Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lady of the Night

My job at Duke has finally started!  Well, about four weeks ago, finally.  After two weeks of hospital orientation and classes, I was ready to start my orientation on my unit 3200 - Cardio-Thoracic Surgery ICU. 

First let me tell you a little bit about the events leading up to starting my job, if you aren't already privy.  I moved here July 1, expecting to be starting my job on July 20.  I took the NCLEX (the nursing licensing exam) here in NC shortly after the move, and passed it with more ease than I expected, whew!  July 17, Friday morning before my start date, the nurse recruiting office from Duke University called me and told me that I wouldn't be able to start my job on Monday morning because my license had not been posted.  WHAT?!  Everything was supposed to be in order and ready to go.  Is this a joke?  Later that afternoon I found out that the reason my license had not been posted was "a problem with my background check."  We all knew I was a sketchy character...

I found out that my original fingerprint card had been rejected by the state because my prints were not clear.  I did not get the letter from the NC State Board because they were so thoughtfully hanging on to it for me in the leasing office of my building...for two weeks!  So, I had to hustle to get a new card done and background check completed.  Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I was able to move my official start date to a month later August 17.  Criminally cleared.

The first day of orientation was great!  I met several girls that I have since kept up with.  One of the girls I sat down next to that morning happened to be another girl working on my same unit which was a neat coincidence.  It has been nice to have a group of friends that are new nurses throughout the hospital that I can talk to, ask or answer questions, and bounce ideas back and forth with.

Orientation was incredibly efficient and the speakers were great.  I felt so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of such an awesome hospital system.  Once classes started I was really happy that I was able to follow along well.  My work experience in the cardiac surgery unit at Crawford helped a lot!  We have had information overload over the past several weeks.  We were handed to binders full of information for our unit that we are responsible for learning ASAP.  One of the binders is massive!  In my time at home I am doing a lot of studying.

I have worked on the unit for a couple of weeks now.  The nurses are really nice.  Everyone is very young, which is helpful, because they can all remember what it is like to be a new graduate.  All of my shifts for this month are night shifts.  My first shift was very difficult.  The worst part was the drive home.  I live about thirty minutes away from the hospital in good traffic, and leaving at the height of morning rush hour (which doesn't really mean anything except that the roads are more crowded) was kind of a scary experience.  I wanted to nod off while I was driving.  Not safe!  The next night I caffeinated appropriately.

One of my concerns was that I would have difficulty sleeping upon my arrival back at my apartment.  Shower, bed, pillow, sleep.  I can sleep easily until 5 p.m.  I do enjoy my sleep!

One of the first patients I had the opportunity to take care of was a fresh heart transplant.  It was an awesome experience.  I had never taken care of heart transplant patients at Crawford Long.  We did mostly CABGs and Valves.  It has been very exciting to see the type of patients we have here at Duke.  The other really exciting tidbit about Duke is their outcomes and the speed at which we are able to discharge patients from the ICU.  CABG patients are sometimes discharged to the floor the same day which is record time to me.  I am definitely excited to be here and am learning a lot.

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