This is where I work... the Saperstein Critical Care Tower (SCCT) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It is an 8-story ICU tower that is attached to the rest of the medical center bringing the total number of hospital beds to 952!! I looked up, saw a beautiful Japanese Maple tree and the enormous SCCT building and I had a sense of nostalgia as I thought about leaving this place. This was my first job as a registered nurse. I remember having my interview in April of 2007, three months before I graduated, and I was so nervous and excited about the prospect of working at such a prestigious medical center on such a challenging floor. A few days later I received a phone call from the nurse manager and she told me I was hired and that I was the newest member of the 8-SCCT Neuro-Trauma-Surgical ICU team! After 3 months of intensive ICU training and preceptorship from senior nurses I was on my own, caring for patients all by myself. Being in charge of someones life and well-being is stressful to say the least. We have a range of patients and they vary in sickness... some are only here overnight for observation and some are here for weeks at a time with oftentimes very grave prognoses.
In nursing school I remember my professors telling me that the first two years of practice as a nurse are the hardest. You doubt yourself, your abilities, your skills, your knowledege.... you doubt everything. I remember leaving the hospital after an especially grueling day and breaking down into tears as I drove home. I would dream about work and about my patients and their familes. I remember one patient who was criticially ill... she had been in a car accident and had suffered severe head trauma. I had to take her to get a CAT scan and she was very unstable. I was with only the respiratory therapist and the nurse assistant when I realized that at that very moment that I was responsible for that patient's life. When you are physically in the ICU you have a wealth of knowledge and support to lean on. When travelling to a procedure or a scan, you are alone and you are the 'leader' if something goes wrong with your patient. We take all the precautionary measures with us when we leave the ICU with a patient, such as medications and oxygen tanks and support staff, but if something goes wrong, I have to make the decision about what to do until help arrives in the form of the 'Code Blue' team. And as I loaded my very unstable patient onto the CT table I realized all of this and I was immediately terrified. I thought to myself, "I can't do this job. This is too much." The scan finished and we took my patient back to the ICU and fortunately nothing bad happend on that trip but it made me realize the responsibility that I have taken on by being an ICU nurse.
As the months and years have gone by and my nursing practice has advanced, I am amazed at how far I have come over the last two years. I am now a 'resource' for new nurses on my floor and it amazes me that the knowledge of what I do has become somewhat second-nature. Leaving Cedars-Sinai and my 'family' on the 8th floor ICU is bittersweet. These are the people who have helped shape my nursing practice into what it is today. Their patience, guidance, and love for what they do has helped me become a better nurse and I will be forever grateful for all that they have done.
Soon I will leave Cedars-Sinai for the last time as an employee but I will always remember the organization and the people that helped set the foundation for my nursing practice. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Words cannot express my gratitude for all that you have taught me.