Tales from the MICU...

Hi everyone…
…I’ve had little time here lately. As some here know, I’ve spent 3 weeks training full-time to assist in the MICU of the hospital nearby. Now that I’m “trained”, I’m working 3 evening shifts per week, which gives me family and study time. Just completed my first week of evenings…that’s been good. The evening crew of nurses are top-notch and I’ve got a wonderful preceptor.
The MICU has 24 single rooms (4 quads of 6); some are temporary, contact isolation rooms, some are negative pressure rooms for pts w/ airborne diseases. Most/many of our patients have tubes, leads, drains and caths in & out of everywhere imaginable and about a third to a half of them (depending on what the patient mix is on a particular day) are on vents…either tubes or trachs. Each room has a floor to ceiling “power column” w/touch screen monitors (for BPs, heart rates, EKGs, O2 sats, etc…can see all 6 patients’ heart rhythms simultaneously on the monitor in each nurses station). The MICU also has its own pharmacy and respiratory depts/teams. Many of the critical care nurses are cross-trained for hemodialysis.
So, while I’m still learning all the gee-whiz equipment and where every little gizmo is kept, I’m enjoying being there with the patients, doctors, and nurses…plus everyone else (i.e. pt. families, allieds, etc.). Have seen some fine treatment/care of patients, some behavior from a resident that I NEVER want to imitate (!), some patients dying, some healing well enough to get to a regular room…it’s been good overall. I’m enjoying the patients a lot…lip-reading a lot too…all those trachs!
Many of the doctors and nurses have a “you go girl” response if I tell them about post-bacc/med school plans. Of course not everyone responds that way, but most of the doctors and nurses will explain things to me as they’re working along because they know my interest at the MICU is not “just a job”. I read patient charts and orders whenever I’m done with my responsibilities and I’m not needed elsewhere…and look up everything I can…self-made education right there. wink.gif So far, so good…as things come up, I’ll try to get 'em posted here. Take care everyone!

Sounds like really great experience, Mary. I'm sure I missed it somewhere along the way, but what job exactly do you have? I've wanted to get a parttime in our ICU where I volunteer, but all the patient contact jobs are 12 hour shifts. Not good for someone with 3 young kids and a husband who travels!

Hi…officially, I’m a (lowly) assistant right now. That means everything from “playing bedpan alley” and scutwork to more hands-on patient care: maintaining lines and tubes, doing vitals & chemsticks, and just “being there” for patients. I did a portable EKG at the bedside the other night…patient was experiencing severe chest pain. He’s fine…and still has a great sense of humor despite a MI and a trach. (Humor can be a good defense!).
If they still like me ( rolleyes.gif ) after the six months “probationary period”, then I’ll train as a PCA for the MICU…(or I can move to any other department after six months, if there are job openings in other departments). The PCA gets to do more… like cathederize patients and deep suctioning of trachs, etc.
My husband and I are juggling schedules a bit so I can work. He gets home for our now-10 year old for school bus time during the weekdays. I actually like working weekends because I still have mornings at home, we don’t need to do the school bus thing, and I get to spend more time w/patients and reading their charts…and not so much time transporting them all over the hospital for tests and procedures. So 3-11:30pm is working out to be a good thing!
My previous background is mostly non-medical…other than years of volunteering, plus some shadowing, so finding medical work was a Catch-22 situation: I kept getting told that “you’re over qualified”, but I’m not medically licensed (yet) wink.gif . It took over a month to get hired. Even though the MICU manager wanted to hire me (and get me trained up as an assistant in Nov), it took the hospital’s HR folks an “extra” month to check out my references…I did the training in Dec, so now I’m “good to go”.
Question/idea: If you’re already volunteering in an ICU, (and of course they like you!), can you approach your management with the possibility of a split shift?! Something that would work with your schedule…maybe PRN or per diem? Maybe something can be worked out…just a 2 cent thought! Also, if there are other hospitals in your area, getting hired by one of them is also a possibility. (I checked each hospital’s web site for employment openings before I approached them for work. The web sites and the classifieds gave me some sense of the lay of the land for what medical work was out there).
Good luck…with your volunteering background you stand a good shot at it!