The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives
Holder of both a PhD in English and a RN, Theresa Brown takes us through a twelve hour day on the oncology ward where she cares for four patients. The patients’ medical conditions are reviewed, their personalities outlined, their treatments described and the various hospital affiliated personnel are detailed. Elaborative comments embellish the quirks of patients along with coworkers, doctors, fellows, residents, interns, and orderlies. She carefully explains the perceived ranking among the hospital staff.
The author occasionally takes poetic license to portray the sadness innate to the illness being treated. Too many dysfunctional procedures demanded in medical care are acerbically mentioned. While acting as a nurse and counselor to her patients, she is constantly applying plastic gloves, tearing open sterile packaging, connecting IV tubes, and interacting with the medical personnel.
From this chronicle, most of her nursing time is spent on the phone, at the computer filling in medical records, or completing paper-work. One gets the impression that this latter aspect receives more attention than the patients themselves. This twelve hour shift is presented as an extremely draining experience, and this tedious recording of a day in the life of a nurse may dissuade some from pursuing this profession.