Julie Deshaies RN, BSN, Clinical Leader
A Day in the Life of a Surgical Nurse at Hartford Hospital 

Upon arriving on Bliss 8, General Surgery, eager to begin another day, I cannot help but notice the early morning rush quickly coming to a halt.  The interns and residents are scurrying about in an effort to complete their five o'clock morning rounds and the night shift nurses are gathering their things in preparation for morning report.
After filling my coffee mug ever so full, I check the assignments for the day only to notice that I have been assigned the role of charge nurse as well.  Not to worry, however, for a sigh of relief passes over me as I am reassured that my co-workers for today will support me if need be.  Even so, I can only hope that today will be a steady, yet uneventful day.
I begin my patient care rounds after morning report, which start by me introducing myself to all the patients for whom I will be caring for on that day.  Once I have completed this task, I begin my morning assessments and medication administration.  Although there is no specific order in which to complete these skilled tasks, I choose to begin with my most critical patient.  Today, I begin with Mr. Smith, a sixty-seven year old Caucasian male who is post-operative day one after undergoing a Whipple for pancreatic cancer.  As I greet him, he is drowsy, but easily aroused.  His multitude of tubes are neatly hung on the side of his bed.  His abdominal incision is clean, dry and intact with a dry sterile dressing.  His intravenous fluids are infusing and his patient controlled analgesia is infusing and providing adequate pain relief.  Mr. Smith rates his pain a zero on a zero to ten pain scale.  I complete my physical assessment of Mr. Smith, we discuss his goals for the day and agree that three walks today with one assist and usage of his incentive spirometer ten times every hour are appropriate and attainable goals.

Next, I complete Mr. Smith's flow sheet and medications and proceed to see the rest of my patients:  Mrs. Smail, admitted late last night for acute appendicitis; Mrs. Ball, just diagnosed with liver and colon cancer after a left breast mastectomy three years ago; Mr. Tubbs, a thyroidectomy of yesterday who is ready for discharge after breakfast; Mrs. Kissinger, recently diagnosed with diverticulitis; Mr. Casey, a left-hand assisted laparascopic nephrectomy secondary to a renal mass and Mr. Casey, a robotic prostatectomy of this morning.

Following morning assessments and medication administration, it is time to assign the post-operative patients for today.  Once I have assigned the anticipated post surgical patients for today, I will complete the nurse and patient care assistant assignments for the next shift.  Then it is time to complete my afternoon rounds and complete yet another successful day on Bliss 8.

Having worked on Bliss 8 for five years as a surgical nurse and a Clinical Leader, I have learned a great deal and certainly enjoy the autonomy Hartford Hospital nurses have with physicians and midlevel practitioners.  The population which we care for promotes and creates a learning environment which is conducive for those who choose to acquire a deeper understanding for the "art of nursing".  As I complete my nurse practitioners degree in the spring, I will take with me the confidence, experience and networking which Hartford Hospital has nurtured in me. 

I thank Hartford Hospital for having had the opportunity to experience and explore so many different aspects of nursing.  From staff nursing... to leadership... to shared governance... to Nurse Practitioner... to ... who knows where this journey will lead me.  I do know for certain that I will always be grateful for the opportunity which Hartford Hospital has given me by allowing me to climb to higher heights.