STEMpowerment

Let’s Talk Nurses!

Timing is everything! 

Miss America was on TV a couple weeks ago, and I actually happened to catch a little of it while catching up on my most frequent chore – folding laundry! 

If I remember correctly, I hoped Miss Tennessee would win because she was a vocal STEM advocate, in addition to being stunning (all of the women were).

It wouldn’t be Miss America though, if there weren’t controversy. This year did not disappoint! Within a couple days, there was scandal over the comments on The View about Miss Colorado and her speech about being a nurse. 

Timing is everything.

The comments ended up being especially poignant to me because I coincidentally had a series of fantastic experiences with incredible nurses and other health care professionals last week.

You see, my best little girlfriend broke her arm. In two places, I came to find out.

Trying to get a little sleep after a very long night in the ER

 
She’s a tough cookie, which made it hard for us to tell if we should take her to the emergency room right away or not. I finally decided we needed to get it checked out when she cried in her sleep. 

Not much is open at 11:30 at night, and I have no patience for waiting when my baby is hurting, so we made a “quick” trip to the emergency room. 

Spending the night (or just part of the night) in the ER is miserable – seriously! But, we were cared for by a great team. Everyone we met from the security guard to the to the doctors, to the radiology techs, nurses, and PCAs were fantastic. There were thoughtful, kind, and patient with my over-tired, hurting toddler. And – they knew their stuff! 

We went back to the doctor for another appointment a couple days later to get a hard cast put on. We talked to the doctor for just a couple minutes (he was wonderful!), then another woman (a nurse or a PA?) was the person to actually put on the cast.   

Action shot! a broken n arm won’t hold this girl up! She was playing hard at a bounce house party 2 days after the cast went on.

    
Never having broken a bone, I was surprised the doctor didn’t do the cast himself – but it makes sense! If the doctor takes the time to put on all the casts, it limits the number of patients that can be seen.

Since I was experiencing healthcare first hand, and listening to the news about the role of nurses in healthcare, it made me think about my most pivotal healthcare moment – again, one that was shared with my sweet little STEMinista.

When I was pregnant with her, I had a serious condition called placenta previa. I’ll spare you the details, but it was serious enough that I spent three weeks on bed rest (2 of those in the hospital) before she was born.

And she was STILL six weeks early!

She was so early, and so small and sleepy, that she spent 19 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

If you want to learn about the role of nurses and the impact they have in peoples’ lives, try spending some major time in a hospital.

As Miss Colorado discussed in her monologue, the nurses were the first people I talked to every day, and the last people I spoke to at night. For me, they did everything from giving IVs, to administering medicine, to monitoring my vitals,keeping me calm when I went into premature labor, and even making a ribbon bow to pin on my Halloween baby skeleton shirt. They knew their science and their medicine, and they showed compassion and love as well.

Our experience in the NICU was even more remarkable. The doctor popped in twice a day to check on the kids, but the nurses were literally with the babies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Teenage girls get a reputation for being high maintenance, but NICU babies are SERIOUSLY high maintenance. They need diaper changes, baths, and weigh-ins, they need to eat every 2-3 hours (often through feeding tubes), they’re hooked up to all sorts of tubes and monitoring wires, and sometimes they forget to breathe on their own.

Yes, you read that last part correctly. They sometimes forget.to.breathe.on.their.own.

One of the most unnerving parts of the NICU to me was that there were babies whose breathing monitors went off almost every time we visited. An alarm would sound, and if it didn’t go off after a few seconds, a nurse would literally go over to the baby, and wake him/her up as a reminder to breathe. It was terrifying the first time I saw it, the last time I saw it, and every time in between. These little ones literally rely on the care of nurses to do something as simple as breathe.

On top of all that, the nurses deal with over-hormonal, over-tired, stressed out parents, while implementing doctors’ orders and caring for their little patients. Bless their hearts. It’s an incredibly hard job. One that I don’t know if I would have the stomach or the heart for.

So, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of the nurses (and other health care professionals) out there for the hard work you do – but especially the nurses. You’ve made a dramatic impact in my life, and I am so grateful for each and every one of you, whether you’re using a ‘doctor stethoscope’, a ‘nurse stethoscope’, a ‘PA stethoscope’, or any other stethoscope. 

-theSTEMinista

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