Friday, February 17, 2017

Sara's Theory of Poop and Mucous

I always encourage people to consider nursing as a career.  I think there are so many reasons, not the least of which is having a way to support yourself and family.  

In addition to the great job opportunities, when people ask me why I urge people to look at nursing as a career choice, I also talk about the fact that in nursing, there’s something for everyone.  It would be impossible to list all of the practice opportunities for nurses.  

They range from nursing on a cruise ship, to nursing in a cardiovascular surgical ICU, to school nursing, to working for a nursing publication…and everywhere in between.  

A comment I always get is “but I don’t like blood or needles.”

To this I almost always say, “me neither!”  Plus, I really, really, really don’t like poop and I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years.  

Fortunately, except for maybe during nursing school, you can do pretty well as a nurse staying away from the stuff that really grosses you out.  There’s almost always somebody working with you who isn’t grossed out by the same stuff.

Which leads me to my very own theory of nursing:   

Sara’s Nursing Theory of Poop and Mucous

Through a very unscientific method of observation and survey, I have found that most nurses either don’t mind mucous or don’t mind poop.   

There are those rare, crazy, nurses who don’t mind both of them, but most of us have a preference.

I’m not thrilled with the little pink-kidney-pan-barf-basin full of tissues and loogies, but suctioning trachs and ET tubes doesn’t bother me.  That hocking sound when the patient is about to spit out a loogie doesn’t both me, either.  I get a sense of satisfaction when the suction catheter is so thick and full that I have to rinse the tubing with hot water (a trick one wonderful respiratory therapist taught me). 

The first time I saw a colostomy, though, I passed out cold.  Poop just gags me.  In fact, I have to wear a mask when I clean poop and I’d prefer that the mask have a little drop of eucalyptus oil in it.  I remember a long term patient I took care of frequently in the PICU who’s mom would just come to me holding out a mask when the patient needed to be cleaned up.  In that same PICU, a Pediatric Resident became quite alarmed when he saw me repeatedly gagging while cleaning up poop on a little girl, despite wearing a mask. 

So what’s the point here?  

Basically, the point of my Nursing Theory of Poop and Mucous is that scheduling and staffing should take in to consideration the number of poop nurses and the number of mucous nurses who are working together at a given time.  

Nurses are more likely to stay in the profession if they are working where they feel supported and are part of a strong team (Zeller, Doutrich, Guido, & Hoeksel, 2011).  A strong team comes from playing to the strengths and weaknesses of the team members.

Meaning, I’m happy to suction for you if you’ll clean poop for me…and then we are all happy and stay in nursing!

Zeller, E., Doutrich, D., Guido, G., & Hoeksel, R. (2011). A culture of mutual support: Discovering why new nurses stay in nursing. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 42(9), 409-14. doi:10.3928/00220124-20110615-02

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