Nursing – the Final Frontier

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22 February 1971 Starlog:  that was the date I entered this space ship, trying to pick up pieces of damaged personalities across the cosmos. My mother was a nurse in Vienna ( as was my aunt) and came to Sydney in 1960 when I was eight years old. I lived in a tin can in Villawood migrant village for 6 years.

Bernhard2 at Lidcombe

At age 19  I had just taken up a pilot cadetship with a major airline, when my mother, who was nursing at Lidcombe Hospital, asked why I didn’t do nursing. My sarcastic reply about male nurses didn’t faze her, and she had me take her to work, where she proudly paraded me around the wards, introducing me to her colleagues.

The 1970’s was a great time in Sydney. So, I have my mother to blame for the last 38 years spent in this chess-game. I started nursing on the above date, and by 1974 was working in intensive care, becoming deputy Charge Nurse (NUM).

I also moonlighted as an agency nurse across Sydney (what I called “spy missions into enemy territory” – in order to see if there were better methods, systems, charts etc elsewhere that we could use at Lidcombe). I did a management course in 1975, then the Coronary Care Course at The NSW College of Nursing in 1976.

In 1978 I was accepted at Sydney’s St.Vincents Hospital Intensive Therapy Unit (they probably couldn’t spell “Care”?) for their ICU course under Dr Bob Wright. 1979 and I became NUM of Lidcombe Hospital Intensive Care, then of Bankstown Hospital Intensive Care and also Coronary Care units in 1983.

A work accident removed me from nursing (but I didn’t make a workers comp claim) and I switched to agency nursing, which I have done since 1987 and have worked most Sydney hospitals over the years.  It opened many windows on the variety of care practices, and the different responses and attitudes of nursing staff.

The main character I see is that of the disillusioned burnt-out  nurse, who brings his/her frustrations to the work place and thus transfers her attitudes to new nurses. The ‘family’ atmosphere that seemed to pervade the 1970’s hospitals has become cold.

In addition, the rapidly escalating deterioration of  lifestyle and eating habits of the general population is creating a landslide of physical vegetables, on a roller-coaster ride to drug-company hell.  I enjoy educating everyone about nutritional health, about the stand they should take to save their bodies/ replenish themselves, and to repair the mental, physical, financial damage they have done.

I thrive on work as a critical care nurse and often spend 60-80 hour weeks in acute care areas. I enjoy motivating, encouraging and redirecting other health care workers (and patients plus their ‘others’) into better health options.

Nursing, for me is a complete energy recharge.  There is so  much to do (too much!) with so little time to do it in!

5 COMMENTS

  1. the final frontier i liked your story i have also been nursing for a long time well since 1974 and i do agree with theenergy recharge and would like to be amoungst the future when alt therapy twines in with traditional care
    im ever caring for the whole person and somtimes i see careers getting too busy with pen and paper and i feel nurses are getting pushed for time its sad but when we do have the time to have one on one its bloody great and you go home feeling you can return the next shift we push on because we care

  2. Final Frontier again I tried to talk my daughters into doing nursing, but my wife (also and RN) wouldn’t allow it, scaring them off so they wouldn’t suffer as she had. I kept trying to tell her that nursing is a guaranteed doorway to the world, and is a phenomenal training ground to do anything later. It’s the ultimate base that will allow you to survive. Unfortunately, my wife takes the ‘game’ to heart. She feels the insults, punches , threats. She brings it all home and has to be defused and reconditioned. I keep telling her to start another job, but she returns, as feels she can’t leave her friends on their own.
    As a nurse, she’s better than me – she always takes care of all the little things that matter – regular hair shampoos/ teeth/ remake beds/ back rubs if patients are uncomfortable/ organises home care needs etc.
    I recharge when I hit the work area. If I weren’t married I’d be doing 16-hour days 6 days a week ( once did 35 days straight with 18 16-hour shifts in there – when my family were overseas).
    I work with a few others who did similar in the past. When you stop treating nursing as a ‘job’ then you lose the tiredness and frustrations. Aim to make a difference every day, and aim to improve in some way every person you meet, whether it’s staff or patient, or a relative.

  3. Another male respondant ?? This must be the old blokes club in Nursing !!

    However, I object to working long hours, for nothing more than the
    ‘ pleasure ‘ or the ‘ rush ‘ of it.

    Unfortunately, in the Private Sector, such behaviour is abused by managers, and it is then expected, that all staff will work UNPAID time, in order to get unreasonable workloads done.

    Short rostering of staff is then normalised, with no provision for Sick Leave replacement…. because our senior staff are so ‘ charged up ‘, they’ll carry the load, and get the shift through.

    Sorry guys, I refuse to work for nothing, not even ‘ love of the job ‘.

    The 70s / 80s are gone. Manipulative HR managers will abuse you til you drop, if you make it known, that you are willing to put in hours and hours for free.

    I have a female RN at my place of employment, who doesn’t live with anyone ( except the cats ). I have to say to her each evening – GO HOME !! She regularly works two hours past her shift end time. The management expect us all to do unpaid computer data entry, because she does. She says she loves it all, including chatting to the night staff, but what it really means, is the we can’t get on with our work, until she’s gone.

    Anyway, I nearly left Nursing. Had to find a job where I wasn’t going to be abused by the expectation of working long hours without pay…. just to fit into the title of Nurse.
    regards,

  4. i agree i tried to fit what i can into the short time we are a work but it never seems enough and when i work my but off missing breaks so thta i can get out n time to pick my kids up then someone who has had a heap of breaks whilst i do the work then walks out at the same time i do really erks me

  5. Stumbled back into my own post! I am on so many blogs these days, in between Facebook and working in hospitals (ICU/ED/CTICU etc) Monday to Friday; and as head of security at a resort Friday & Saturday. Then there is my entertainment magazine and also the employment agency I run.
    Health and safety therefore are my life and safety of course is an extension of the former. The major issue is nursing, which gave the experience and entry into nutrition and health, so the decades I spent here, always trying to advocate health to those in my ‘control’ despite often blank expressions (often also related to the situation of a suddenly ill or dying ‘concerned other’) showed me how little is actually known about health and nutrition in the real world.
    Anyway, agency nursing is the topic. Agency nursing gives the total freedom and flexibility to live your own life, choosing shifts and days, and the ability to take off a week or more weeks, as you wish.
    Of course you get no pay when you don’t work, but you CAN claim long service it seems at numerous placements.
    Best of all, you should always consider not working for the agency, but becoming your OWN agency, supplying yourself as well as friends and others that you yourself can recruit. It is now VERY easy to start your own agency!
    Not only will you make a wage off your OWN shifts, but a commission you charge the client for staff you supply, including yourself.
    You didn’t really think agencies made NO MONEY did you. Anyway, I am rebuilding my nursing agency website of bnanurses.com.au which will have the details or find me on Facebook for information.
    Then there is your option number 2 which is health advocacy to save the 2 million of the Australian population that are now overweight ( and it is getting worse). You have the opportunity to get involved in nutrition, weight loss, fitness for YOURSELF (to save your family members’ lives and your friends’) but also have the chance to earn a supplemental income, or make a career income. Once again, ask me how at bnanurses@gmail.com

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