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Nursing 101:
The Person Behind The Curtain

Linda Medero

Hi, my name is Linda Medero, RN, BSN. I’ve been a Registered Nurse since 1977. 

I graduated during a time when nurses still wore white uniforms, white shoes and white support hose that slowly crept down to the knees by the end of the shift.

There were still white caps required and pants were just beginning to be accepted for female nurses.

It was before IV pumps. IVs all ran by gravity and the drip rate was adjusted by eyeing a second hand on one’s wrist watch and the drip chamber simultaneously while changing how fast it ran. Any movement in the patient’s position changed the rate.

So you were always running back and forth all day long checking how it was going. And that was in between handing out meds to 40 patients.

IVs in the home were unheard of.

I initially worked in a hospital where most things were not disposable, but returned to central supply for cleaning, autoclaving and sterile wrapping for re-use.

Cardiac Telemetry

My first assignment as a graduate nurse was on the Cardiac Telemetry floor. I spent my day chanting under my breath, “Please God, no codes today!” I was terrified.

At the end of the unit was CCU. Occasionally a patient on telemetry would show irregularities on their monitor and the CCU staff would come charging through the doors with the crash cart.

One patient whose heart was misbehaving had locked himself in a hallway bathroom for a little privacy when his monitor showed an arrhythmia. There the CCU nurses and resident were, pounding on the door telling him to unlock it before he lost consciousness. 

He kept refusing, saying he was in the middle of a bowel movement. He apparently didn’t think he was having an AMI (acute myocardial infarction) at that moment.

He had his priorities, I guess.

Pediatrics

My second assignment was in Pediatrics. It was a small, closed unit. Most complicated cases were sent to CHOP (Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia), but occasionally we got a doozy that hadn’t been transferred out. Only one phone was on the unit at the nurses’ station. (This was before cell phones.)

The hospital administration used to “schedule” 2 RNs and an LPN each night shift, then routinely pull two of the three staff off Peds to Med/Surg. That left one RN alone on the unit. It looked good on paper I guess.

Being a troublemaker even then, I complained to administration about safety risks should a child code. How could a nurse call for help alone on the unit with a door shut and no phone in easy reach?

Nothing changed.

When it was time for my dinner breaks, the nursing supervisor would be my relief.

One night I got a call on the cafeteria phone from the supervisor.

“Was the boy in room 2 blue when you left?”

Seriously? I called a code from the cafeteria. There was a little better staffing after that.

I left hospital nursing after a year and went into home care. Wonder why…..

Home Health Care

Home Care was fun. Except for the getting around town issue. No GPS then. Just lots of paper maps and trying to figure out how to find the next patient’s house.

My friends laughed at the thought of me finding my way anywhere. I am geographically challenged.

What I also liked about home care is that I got very good at a lot of nursing skills and procedures. While the books may say we do skilled level of care, I feel as if we do acute care just without the benefit of being in a facility.

And from time to time, there was the added challenge of how to keep 5 cats off a sterile field while trying to insert a foley catheter in a dark, dirty room with no lights.  Definitely not part of any Nursing 101 course I took.

I also tried my hand at a few different administrative types of jobs for a while, and clinical  / skills lab instructor a time or two. But home care gave me the flexibility to travel the country for a few decades. I didn’t need to have a travel agency, I just picked a state, moved there and within 24 hours was able to get a job.

I experienced Arizona, Colorado and Oregon. Now I’m back East here and settled in Delaware; Little ol’ Delaware. Guess I should be wearing a pair of ruby slippers.

I’m not a person that does the "warm fuzzy feelings" kind of nursing. I’m not the type that adores the theories and the care plans and the complicated semantics of nursing diagnoses.

I am not a doctor wanna-be, I’m a nurse.

I am very task oriented. I want to efficiently do what is necessary for a patient, with as little pain as possible for both of us. I like doing the procedures and I love teaching anyone who will listen. 

Nursing 101 Website

But now, finally, in 2014 I have decided to try retirement. Which doesn’t mean I’m not busy. I’m just not working for someone else anymore. 

This website seemed like a fun project to put down on paper (?) what I know and to create a concise outline of how to be a nurse. It might be helpful for you newbies out there.  Hence the name Nursing 101.

And Nursing 101 reflects me well. Basic. Simple. Nothing fancy.

Questions?

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