! Kisses from my boys and hubby, and I am out the door, ready to perform in one of the many roles I play in life -- a neuro ICU nurse! I love my job and especially the unit on which I work! Don't get me wrong, like everybody I have the occasional day when I just don't feel like going to work, but even on those days, when I walk through the door of Mayo Clinic and start my shift, I truly feel like it is my home away from home! The smiles and cheerful greetings from my co-workers, along with the blessing of an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a stranger (my patient), make me excited and grateful for my workday! No matter how crummy life can seem sometimes, I feel grateful every day I go to work, for I have my health, and no matter how difficult my job is sometimes, it could never compare to what patients are experiencing. Okay, time to get report, so the off-going nurse can head home! A 12-hour workday, after all, is a very full shift! During our handoff, I meet my patient and often family members, too. Working in the Neuro ICU means often we not only care for patients, but their family members as well, as they sit in emotional turmoil at the bedside of their loved one! Our patient population is a mix of medical and surgical folks, and oftentimes their lives have been turned upside down by their diagnoses. I have cried with, prayed with, and grieved with patients and their families, and after 10 years, I sure have learned the magical comforting power of a warm blanket. Hallelujah to that invention! After establishing a rapport and ensuring my patients are comfortable, it is time to get myself organized and try to "plan" my day. I say this with a hint of sarcasm as anybody who works in the ICU knows it is virtually impossible to plan a shift! That being said, I familiarize myself with the patient's history, diagnoses, and medication schedule. I look up lab reports and test results, read notes from services involved in the patient's care, and analyze rhythm strips from the patient monitor. A patient assignment is based on acuity, so sometimes I care for one patient and sometimes two. Either way, care is based on prioritizing and coordination among services to provide the best outcome for the patient, and at the end of my 12-hour shift, that is my goal. Did I maximize my work shift to assist in a better outcome for my patient or patients? I sure hope in some way, shape or form that the answer is "yes"!