Day In The Life

I’ve recently started mentoring a high school student who is thinking about pursuing a nursing career. In our first meeting she asked may great questions about schooling, pros & cons of the job, and overcoming challenges. I had answers for just about every one. However, then she asked me what my typical day looks like and I had to think about it. Each day is so different and, while you try to stick to somewhat of a schedule, you just kinda roll with it as it happens.

So, out of curiosity myself, my last shift I decided to write down everything I did. Here’s a day in the life of a nurse on an acute medical progressive respiratory unit:

0500– wake up

0530 – eat breakfast

0600 – throw meal prep into lunch box

0610– leave for work

0630 – walk from parking ramp to hospital

0640 – change shoes and grab PPE from locker room

0650 – check patient & NA assignment for the day

0658 – clock in

0700 – get report

0730 – stop IV beeping

0740 – help NA boost patient #1

0754 – request missing med from pharmacy

0758 – pass morning meds to patient #1

0818 – message MD about patient #2

0824 – take phone call from special pathogens team regarding patient #2

0832 – pass morning meds to patient #2

0855 – pass meds & take vitals on patient #3

0900 – answer phone call from patient #2’s mom & give an update

0915 – help NA take patient #2 to the bathroom & collect a urine sample

0930 – chart AM assessments

0945 – attend discharge rounds

1015 – snack & water break

1039 – message NP about level of care change on patient #1

1040 – check emails

1100 – huddle

1105 – talk to pharmacy about missing medication for patient #1

1113 – finally get missing AM medication for patient #1, administer

1202 – draw labs from PICC on patient #1

1211 – pass noon meds to patient #2

1221 – pass noon meds to patient #3 and help NA with reposition

1235 – chart noon assessments

1300 – work on calculating vacation time

1330 – go into patient #1’s room to stop IV beeping, take patient to the toilet and help them back into bed

1400 – give ice pack and pain meds to patient #2

1409 – measure morning telemetry strips for all 3 patients

1420 – talk to pharmacy regarding IV fluids for patient #2

1430 – draw labs from IV on patient #2, tube to lab

1439 – start fluids on patient #2

1500 – cover another nurse’s patients while they go to lunch

1505 – give pain meds to one of their patients

1530 – go to lunch

1600 – draw labs & pass meds to patient #2

1615 – delegate patient #3’s med pass and reposition to resource nurse to catch up on charting

1620 – bring patient #2 a cup of coffee & explain their fluid restriction

1630 – chart afternoon assessment

1645 – pack up and move patient #1 to their new room

1650 – measure afternoon telemetry strips for all 3 patients

1658 – look for lost pen

1700 – bandage a bleeding scab for patient #1, give report to oncoming nurse who will be taking over care

1730 – cover another nurse’s patients while they went off unit

1750 – respond to Unit Council emails

1800 – reposition and clean up patient #3

1815– take report from PACU on new admit

1830 – write shift summary notes for all patients

1840 – pass evening meds to patient #2

1853 – settle new patient into room, take vitals, hook them up to heart monitor, help NA with repositioning

1900 – give report to oncoming nurse

1935 – head back to locker room to change shoes & grab backpack

1940 – walk to parking ramp

2000 – get home, shower, reheat leftovers, and hit the hay!

Looking back, the fact that I was even able to write down every task I completed and med I passed was an indication that this was not the busiest shift. Admittedly, my patient’s were quite stable, 2 out of 3 were continent and able to ambulate, and I didn’t get an admission until 10 minutes before my shift ended. So, even if this may have been a more steady shift than others, I still think it’s reflective of the multitasking and care coordination we do on a daily basis.

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