Caroline Newberry's StoriesA Day in the Life of a Community Health Nurse
8:15AM: Walk to work. It's still dark outside and the air is freezing. The fox who lives down the street lopes by and flaunts his fur coat. When will it be spring?
8:30AM: The staff sit around the kitchen table for a morning staff meeting. The Nurse in Charge dishes out abnormal lab reports and discussions begin around who had call last night and what came through the door. The Home Support Worker mentions that one of the elders slipped on her stairs last night and hurt her back. She'll bring her to the Health Center this morning for an appointment and shovel her stairs so it doesn't happen again. The nurse who was on call reports it was a quiet night - only one child with a fever and sore throat. Thankfully the gastroenteritis which swept through the community seems to have passed. Two of the three Community Health Nurses begin to pack up supplies for a trip to the school this morning. It is flu season and time to immunize the teachers and school children.
9:00AM: Sick clinic patients begin to file in. Each nurse has appointments booked for the morning. And so it begins...pharyngitis, bilateral otitis media, flu-like illness, fractured wrist, uncontrolled hypertension, croup, vomiting, and diarrhea, and a urinary tract infection all make their way through the Health Center. Diagnoses are made, treatments given, physicians and nurse practitioners consulted, medical travel booked, and medications dispensed. The usual gamut of health concerns and issues cycle through. The phone constantly rings.
11:45AM: Looking forward to lunch and getting caught up on charting from the morning!
12:00PM: Just as I am about to exit the on call phone (my responsibility today) rings. Someone is having a seizure at the hotel. Thankfully two other nurses are still here so we all pile in to the vehicle and race over there. The man is in town for business and forgot his medication. The seizure is short lived and we load him onto the stretcher and take him back to the Health Center for observation and monitoring. An IV, some anti-seizure medication, and a physician consult over the phone as we arrive at a plan of care.
1:00PM: I quickly scarf down my lunch and check the daily schedule. It's Well Child Day and that means immunizations, head to toe assessments, weighing and measuring, checking development, nervous and happy parents (that their child is healthy) and unhappy children (that they have to get an injection). It's a noisy and busy but a satisfying afternoon. The kids make our day with their sweet smiles and silly stories. It's our goal to make sure they are still smiling when they leave.
4:15PM: Three immunized healthy children have left the building from my clinic room and my patient who had the seizure is on his way out the door with gratitude and assurances next time he travels he won't forget his meds. He also promises to bring Tim Horton's coffee and doughnuts to the staff on his next trip through. We all laugh and suggest perhaps a watermelon or two from the big city would also be a nice gesture since it's been awhile and we all know how much watermelon costs at the local store.
4:30PM: Charting, returning phone messages, and referrals, consume the end of my work day
5:00PM: It's home time. Bundle up. I wonder if the on call phone will ring tonight. I'm so looking forward to the weekend...breakfast with friends, maybe a little snowmobiling or ice fishing. I love the north.