Lately, several people have heard my lame joke, “I’m floating so much, I should be a duck!”
I started my student nursing adventures on a urology floor. I really wasn’t that picky when it came to this first job – I had heard from multiple advisers that getting on “a good med-surg floor” was the best introduction you could have to the world of nursing. Medical-Surgical floors (i.e. med-surg) is the basic care a patient needs in a hospital – they have some condition which needs attention through drugs (medical) or surgery. If anything else goes wrong, they can be transferred to a Progressive Care or Critical/Intensive Care unit.
So, I my first steps as a student nurse were spent tracking down a patient’s vital signs, making sure they get out of bed post-surgery, measuring urine and other fluid output (if you only knew how many forms this took other than pee and blood…), and my favorite – trying to keep track of how much they put in.
After 3 months on my home unit, I was eligible to float to others when my unit’s tech staff was overpopulated and/or the patient census was down. Thank goodness, I have been able to keep some of my working hours! At first, I heard from most techs and nurses “Ugh, I have to float!” Honestly, I don’t mind it.
Rather than being in the world of kidneys and bladders, I’m getting to see other medical-surgical and progressive care floors. I’ve been on liver, orthopedic, or digestive disorder units. One of my favorites to work at is the Organ Transplant unit. I’ve also been to an Oncology unit – that’s a post all on it’s own.
And it can not be said enough, ALL nursing is psych nursing. Some of my more interesting floats this summer were patients with alcohol withdraw or other substance withdraw issues. Definitely kept me awake on those 3 AM sitting/supervising shifts!!
My most memorable experience in floating happened in late June. I had settled in to a sitting shift with a patient, when my charge nurse appeared. She explained that one tech coming on could only float to sit and another unit needed a tech to work the floor. So, I pack my things and head to the new unit. I step off the elevator, introduce myself to the charge nurse, and am greeted with these words: “Do you speak Spanish?” Oh, dear.
Apparently, it was a sitting shift; my charge nurse was misinformed. The patient did not like the current sitter whom I was replacing, however, some quick thinking on my part got the patient to trust me. My two years of high school Spanish, one year of Latin, random study of words from my singing past, plus Google Translate helped me communicate to this freaked out patient. He/she went from unwilling to sleep, have vital signs taken, and allow blood glucose checks to resting comfortably in an non-paranoid state. All because I looked up, “Go to sleep. Everything is good. The nurses are taking good care of you.”
Floating has allowed me to see what sort of nurse I might want to be and the sort I do not want to be. I have met patients, families, support staff, chaplains, and a host of others in the system. I have found units that I would consider working on as a nurse and those from which I will run far, far away. It can be frustrating, but as I’ve found out, also rewarding. Both in circumstances and the fact that I am getting paid.