Friday, July 29, 2011

The workplace without tears

It's the end of my first week of my new job, and my days have achieved a pleasing rhythm.  I arrive at 08:00-- I  had to arrive at my nursing job at 06:45, to give myself time to review my patients for the day and get organized.  It makes me feel like a human again to be a part of the normal morning rush hour.  The later start means I have a wealth of bus options that will get me there by eight and I can sleep in and have plenty of time to potter around at home before leaving for work.

I arrive without fanfare, and simply go to my office and start working.  I don't really have an "office"--I'm not that important--but instead of a cubicle, I'm sharing an office with two other people---the three of us are the "Beacon" team.

I work for a major university medical center/teaching hospital, but as recently as February 2011, we were still hand writing much of our documentation in paper charts.  Then came EPIC, our electronic medical record system, with which we "went live" in March.  Naturally, when you implement a new system as vast and complicated as this one, there is need for much tweaking, as well as "building" components that staff need and I am one of the "builders," specifically for "Beacon" which is the subset of Epic used by the Cancer Center. I am not able to accomplish much right now because I'm not trained, but I will be taking two trips to the Epic headquarters near Madison, Wisconsin, for training.

But back to my day:  I can now take a proper lunch, even pop down to the UVA "Corner" for coffee or meals.  Yesterday I spent my lunch break in my new favorite cafe--the Corner Cup--reading my novel.  At my old job, "lunch" meant a quick 10-15 minutes, guiltily eating as fast as possible before your next post-op showed up.  There was rarely time to go all the way to the cafeteria, and it was never possible to leave the hospital grounds.  Sometimes there was barely time to get to a toilet.  I take a non-fat latte back to the office and work until 4:30.  I suppose I sound frivolous, but these small comforts are important.

I'm always free in the evenings now, I never need to turn down or be late to dinner parties because of working a twelve hour shift, and I get home from my new job feeling energetic--even after walking home two miles with temps in the high nineties.  I feel better able to be a proper mother to my children, because formerly, I was too exhausted--physically, mentally, and emotionally--to do much for them. I no longer dread going to work.  Sometimes I dreaded my old job so much, I would ask my kids to pray for me, to prevent something awful from happening during my upcoming shift.  If I had to choose one word to describe how I've been feeling over the past week, it would be "convalescent."


  1. Very glad to hear the new job is going well and you are feeling human and intact again; both at work and at home. It is a real shame 'floor' nursing in general, and nurses individually, is/are not better supported so that nurses can do their jobs well and safely while feeling (and being treated as a) human (ie, getting a real lunch and toilet break and not feeling rather overwhelmed 90% of the time). Back to you - isn't lovely to have your evenings back? I hope this epic beacon continues well.

  2. Everything about your new job sounds so much better. Congratulations again on the change.

    If you ever want to meet someone for lunch on the Corner, I'd love to see you. That said, I also know how important that down time is in the middle of the day, so I don't want to intrude if you'd rather eat alone.

  3. This sounds almost like a vacation after the nursing job. I agree with April about the way nurses are treated. This is why we don't have enough nurses.

  4. Very happy for you to resume a sense of normalcy in your work & home lives! It's nice to appreciate the little things, like lunch breaks and lattes and normal working hours.
    I will admit I am completely naive as to the plight of nurses... but why does it have to be that way?? Why can't the job be more structured so that someone fills in with your patients while you take a real break, work normal hours, etc.? I'm truly curious.


  5. I am so so happy for you. Having once upon a time left a job that broke me down daily, I can truly appreciate what a relief it is not to be completely wrung out. And I need to know about this Corner Cup!

  6. I love the Corner Cup. Been "my" coffee shop since it was Fox Park. ;) You'll likely see me in there with my 4yo when it cools off.

    Actually, I'm going today. I'm rather delinquent for my bucket o' used grounds pick-up.

    Hope you love the new job!

  7. I'm so happy -- and relieved for you.

  8. I am SO pleased that things are better for you in your new gig. How tough to be treated like crap and work so hard for such little good treatment.

  9. Glad the new job is less stressful. My sister is a floor RN/charge nurse/"Super-user"on their computer system. Last week was her birthday and she said "Oh thank God I only have to do this for 9 more years before I can retire"

    They aren't even allowed to take off more than 4 days in a row during the summer.