Black urine

Me: I’ve never seen black urine before.

Nurse: You should put on some gloves to carry that to the lab.  Actually, you should probably keep a spare pair of gloves in your pocket at all times too.

Me:  Ok, thanks for the tip.

After 4 months of trying to volunteer, today was day one of volunteering at the hospital. My first 3 hour shift was a safety ambassador.  I went to the skilled nurses unit and the telemetry unit to scout patients who are deemed high risk for falls.  These are mostly elderly patients, sometimes they are confused.  With my checklist, I go to each room on the spreadsheet to make sure the bed rails are up, bed locks are on, call device is located on the bed, and a series of other items.  If there are glaring problems, I seek the charge nurse and tell her the issues to remedy.

Second, 3 hour shift, I am in the ER, where I mostly clean or stand around waiting to be the gopher who brings lab work upstairs.  The charge nurse says to wipe down all EKG, monitors and cords each time a patient leaves.  She says to make sure I wear gloves when using the wipes.  The hospital version of cleaning wipes should not be exposed to your skin.  I wonder if it can eat through my latex gloves too. There are lots of volunteers each day in the ER, so I was surprised to find blood on the cords of two machines.

After cleaning, I restock each room with linens. I clean the gurneys after each patient leaves, which is also what a nurse does.  I had no idea that gurneys had there own shaped linens.  There is definitely a head section and a bottom section for the feet.  In the ER, I went through probably 20 pairs of gloves in my 3 hour shift.

I saw a woman wheeled in attached to a breathing device by the EMT’s/parademics (large men, felt very boys club, with a single woman in training).  A homeless woman laying in the hallway, with no apparent aliment but no were to go.  A mother who looked no more than 16 years old with her infant.  And, the person in room 6, who peed black urine.  In Physio class, we are learning about the kidneys this week and black urine is definitely all sorts of bad.

All the nurses in the ER were kind and helpful.  They were nice to me, answering my questions when it was slow.  The nurses on the other floors, when I spoke to them, they would say things, like that is not my patient and overall seemed very chatty.  The ER doctor was not nice.  He only barked orders at the nurses and kept complaining about the incompetence of many other units.  It also didn’t help that he is a giant, probably at least 6’2″.  He physically takes up a lot of space, compared to all the female nurses around him.  There was a medical scribe who followed him around and types things for him.  It’s as if he has no time to be nice, polite or cordial.  There was a transport person.  It never occurred to me there was a job, that transports gurneys and pushes people from unit to unit.

Observing the nurses today, confirmed I don’t want to be a nurse but would rather be a doctor.  The nurses often only take blood, urine, they do manage patient care directly, however they do not appear to do things independently.  They only do what the doctor says and they need to consult him on so many things.  I hope by being a nurse practitioner I can be almost a doctor, making my own decisions in managing patients.  As expected though, I do like the ER.  I think I might even like pediatrics too.


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