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Career Story: Nurse In A Maternity Ward

Nurse In A Maternity Ward

Job Title: Women's And Infant Services Nurse

Type of Company: I work at a hospital in the northwestern quadrant of Washington, D.C.

Education: BS, Nursing

Previous Experience: I worked as a staff nurse in a surgical unit, attending to patients who were about to be operated on or had just emerged from surgery.

Job Tasks: I'm a staff nurse currently in the Women's and Infants' service division of our hospital, where I'm responsible for direct patient care. On a typical day, I care for four or five mother/baby pairs. Healthy infants remain with their moms after birth and at the start of my shift I do a physical assessment of each mom-and-child pair I'm assigned to, reporting any issues to the attending physician and obtaining new orders as needed.

Later in my shift, I make sure that doctors' orders have been carried out. These can range from drawing blood to administering medication to supplying treatments and briefing patients. Because new moms rarely stay more than 2-4 days, my unit sees a constant stream of patient and before they're discharged, I have to brief every one. This is a big part of my job, since, unlike most of the units in a hospital, we focus more on teaching than on medicines and treatment. Not surprisingly, we tend to focus on breast feeding (90% of our mothers breast feed in the hospital) and on neonatal care.

Everything we do has to be recorded in the computerized hospital chart. But at the end of each shift we also have to brief our replacements, making sure they're aware of any outstanding issues and of the things they'll have to tend to in the course of their shift.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is taking care of newborns and teaching their parents how to care for them. I love first-time parents. They're eager and receptive and want to do a good job. Tt's a privilege to be around them, most days.

The worst part of my job is being inundated with work. Understaffing or a single tough patient can make it difficult to spread yourself around the way you should. You always have to be conscious of priorities in nursing and of getting the urgent things done right away. But sometimes, at the end of your shift, you can't help feeling that you missed out on critical opportunities 'cause you were busy just putting out fires.

Job Tips:
1.) Whether you only want to work in obstetrics or have broader aspirations, you should first gain experience with the general population. The variety of illnesses you'll encounter will prepare you for work in the medical setting you eventually choose.

2.) Volunteer to work as a nurse's assistant while in college. You will better appreciate the hospital culture when you graduate and you will be much more desirable as an employee.

Additional Thoughts: One of the biggest benefits of being a nurse is you don't have to bring your job home with you. When I leave the hospital at the end of my shift, my replacement takes over. I don't need to worry about my patients; I know they're being cared for. But I also feel respected while at work: that I make a difference in my patients' daily lives

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