ICU Nurse - Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
Molloy College – 2014
Nursing all started out for me back in 5th grade of elementary school. We had an actual health class that was geared towards the science of the body and diseases. Sort of like an A&P class for immature preteens. I quickly fell in love with the subject and favored it above all. I developed a knack for it. Applying for high school was not much of a dilemma. I went to the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, coincidentally NYC Men in Nursing held a high school community outreach there.
During the program, we were mandated to complete volunteer service hours, preferably at a hospital. I ended up spending junior through senior year volunteering at Lenox Hill Hospital. There I worked first at central sterile, then switched over to helping the nursing educator. The educator, Geraldine, allowed me to prepare the orientation packets for new grads and sent me around various units to see how nurses operate. I thought the interaction and responsibility was awesome. Therefore, the thought of majoring in nursing at college started. In my senior year of high school, I added on volunteering at Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps. As students, we would have the opportunity to learn EMS basics, go on BLS calls and participate in community events as medical standby. One of the educators there, Kevin, was just finishing nursing school. Hearing from his perspective the whole notion of males in nursing was arguably the turning point in my future career planning and course of life.
I decided to select Molloy College as my sole, no turning back option for nursing school.
And I have not regretted it. I am proud to be a Lion's alumnus. The preparation and degree of expectation of the program was tough, but I feel it should be. Nursing should not be an easy entry into job stability or “great pay”. You have to understand that one day you will have a sick patient and it doesn't matter how high you scored on your finals. Your preparation and retention of knowledge will be the difference between them and the morgue.
Let's just say that the whole belief that hospitals need nurses and job placement is easy out of school is a harsh and complicated myth. You will eventually find a job, but the time, patience and efforts will be challenging. Stick true to yourself and have hopes. I'd advise you to network and market yourself respectfully.
Now, I on the other hand, I was a little stubborn. I only wanted ER or ICU after the NCLEX. Many people will give you mixed opinions on choosing a specialty fresh from school. Listen to them and ask yourself how comfortable you are with your skills. It took me a little over a year to finally land an ICU position after turning down Med-Surg offers. No disrespect to the great Med-Surg nurses, it's just not my cup of tea, to each his own. Do I regret waiting, while everyone else was getting jobs left and right? Heck no. I see myself only doing critical care or emergency nursing for a majority of my career. It is one of my strongest passions.
I currently work in the ICU at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, which serves a challenging mixed population of the South Bronx. We have a 27 bed ICU and 12 bed CCU. Respiratory problems such as COPD, asthma play a big role in admissions, as does the drug epidemic. I am asked by fellow co-workers and friends why the Bronx. Honestly, it's the best place to get an experience and become highly skilled to response to certain situations.
With the number of high acuity admissions we take in, the ICU is a learning experience. There is a significant learning curve entering the ICU as a new grad. However, with the right mindset and eagerness to learn, you can make it. There is no such thing as a typical day in the ICU, but you can at least control some variables. I tend to come in early, stock my pockets with flushes, gauze, alcohol pads, and syringes. Get my assignment, add myself as provider to review patients’ ICU consult or initial reason for being admitted and compare to current status. Then, I’ll review orders, labs, medications especially if they are titratable drips. Then I do any secondary assignments such as code cart, special equipment or narcotic counts; which can be daunting. We do bedside shift handoff. If I’m lucky, I might get the same patients in successive shifts. Or, I could end up getting an admission, a transfer or a coding patient right at the start or end of my shift. All unpredictable events. I settle myself in and plan the shift out.
I tend to prefer neurological patients due to the challenge and learning opportunities. Moreover, I spent my last semester of nursing school at Mt. Sinai Roosevelt on a Neuro-ICU, so the cases are not as intimidating. Another favorite is therapeutic hypothermia. We cool the patient into hibernation at 32℃ or 89℉ following a cardiac arrest that has potential for a positive neurological outcome. The key with these patients is that they are a 1:1 assignment. Wonderful, sweet you might be thinking. Wrong! I rarely get to take a break; I will be documenting vitals Q 15 min, titrating like no other and possibly managing paralytic levels.
When people ask what it is like working in an ICU with severely sick patients, I give them an analogy of a tightrope walker. The patient is walking a fine line from point A to B, nurses are there to balance it out, and hope they get across successfully. Not always the case and not always realistic, but we do everything possible, to best of our skills.
In the short term, I am planning to take the CCRN exam in June. First time pass would be great, but it is more of a personal challenge. I hope that I can be a good mentor for the duration of the 2017 MIN mentorship program. Down the line is a bit conflicting because I would love to do flight/transport nursing and possibly apply to CRNA School. Can’t do both at the same time, but time will tell.
NYC Men in Nursing came into play for me in November of 2014 after the Fall Conference at NYP. The amount of knowledge backgrounds & areas of nursing surprised me. Definitely a step up from your casual nursing student association. Networking and professional growth is key here. Obviously, we strive to involve males in the profession, but we’re an equal opportunity association. Currently I am on the Bylaws Committee and selected for the 2017 Mentorship program. I hope to see the group grow as it is and foster a positive environment for future males in nursing. In addition, I would love for us to show the image of our profession. Even doctors who we work alongside do not fully understand our scope of practice and job. Make the public more aware, so the next time your patient asks, “Are you my doctor?” “No, I’m your nurse, we’re cooler!” I say.
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