Saturday, November 13, 2004

Nobody In There

Working with students or people who are inexperienced can be so delightful. I don't generally think of myself as jaded. But after you have been exposed to certain things repeatedly in your job - or in life in general for that matter, you always run the risk of taking things for granted.

The last two nights, I worked as charge nurse. As an aside, I have to say, I have been struggling with whether or not I like being charge nurse. On the one hand, it is good managerial experience. I learn a lot about how the system of the hospital works. I get to *sit down* - at least for a little while. And I get more money, which as a full-time student is much needed. But I miss the patient contact, especially with the palliative care patients. I still get to work on the floor a little over 50% of the time. But since I now only work 24 hours per week, my patient contact has diminished substantially.

Anyway... back to students and new nurses. So last night, I had three new nurses on. That's a lot - especially for a night shift, when we only have a total of seven nurses on the entire floor. One of the palliative care patients died. I thought, what a great opportunity for one of the new nurses - to learn how to transport a body to the morgue during night shift!

"Has anyone not been to the morgue yet?" I asked the two new nurses who were standing nearby.

Tentatively one of them looked over towards me with her shoulder tightened to slightly obscure her face.

"Janet, have you been to the morgue yet?" I put her on the spot.

"No, actually, I haven't," she admitted.

"Would you mind going down to help them move the body? He's a little heavy, so I need someone else to go with them. And it would be a good learning experience for you."

When Janet came back to the floor, her eyes appeared to be nearly bugged out of her head.

"There was *no one* in there," she said in a voice of disbelief.

Now, I assume she meant no living people as I have never seen less than four bodies in the refrigerator and have frequently seen as many as twelve.

I hadn't even thought to explain to her what to expect. Even if I had, I think I take for granted that there are no living people in the morgue during night shift, so I'm not sure I would have thought to explain that.

Last night was particularly busy. I'd like to think that I would have spent more time explaining to her verbally what happens in the morgue if I'd had more time. And that's just it - new nurses are teachers, too. They help us to see things through their eyes. She learned something about her new job through her trip to the morgue and I learned something about how to be a better charge nurse and teacher through her response to my lack of guidance. Teaching and learning go hand-in-hand. I just hope it's a win-win situation. :-)

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