Incident Report

The text message from #2 came in at 8:08 a.m. just as I was heading out the door.  “Incident report!”

#2 is in her third year of a 4 year nursing degree programme.  A scholarship recipient and placed in the top 10% of her class, she has a part-time job at a major teaching and research hospital.  She’s a patient observer – a sitter for patients who need 24-hour observation and more care than the harried nursing staff can consistently provide.

She had been working a string of 12-hour night shifts, usually providing basic care and observing challenging, often mentally agitated patients.

The words “incident report” can evoke a feeling of anxiety in the most seasoned nurse.  No one likes to be associated with them.  We have to fill them in if we make a mistake, witness a mistake, become injured or abused or if one of our patients is abused, has a fall or is hurt.

Oh my gosh!  What happened?  What did you do?  Are you OK?  Questions raced through my mind in the split second after reading her text.

#2’s patient was a very elderly, confused lady who had been agitated off and on throughout the night.  In the early morning, she needed to go to the bathroom.  Like the good patient observer she is, my daughter assisted her to the bathroom.  Returning her to bed proved challenging since the patient kept insisting on wandering into the beds of the other three patients in the room.  When my daughter explained repeatedly where her bed was, the elderly lady slapped her in the face and raised her cane as if to strike her.

Some people would be horrified with what happened to my daughter.   For nurses and student nurses, it’s an occupational hazard, another day on the job.

My daughter was fine.  She took it in stride. She didn’t blame her confused patient.

I’m actually glad this happened.  While #2 is a student, she’s experiencing many of the things she’ll have to deal with as a staff RN:  fatigue, stress, shift work, difficult situations, challenging patients, staff issues.

Being a nurse is rewarding but can often be frustrating.  It’s not easy dealing with illness, death, frightened, angry, vulnerable patients and their families.  Add to that the stress of other colleagues.  It’s not for everybody.  At some point in our career, even those of us who love the profession become discouraged and consider leaving.  For some of us, we really should leave.

I’m very proud of my daughter.  She handled the incident report with maturity.  I can see she’s developing that distinctive nursing sense of humour  – the ability to laugh at situations that would make other people gasp.  It’s not insensitivity; it’s a defense mechanism against an incredibly stressful job.

Consider that incident report a rite of passage, #2.  Hopefully, your career will be long and rewarding without too many of those reports in your bright future.

St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of nurses, look after my baby.

Deo Gratias

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15 Responses to Incident Report

  1. I have nothing but the highest regard for nurses and doctors, especially for those who take car of our seniors. My mom was in an Alzheimer’s ward until she passed in 2010. The people that took care of hear were truly dedicated people with a lot of love in their hearts. The same was true for dad as he died of pneumonia 3 weeks later. He got great care and I can’t say enough about the hospice nurses in both cases. It’s a job that not everyone can do: it takes some very dedicated and loving people to fill that void. We should all be praying for these servants of God.

    • Thank you. I’m happy that your parents received the dignified care they deserved in their last days. From your comments, it seems that you were well treated too. It’s important that we not only look at the illness, but that we consider the whole person, including their loved ones.

  2. My long time friend of close to 20 years is now a nurse (I wrote all of her glowing recommendations to help get her scholarships, etc.) and she told me that she never had any idea just how difficult it truly would be. She loves it, but she said that the stress is beyond what she expected. It is good to see that your daughter is handling it so well and was so kind – many people would become bitter and angry, and carry with that into the future, affecting how they treat other patients. It sounds like she will make a wonderful nurse, like my friend…and it sounds like she takes after you as well. 😉

  3. lilyboat says:

    It is a very holy vocation, and I wish for many blessings for her. So many out there putting themselves on the front line out of their love for others. Hope is alive!

  4. Biltrix says:

    Nursing is one of those occupations, like firefighting and policing, I admire, but would never have considered for myself — I know I’m just not cut out for it. It has to be a vocation. My friends who are RNs have the patience of Job and the meekness of Moses. God bless ’em! God bless your #2 too.

  5. Thanks, Biltrix, for your supportive words and for the prayers for my colleagues and my daughter.

  6. Pingback: Awards, Awards, Awards–Thank You, Thank You, Thank You | The Lamehousewife Blog

  7. bigblackcatholic says:

    Nurses are a godsend! I had some of THE BEST nurses take care of me when I had my son. God bless anyone who feels called to serve others!

  8. Thanks for coming by my blog. I am reading a book right now about nurses and how hard their job is. I use to be a stylist so I know a lot about customer service. You have 8 kids and obviously are excellent at meeting the needs of others, and have a compassionate heart. I wish you blessings daily. ♥ Jackie

  9. Teresa Rice says:

    Nurses are excellent and so caring. The nurses I’ve had have always been top notch, especially in my overnight stays at the hospital. I never knew being a nurse could be so hazardous to one’s health. Tell #2 good luck with her nursing career. God Bless.

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