Tonight I cared for a typical patient on our unit. My patient had a coronary artery bypass graft and was very stable post-operatively. Every patient is different post-operatively; some patients are very aware of what to expect while most are not aware at all. Most patients have no clue of the severity of their surgery or what comes afterwards. I realized that one of the most important things that I can do for my patients is to tell them what they are going to face during their recovery. Some of the most common issues are pain around the incision, learning how to regain physical strength, and preventing respiratory and incisional infections. I am constantly teaching patients how to effectively cough and deep breathe to prevent pneumonia and how to use certain techniques when ambulating to decrease the pain.
Teaching patients and their families how to effectively take care for themselves at home is also essential. In school I remember learning that discharge planning started when the patient first gets admitted. I never understood that saying until I started working and started to see how important it is to start teaching patients as soon as they are able to learn. The best thing that I can do for my patients is to teach them how to help themselves; because at the end of the day they are only in the hospital for a few short days. My favorite part about my job is seeing the transformation that all of my patients go through. From the second they get to the ICU and the day they leave the hospital to go home most leave feeling rejuvenated and more in charge of their health.
As I look back on my first six months of working as a nurse I can see a correlation between my patients and myself. I have seen so much growth in me as a person and a nurse. I know that this growth is just the beginning because I still have so much more to learn. That is something that I look forward to the most!