Note: This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired May 5, 2014.
With days full of physical assessments, patient advocacy, connecting with patients' families, and communicating with physicians, a nurse’s work is never done. And when a hospital is understaffed or under-resourced, nurses take on more patients and extra shifts.
Host Frank Stasio talks with three North Carolina nurses about the challenges and joys of nursing: Ann King, nurse practitioner at Wayne Memorial Hospital and professor at East Carolina University's School of Nursing; Leslie Sharpe, nurse practitioner at Sylvan Community Health Center in Snow Camp, NC; and Erica Saunders, nurse at the UNC Physicians Network and the Triangle Regional Director for the North Carolina Nurses Association.
A nurse's assessment goes beyond checking the tests and reading the chart. "Oftentimes, you can take the patient's blood pressure. You can draw labs. You can do all of those things. Sometimes it can give you a picture of what is going on with the patient, but sometimes they don't give the picture," says Erica Saunders. "And you have an intuition: something is not right with the patient." Her intuition about a patient whose tests were clear were right; he was bleeding internally.
Providing information to a dying patient's family can be challenging. "You give the best information you have at that moment," says nurse practitioner Leslie Sharpe.
Communicating is even more difficult when it is a matter of life and death. A patient's wife asked me, "Why won't he die?" But she was saying to him daily, "I can't make it without you." I told her that maybe he needed to hear that she would be ok.