The phony

I have said several times throughout my blog that I feel like a fake when at clinicals- that I really don’t know what I am doing and hope no one figures me out. Well, I am starting to feel fake outside of the hospital too. For example, when I was on the plane on my way to Dallas, I started thinking to myself, what would happen if someone on this flight had an emergency medical problem? Little student nurse Katie would come to their rescue!! I sat there for a few minutes daydreaming about saving someone’s life thousands of feet in the air- and was rudely interrupted by someone a few rows back coughing loudly. Oh no, they could be choking!! Where do I hide!!!!???? I don’t know what to do!  That was my honest initial reaction. So much for being the hero, huh? Of course, the person was not choking, and once my heart rate returned to normal, I was left thinking about how poorly equipped my brain is to handle a real emergency.
Before my accelerated program started, I was a waitress. I was not a very good waitress, and here is why: If I was at table 4, and my customers asked for two Cokes and a water, I would have to say over and over in my head, "T4, 2 Cokes, 1 water. T4, 2 cokes, 1 water…." until I had their drinks poured. Now, lets say someone at table two stopped me on my way to pour the drinks. They requested a straw. No big deal. Now its, "T4, 2 Cokes, 1 water. T2, straw." Over and over, almost like a song in my head. I’m doing fine, until someone at table 1 says that their food is burnt, and they expect a response from me. I talk with them for a moment, and continue on my way to pour the drinks, "T2, 4 Cokes and a straw. T2 water. T12, do I have table 12?!" Who wanted a water?! My brain obviously cannot handle more than one task at once. I quickly learned to start carrying a little notebook with me, and I wrote everything down. My coworkers, who have no trouble remembering simple drink orders, found this hilarious, and since this was when the movie "The Notebook" was out, I was the butt of way too many jokes. Anyways, I brought my waitressing skills up because while watching ER recently, I realized that nurses need to remember a lot, just like waitresses. When handling an emergency, a doctor will shout out, "Start IV 5% dextrose in .45 normal saline at 35 ml/hr. I need the bla bla bla results and get started on the arwlkgyeorh meds NOW!"  The nurses on the show have absolutely no problem remembering the five things they were just told to do. How the heck do they do that!? I would be so scared I’d miss something or switch two numbers…  I hope that this is a skill you learn quickly!

24 thoughts on “The phony

  1. Hey there! If you are really worried about it, maybe you should start off in a doctor\’s office or something instead of the ER of a major hospital. hehe. Just kidding! I\’m sure you\’ll be fine. I\’m sure a lot of student nurses feel that way. Good luck and happy holidays! =)

  2. Oh my gosh! I thought I was the only one with this problem. I have so much trouble trying to remember multiple things too! If I don\’t keep repeating them to myself in my head or write them down…you might as well forget it! My boss has a horrible habit of blurting out ten thousand things she wants me to do all at once. Most of the time I end up asking her to repeat herself because I forgot half the things she told me. I have found that I have gotten a little better since starting here 2 years ago. I have a feeling you\’ll do just fine! I\’m sure there are lots of others out there that are the same way.

  3. what happens is you do it so often, those five things, they become so common and y ou don\’t even think about it anymore, so you are able to add five NEW things to it! lolFor me, its…turn on the strobe lights, turn on the camera, turn DOWN the radio, flip the blinker! Thats all automatic now, so then I can think about weather I need to pull my gun or not! lol

  4. I\’m *dying*! How funny! I would NEVER have made a good waitress for similar reasons, and I am fortunate enough to say I never tried. I stayed near a computer that remembered everything I needed it to and reminded me when I needed it to. 🙂 Well, most of the time… lol!No problem on the videos–I\’m at the end of the current pile. I have *several* more on my computer, but I can\’t upload because the server I post to is waiting for more memory sometime between now and the next two days… Blast! How long are you in Dallas??

  5. Don\’t forget that is a TV show with actors that have memorized lines and have reshearsed that scene several times. Usually you have to have several years of experience before you can work in a ER. I have had fears of this same thing and I asked a friend who is a RN how she handles it and she said it becomes second nature and it is a learned thing. Hope that helps and I love your blog! Keep your chin up and work hard! 🙂

  6. I\’m the same way, I can sympathize with you! Only one thing at a time! Believe in yourself, it works every time!Cordaville

  7. This is how I think it goes…Since I WAS a good waitress, and could NEVER be a good nurse…I think you\’ll be a GREAT nurse since you were a bad waitress!! Kinda like the :If you are good at chess – you\’ll suck at checkers, thing…LOLTake care, Carrie

  8. eh, don\’t sweat it. it\’s all overwhelming because you are still learning the ropes. once you\’ve been on the floor for a little while things start to become routine. I remember how scared some of the student nurses at my old hospital were when they started, and how much confidence they gained in time. trust me, you have such a great sense of humor, and you seem very bright, you will not have trouble later on. :)(p.s. as far as a crisis goes, you will be amazed how sharp your mind gets during an epinephrine rush!)

  9. I know how you feel, I too was a horrible waitress except if I got distracted the people would never get what they asked for, and of course they would get mad. Hopefully that doesn\’t happen when I finish nursing school. I just wanted to add one more thing that is totally unrelated. The hospital I work for just got (a year ago) a new software system that is suppose to be great. If you hear the words CITRIX, CERNER, PROFIT, or POWERCHART RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! This thing is a 10 million dollar bankruptcy machine. It wouldn\’t be so bad if the dang thing worked but it doesn\’t, and the "Tech Support" people tell us it is working as designed!?! What the heck does that mean! We had the choice between the Lexus of software programs and the Pinto and we chose the Pinto.

  10. sucks being a student nurse…been there done that….just remember after you graduate never hesistate to ask for help or advice….Us nurses that have been around for awhile sometimes know a few things and we\’ve been where you are. And I would be lying if I were to say I never fake it because sometimes I still do.

  11. LOL! I love your site. I look forward to this very candid glimpse of your life. You are no phony… are very real!!! So many times in my life, I\’ve had to interact with medical personnel who seem detached or to know-it-all. They don\’t invite questions or interaction and aren\’t actually involved with the patient….they are medical robots! You will never be one of those! I know that most medical personnel are spoon fed the old adage "Don\’t get emotionally involved with your patients, it precludes being able to do your job effectively". What a lot of Whooey!! Always – ALWAYS stay real, stay connected. Look into the eyes of your patient, take their hand in yours and smile. Be compassionate because most of the time, they are way more frightened than you are. Whenever I need medical attention, I hope I get a nurse just like you!!!! Keep on "Keepin\’ on"!

  12. poor girl..I know exactly what you mean. Multi-tasking is a skill you learn only through experience. Cept for some people who are born perfect and do everything perfect, on the outside anyways who KNOWS what goes on Once you get some wet saddle blankets out of that situation your in, the thought process will come a little more natural and you\’ll know what to do without even thinkin. Just takes time and experience to build your confidence. There you go-then life will be bliss-then you have children..LOLOL..jk :)Thanx for comin by my placePrayers and Peace from a Kansas Cowgirl thats had a few wet saddle blankets in her life. Have kids now and life is still bliss..LMAO..for the most part.;)May all you do be blessed.

  13. Hey! Thanks for stopping by my space! I\’ll try my hardest to do what u said, but I know today will be hard cuz i\’m having one of my Fat days! hehe….well I love this blog! It is what I think about all the time too! For instance, when I think about when I\’ll be doing my own puppy classes etc I think "Will I remember what to do when two dogs get in a fight?" or I am worried I will forget things and tell people to do the wrong things with their dogs etc……silly me! Before I wanted to be a Dog Behaviourist I wanted to get into Radiology. I wasn\’t even taking courses at school or anything yet and I kept on worrying about if I\’d do a good job or not, if I\’d forget things I\’d learned etc. This is why one of my resolutions for 2006 is to stop worrying so much! This kind of reminds me of a Simpsons episode when the teachers don\’t have their teachers edition textbooks anymore and can\’t teach the class…….anyway! I really enjoy reading your blogs! They are really awesome!

  14. hey thanks for stopping by my space…and the shirt…hmmm…i think…i got it…at…jcpenny…maybe…girl i go shopping so much i dont even know where i get half my clothes from…lol…so will u be in dallas for a while?

  15. Oh I\’m so glad someone else out there has this problem! But you will find that when push comes to shove you do remember what is needed… you kinda go on autopilot, I guess. You\’ll be great! Pretty soon everything will become routine and you\’ll be bored… lol… I know… hahaha

  16. The secret to the way they remember things on the show ER is that they just read the script and memorize it. Unfortunately life is not like that and neither is the ER. The best you can do is to just know what you are doing. I have a fantastic memory, however, I would really suck as a waiter. Maybe it is because I am not good at taking orders…. or my memory is more fluid and works..OMG I hate to say it… outside the box. I think if you know all you can know, then everything else will just come to you as you are doing it. I would not be worried about being nervous as this happens to everyone no matter what they are doing. As soon as you are immersed in the work environment all of what you know will feel like second nature. You will just do it.Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.Warren

  17. The nurses on ER have no problems remembering it b/c they are all actresses and other than saying, "Ok" or "right away", they don\’t have to actually go any further wth it. Don\’t get yourself down. I\’m sure it will come with time. When it does, then you\’ll get to have the last laugh…after all, you\’ll actually know what it all means…the actresses most likely don\’t. ;-)-Ken

  18. I am a recent graduate of nursing school, a week ago today. I start working in the ED Jan 9th. Right now I am working as a waitress. The entire time I have been in nursing school I have been the momma nurse of everyone at work. I understand how you feel like you won\’t be able to remember things. I just keep telling myself that they won\’t let me near a big trauma until I can deal with the little stuff. Good luck with everything, dear. When you graduate look at Alabama. You can\’t swing a cat around here without hitting a nursing job.

  19. Hey kiddo.Your experiencing the same thing we all go through at one time or another. Find people or coworkers that you can talk to.Tasks will become second nature once you put them into perspective. ER\’s are not for everyone( I spent 20 yrs. in ER) and yes it is very stressful nursing; but also rewarding.My best advice is find a preceptor/mentor that is willing to take you under their wing. I can say that some of my most meaningful years were spent sharing my skills with nurses as a preceptor.I have only grown as a nurse because I continue to give back to fellow nurses.Hang in there, you\’ll be just fine. Bill T.

  20. Oh, and by the way the "nurses" on ER(not the featured characters ) are actually nurses. They did that so the flow of the action would have a realistic look…works pretty good huh. Bill T.

  21. ROFL, I just HAD to comment when I read this post…did you climb into my head and get this from there?I have often thought the same thing when flying or on a boat "what if something happens? I\’ll have to save them! Will I know what to do?"Now that I\’m actually emplyed as an ER nurse, your other story also applies. The doc gives me a laundry list of orders and I walk straight to the pyxis repeating "1mg of ativan, 5 of morphine" over and over!

  22. that was the funniest and most honest thing i\’ve ever read. i can totally relate to the feeling phony thing. i graduate in may and work in labor and delivery now, and almost want to carry around a cord clamp and suction bulb with me JUST IN CASE someone happens to go into labor when i\’m passing by.

  23. hi . . .just stumbled across your blog in the technorati stuff . . . the \’phony\’ feeling u describe is something we all feel (i have been a hospital RN here in Canada for the past 5 years) – – most of refer to it as panic, but call it whatever u want, it is definitely real . . . the only way to manage this is to really convince yourself that u know your stuff . . . at first this may mean carrying around all those little pocket reference books, cheat notes, drug cards, etc . . . believe it or not, as u practice more and more, all this stuff will be like second nature . . .yes, ER is just a show, with a script, but if u watch TLC, where they have the reality tv ER show (ie real patients, nurses, docs) u will see docs shouting orders and nursing executing those orders . . . the first time u are ever in a \’code blue\’ situation u will be blown away by how everyone seems to know whats going on, depsite absolute CHAOS! How do those nurses know what they\’re doing? Well, most experienced nurses haved learned to anticipate what the doc will do . . . and in many cases we are the ones that prompt them or remind them of certain courses of action . . . i admire u for taking on such an often unpleansant and always challenging career . . . good luck with your studies . . . . and remember, the hospital is not necessarily where its at!

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