As a child, I knew my gift to help others in distress was ingrained into who I am. I was born to aid people in distress.

I became an ER & ICU Nurse.

There are three major taboo issues that no one talks about in the nursing field to the general public for fear of being shunned out of the hospital system.

Photo by Stephen Hateley on Unsplash

First, and most importantly is nurse safety. Every day I walked into the hospital and literally prayed for my shift to be over before I even arrived. I never knew what my assignment was going to be from day to day. I prayed that I wouldn’t get a violent patient or if I did, the security staff that was on would be able help restrain the patient before I had to medicate them. Being hit, kicked, punch, spit on, verbally abused with God knows what words is not what I signed up for and the worst part was being told to “just deal with it”. I understand that some patients are violent, but it doesn’t mean that I must take that type of abuse. I am a nurse, not an emotional and physical punching bag. The egregious lack of resources to keep nurses safe is sickening. I have witnessed guns being pulled on nurses, physical and emotional abuse, which is now the new normal, and the patient or patient family is always right, no matter what the situation is.

I can recall a time I was seven months pregnant and a patient’s family member swung and tried to hit me because I wouldn’t take a tube out that “was ugly to look at”. The only reason I wasn’t hit in the face was a co-worker grabbed my chair and flung me out of the way.

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Was anything done about it? YES. The family wasn’t allowed back in for the NIGHT! Not the entire hospital stay. Just the 6 hours left of the day. Not only was I walked out to my car because I was afraid someone was going to harm me, but I had to work in a different unit until the family was gone. I was shunned, not the person attempting to harm me! I was doing my job by titrating seven different medications to keep them alive but because the family’s demands were not met, I was violently and verbally abused.

When you sign up to become a nurse, no one tells you the working conditions. You can do your due diligence and research, but that would be real-time data. As the years progress the lack of support continues to be increasingly prevalent.

First and foremost, unsafe working conditions are a serious concern with a simplistic fix of increasing security and instituting rules people must abide by.

Second, is staffing demands. As a bedside nurse in the ER and ICU I knew that I would have two patients if I was in the unit. Until I didn’t. I had three. Now, I understand if you are not in the medical field. THREE!?! That seems like a breezy task, right? Well, I will paint a picture for you, but I want you to imagine that one of the patients is your mom, dad, or your favorite person in the world.

Imagine that your family member is on total life-support. Medications infusing into their IVs and a ventilator is breathing for them. Now, imagine all the machines beeping because they are malfunctioning, and the ventilator sounds different than it did. Whether it’s an “air-in-line/occluded” error message or the medication has run out or simply the breathing treatment is complete. I cannot be found. I am stuck in another patient’s room tending to their life altering condition or swimming in a pile of feces because there aren’t enough nurses or patient care technicians to help. Imagine you see the monitor with their heart rate dropping and their blood pressure bottoming out… the loud sound from the monitor screaming that it needs attention. You run out of the room and it’s a ghost town. You are watching your family member spiral downhill and you are helpless. This happens more frequently than people want to talk about or admit. If it happens once in a shift or week or month… that is too much. What if that was your family?

As a Nurse, I want to take care of these patients as best as I can, but I am only one person. I can only be in one place at a time much to the dismay of management and the computers that compute how many nurses should be allowed on shift. If you speak up and tell someone about how you feel you are told that “it is what it is”. But is it? When that house supervisor says, “it is what it is” do you think they are imagining their family member spiraling down the tubes?

The hospital is unpredictable, and I am one hundred percent aware of this but it doesn’t mean that nurses should be emotionally and physically compromised to be able to see a few hundred more patients a year. I am constantly put in a position of survival mode. I am hardly able to talk my patients except to triage them. Let alone get their medications on time, so you can run to the next patient to be able to get them out faster to get a new one in.

The lack of support from management, hospital and government is jaw-dropping. They continue to increase the number of patients and decrease the amount of staffing. Over time the sentinel events continue to pile up as a direct correlation to lack of medical professionals and nurse burnout is at an all-time high.

Working in hospitals for 19 years, I was still operating like a robot; clock-in and out, follow policy and procedure, and take more and more sick patients and just deal with it.

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I stopped taking the anxiety, stress, and overwhelm home and reduced it substantially at work when I decided to take care of myself. I decided that an unconventional route of treatment was more effective because I didn’t want to fall into the same cyclical patterns of needing medication. I wanted to manage my Hospital-Induced Anxiety in real-time. I discovered that using what I was given was going to be the best solution. My brain.

Real-Time Transformative Response is a simple solution to debrief, decompress and kick the emotional turmoil created by the hospital. It takes seconds to change your inner balance by using Integrative Neuroscience Techniques. Over the last few years, the working condiditons continued to decline but I wasn’t willing to stay on the emotional struggle bus. I became a mom. I didn’t want to show my kids that life is a cyclical groundhog day pattern and you cannot control it. I wanted to figure out how I could be a nurse and not bring everything home with me. I know that this does not fix the unsafe environment or the unsafe patient to staff ratios, but it does help to feel emotionally balanced so you can tackle your next shift feeling more energetic, less stressed, and potentially get back to helping patients because you want to. Not because you have too. I have helped tons of nurses change their lives by using simple, real-time techniques that work.

The growing trend of overworking bedside staff has become the new normal. Staff nurses are not a dime a dozen. They are caring individuals that deserve the same time, effort and energy as their patients get.

Ashleigh Boyd R.N.

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