Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good Day

Yesterday was the best day I've ever had at work. And by "yesterday" I do mean "Saturday."

"Why was it the best day you had at work?" one who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis might ask. And I will tell the ones who wonder:

My job is like fighting in a war with a new battle every day. In these battles I am never allowed to advance, only hold the line. On the best days, when I come in, everyone on the schedule has shown up for work. They get there on time and they do their jobs. The line is strong and we will not lose any ground. Also, no one calls in sick the for the next day so I don't have to rush around asking nurses if they want overtime or making phone calls asking those at home if they want overtime or hoping that one of the registry nurses will come in. On the best days that doesn't happen.

On normal days, we've taken casualties in the battle and we've called in some reinforcements to help us hold the line. Then the sick calls come in and I rush around medical and make calls so that I can get the reinforcements lined up for the next day to make sure the line in held. During normal days there are several time when it looks like the line might be pushed back, but it isn't. We hold, just barely.

There are too many days, though, where by the time I get to work we've been forced to retreat and regroup. Someone called in sick during the late afternoon or the night and we couldn't fill that hole. We had to spread our line a little thin in that area to make sure it's getting covered by someone or else we fall back so we can, for the day, eliminate that position entirely. It's not an elegant solution, it's not a good solution, but it's a solution that has to happen quite often. These are also the day when I have to deliver the news to nurses that they're going to have some involuntary overtime, either they're going to stay a second shift or be forced to come in early the next morning. I don't force them to stay, I just warn them that they may be forced. I'm sure one can imagine how happy that makes everyone feel.

Real shitty days are the days the line's been bombarded and we lose massive amounts of our people. We call in all the reinforcements we can, but there are still holes. Several nurses get forced into mandatory overtime, but there are still holes. And in the end I am asked what went wrong, why did things go so bad? And all I can blame is the flu or nothing at all.

So, there you have it. Each day I go to work and I fight a battle that I'm not actually allowed to win. Too many extra people wouldn't be cost-effective on the days everyone because those extra people would just stand around and do nothing. So I have to wait until we lose position before any reinforcements can be called in and I have to hope that there'll be enough so that if we have to retreat, we won't have to retreat very far.


Gabriel said...

I'm a Canadian nurse and I found your post amusing, a bit morbid, and real. What area do you work in the hospital?

ticknart said...

I work as the keeper of the nurse schedule for the medical department at a prison here in California.