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Career Story: Registered Nurse In A Cardiothoracic Stepdown Unit

Registered Nurse In A Cardiothoracic Stepdown Unit

Job Title: Registered Nurse At A Cardiothoracic Stepdown Unit

Type of Company: I work in a hospital taking care of the sick.

Education: BSN, Nursing, Northeastern University

Previous Experience: I worked at my current hospital as a student nurse and have had cooperative education experiences in different units in the hospital.

Job Tasks: I work on a critical care stepdown unit which is considered to be a step between an ICU and a regular floor. This is where patients who need closer monitoring of their neurological status, heart rhythms, vital signs and respiratory status are assessed every two hours (instead of every hour in an ICU setting or every 4-8 hours on a regular floor).

I administer medications by injection and intravenously or orally as required. And like all nurses, I have to decide whether ordered medications are appropriate, especially if a patient has allergies or if there are other counter-indications I'm aware of. I also have to monitor the response the patient has to a particular med.

With patients who have undergone surgery or suffered wounds, I am responsible for assessing the skin and providing the appropriate dressing change or wound care. I assist patients with ambulation and physical therapy, both of which are critical to maintaining circulation and muscle tone. I monitor patients' gastrointestinal status to make sure the excretory organs are functioning properly. Dialysis through a special tube in the abdomen is sometimes required when a patient has kidney failure.

Most importantly, I am there for the patients and their families for emotional support.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the progress my patients make. It is so rewarding to see a direct link to something I did for my patients and a positive outcome. I love to be a part of a team, collaborating with other specialists in finding the best interventions to be provided to aid in the recovery of a patient.

The worst part of my job is obviously when there is a poor outcome for a patient. But sometimes, too, the communication with the doctors leaves a little to be desired.

Job Tips: I would definitely attend a four-year college. Nursing jobs come in waves. One minute there is a shortage, the next minute there are too many and there are very few jobs to be found. Currently the jobs are scarce and employers will only look at a BSN applicant. Don't get discouraged though, because next year they will be offering sign-on bonuses.

If you can work as a nurse's aide in a hospital setting or home care that will help you decide if nursing is for you. It will also help you get your foot in the door.

Additional Thoughts: Qualities you must have to be a good nurse are thoughtfulness and compassion. People do not understand that nurses are the ones there for the patients every minute of the day, tending to every need. Patients often say that it is the nurse they thank for their recovery and not the doctor.

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