BuzzFeed Germany spoke with Annika, a nurse and YouTube personality, about her job working in a hospital. Below are excerpts from our interview about the best and worst parts of an average day, the stereotypes she has to deal with, and her wish to simply hear more "thank yous" for her work.
1. Nurses are not here just to wipe asses.
This cliché annoys us all! After all, nurses are not by profession the ass-wipers of the nation. Nor do we have to deal exclusively with the excretions of other people. And even dumb statements like, "I couldn't do that, wiping other people's asses every day. How do you manage to do it?" – I can't listen to any more. That part might take up 10% of our work. The other 90%, fortunately, involves so much more.
2. Nurses are not maids.
Once an elderly gentleman summoned me from across the hall by calling me "girl." I went to him and asked how I could help, but I also told him that I found the term "girl" inappropriate. After all, I was not his maid, and would like to be treated respectfully. He told me, "Oh, little mouse, you're just a nurse. If not for me, you would be unemployed. I wanted to ask if I can have another coffee. With sugar, please." He grinned, handed me his empty coffee cup and went back in his room. I put the coffee cup on his bedside table and told him he knew where the coffee was.
3. A normal night shift lasts 10 hours for me and starts at 8:15 pm ...
First, I get a handoff from my colleagues on the late shift, which covers what happened during the day, who all is there, what are the diagnoses, whether there patients on the ward who just had surgery, and so on. Then I make my first round and check each patient's room to make sure everything is all right.
4. ... and just so it's clear: the night shift is no piece of cake.
Want to know what it means to check EVERY patient's room? Okay. I help patients move. For some, I take their blood pressure, pulse or temperature. I have to take care of bedridden patients who can't get up. I help other patients go to the toilet or hang up IV drips. I do all that for 30 patients. Me. All alone. One person – responsible for 30 sick people! But there's still more. Because then, I prepare the pills for all the patients for the next day. This can sometimes take two to three hours. In between, I check in on patients who ring for me, perhaps because they have pain or need to go to the toilet. Then there are the emergency room patients, who are a big part of the night shift. They also take a lot of time. Then I clean up the ward and place pharmacy orders. Then there's "some" paperwork — meaning, I have to document every single activity I perform on a patient. Every single medication that I give has to be entered. Every bandage checked, every blood pressure taken. That is really arduous. Then I eat something and by 5:45 am, my colleagues from the early shift begin to trundle in. At 6 o'clock, I give them a handoff from the night shift, and only then can I go home.
5. Nurses often have to go at it alone.
Our job can be really tough and that's exactly why we need more staff. Once again: WE. NEED. MORE. STAFF. In other words: fewer patients per nurse and a clearer division of responsibility for us nurses — that would be such a relief. Otherwise, we often spend so much time sitting in front of computers or on paperwork that we barely have any time for our patients.
5. Whether you believe it or not, nurses do not have superpowers – unfortunately.
I have already seen too much and know too much about our bodies and their diseases. Sometimes I wish I didn't have this profession, or at least had a superpower that can cure horrible diseases like cancer or strokes with a snap of the fingers.
7. Nurses have nightmares.
Every so often, I can't sleep at night because my job gets me very upset. There's one incident that keeps haunting me: a patient who was supposed to have a knee operation. She was already quite old. If she didn't have this surgery, her knee would have stiffened, and she would not have been able to walk so well. For days, however, the patient resisted an operation and then finally let her relatives talk her into it. But during the operation, the woman died all of a sudden. Even today, I can't let go of it. Since then, a person's own voice has become so much more important to me.
8. In this job, you have to prepare for the unexpected.
We see everything. One of our patients got visited every day by his wife and children. One day, however, a woman came in whom I had never seen with him before. When I went to his room, the two of them jumped apart quickly. I didn't think anything of it. But when the two disappeared into the bathroom, and we heard some pretty unmistakable sounds, it was clear to me what was going on between them. But it was over so quickly, so we didn't have to intervene. Both of them left the bathroom separately, and on the same day, the patient was released. So, we saw him cheat on his spouse.
9. This job is anything but boring.
I hereby solemnly confess that the occupation of nurse — who, by the way, are now called "healthcare professionals" in Germany — was not my first choice. But it wasn't a mistake. Because, luckily, I don't have a boring job. Every day is different here. Something new is always happening, and I'm always getting to know new people and helping them tackle new challenges every day. In addition, there's just an indescribable feeling of success I feel when patients come to me sick and then (usually) can go home healthy again.
10. Last but not least: luckily, there are also patients who appreciate you a lot.
One patient, who was with us frequently, came to the ward once and just hugged me. He told me how happy he was that he came to us and not to another hospital. He felt so comfortable with us. He asked me every morning how I was and told me that I was doing a great job.
This post was translated from German.