UPS AND DOWNS

Life of a nurse: No rest, but pay is good

You’re usually the first to hold in your hands the start of life and the last to see it go

In Summary

• You have to stay on your feet, make rounds all day and stomach sad situations

• However, there are joys to the job that cannot be found in any other profession

Kenyatta National Hospital KNH
Kenyatta National Hospital KNH

Although many people can describe my work as monotonous, the truth is there is no typical day.

There are some routine things, of course, but every shift brings something new, which can be exciting or dampening.

I live in Riruta, so I wake up 5am to reach KNH by 7am, which is when my shift begins. On arrival, I will have a few minutes of solitude at the nursing station.

So my day begins by relieving the nurse who was on the night shift. The nurse will hand over the patients to me. They will tell me about new admissions and other issues they think I should be aware of.

After that, I will review notes given by the doctors, and this involves reading everything about every patient who will be under my care that day.

After this, I will do the morning round, depending on the ward I am working in. I will check the status of every patient and record their status. Often I have about 20 to 30 patients under my care.

I will always check their progress and also assist those who cannot eat, while also giving medication to those who require them.

This will go on until lunch time. There is actually a tea break at 10am, but sometimes we have a shortage of nurses on our shift and I am unable to break for coffee.

My lunch is 1pm to 2pm. In the afternoon, some patients will have been discharged, while new patients could also have been admitted. Often, I find myself managing new patients, administering any medications that need to be given during that time and catching up on charting.

If there are new patients, I will need to educate them about their diagnoses and treatment plans. Most of them have many questions, so I will answer patient questions and also ensure their families have enough information on what they need to know about the patient’s condition.

At 5pm, it’s time to go home. So before this time, I will make sure everything regarding my patients has been properly recorded and made ready for my colleagues coming to work in the evening shift.

TEDIOUS BUT WORTH IT

Thew work is tiring and you spend most of your time standing. However, I love my job and there are many precious things I would never give up regarding the work.

Depending on the ward you’re working in, you’re usually the first to hold in your hands the start of life.

Then you also get to learn so many medical terms, classification, contraindications, dosage, allergies and the like.

You are a jack of all trades and you need to be able to determine the significance of lab results and decide whether to bring in a doctor in the middle of the night.

Many doctors look down on nurses and cannot trust us. So you have to be patient and suppress your emotions just so you can still give care to their patients. Even when there are instances that can actually ruin your day.

My work revolves around seeing people in a helpless situation, and this breaks my heart a lot. Many times people think nurses have become hardened and that they don’t care but trust me, we do care.

The bad part of nursing is that when the rest of Kenyans are enjoying Madaraka Days or such holidays, you’re probably at work.

But this is not the saddest thing. I am always grateful that I welcome new life into the world, but absolutely sad to see life pass through my hands. It breaks my heart every time I get to see my patients take their last breath.

One of the annoying parts of my job is handwashing. At end of the shift, I have washed my hands so many times that my hands are always dry, no matter what I do.

In this age of corona also, we wear masks throughout. They make me feel suffocated.

Also, there is much work and you’re always on your feet. Picture this, I am 54kg and I am 45 years of age. Yet I need several times to turn, clean, push the patients to theatre, transfer to chair from bed.

But I would say I love my job and it pays well. I completed my two-year certificate in nursing at Nairobi’s KMTC in 2000. In the beginning our salary was not good, but now I earn about Sh90,000. I do not know any other profession where I would earn the same with a certificate.