Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ethics or Duty?

There was an accident today. A five car fender bender in front of me as I drove home from work tonight. When I saw a young girl emerge from her car with her face, hands, and chest covered in blood, my mind flashed to the Ziploc bag filled with gloves, gauze, and other medical supplies in the back of my car and my foot hit the brakes.

There is something in some people, particularly in nurses, that makes us believe in these situations there is no other option but to help. Is it a sense of duty? I'm a nurse, its my job. Is it an ethical question? What if someone is seriously injured and I don't stop? Is it the training that is ingrained into us from the day we set foot in the classroom in nursing school? For those of us with the knowledge, skills, and training to assist in these situations, many times the question to act doesn't need to be debated, we simply do it on instinct.

After the excitement was over and I was driving home, I began to toss around a popular topic in my head. Since my back injury, one of my biggest struggles has been not being physically able to do my job but mentally wanting it more than anything. See, I became a nurse to take care of people. To bandage their wounds, give them medications, and sometimes provide treatment that could save their life. There is nothing that compares. When the doctors put strict restrictions on my activity level and pulled me away from bedside nursing, I was devastated. I asked them how I could ignore my primal instinct to nurse people. Being an IV therapy nurse, in a code situation I am one of the only people in the hospital with the ability to place a line quickly which will deliver essential medications that have the potential to bring a person back from the edge of death. Even with my restrictions written in black in white, life likes to play in the gray area. Patients, even staff members found themselves in situations around me requiring my specific set of skills. How can I walk away from that? How can my doctors ask me not to do what I know best? Even now, working out of the hospital in a separate building doing my new job, I'm still encountered with this dilemma, i.e. the bleeding woman on the side of the road today.

I held pressure on a head wound today. Gloves on, gauze in hand; I felt like a nurse again. Like I was doing what I was always meant for: helping people. It has been a while since I had that feeling.

The adrenaline rush was pretty great too.

No comments:

Post a Comment