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Career Story: Registered Nurse In A Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Registered Nurse In A Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Job Title: Registered Nurse

Type of Company: I work for a large medical center in the city of Albany, New York.

Education: BSN, Binghamton University

Previous Experience: A summer nursing externship at a local medical center helped get my foot in the door.

Job Tasks: I work in a cardiothoracic surgical intensive care unit. I receive patients directly from the OR after open heart, vascular, or thoracic surgeries and stabilize them. They often have many IV drips running, and are on a ventilator to help them breathe. It is my job to either maintain the drugs and the ventilator, or to wean the patient off them. These patients are often very sick and very unstable and require a lot of one-on-one care.

If I am not caring for a patient fresh out of the OR, I spend a typical day assessing patients I've been assigned to, giving them their ordered medications, and training them how to help themselves recover after major surgery. It requires close observation of the patients' overall condition and vital signs. It also requires an ability to think independently. The objective, always, is to send the patients home or transfer them to the cardiothoracic step-down unit.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is caring for other human beings and seeing them get better over time. To see that your work goes toward a good cause is always rewarding and makes it easier to come in every day. Some patients and their families leave a lasting impression on you.

The worst part of the job is the stress of caring for another life. You are a licensed professional, and if something goes terribly wrong with a patient you have to be quick on your feet and take the correct actions to make sure the patient survives or has the best outcome possible. Patients can get violent, families can get angry, and the work environment can get stressful.

Job Tips: The best way to know if nursing is for you is to shadow nurses, and not just one, but a few who work in different areas. There are too many kinds of nursing to observe just one! Ask these nurses how they like their jobs and what the pros and cons are. Some schools offer introductory courses into the health field, teaching basics such as anatomy and pharmacology. Taking classes like these may help you find out whether it's an area you'd truly be interested in or not.

Additional Thoughts: If you enjoy caring for people and you have an interest in the human body, nursing is most likely a job you'll enjoy! It will always be in demand and there are endless opportunities for nurses. You don't have to stop with your RN, you can go on to become a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist... The list goes on and on!

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