Saturday, February 7, 2015

Work It

I have eluded to this in the past couple posts, but I haven't really officially updated you all about this. I started a new job about a month ago.. my first day was January 5th.

When Mike and I were still in Minnesota, I had planned to go back to work in December of 2013, taking 12 weeks of maternity leave after Ella was born. But when we moved here, I decided I would take a couple extra months, then go back after the first of the year. But a couple extra months quickly turned into a year. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to stay home full-time with Ella for so long, but it was really time for me to get back to work. For so many reasons. Ella was at an age where she wanted to be playing with other children. I felt the need to use my brain and have adult interaction, more than a quick chat in the park. And even though we were doing a good job cutting unnecessary costs, I was looking forward to have a little extra income.. you know, for delicious sugary coffee and new shoes :)

I began the job search probably four times in the last year, and I had to finally bite the bullet and apply. But I soon realized that it was going to more difficult to find a job than it had ever been. Seriously - I had more trouble getting hired now than I did right out of college! That's unheard of in nursing. Out of college, I applied for two jobs. Just now, I applied for eight. EIGHT! I think between wanting part-time hours with minimal weekends and holidays, and having not worked in the last 16 months, I had a very hard time. Finally, I was given an interview and then offered a position - which I took. I didn't know if anything else would come along, so I had to jump on it.

The position I accepted is a Registered Nurse at a company called HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. It's a nationwide company that has 107 rehab hospitals across the country - though I had never heard of them before. It's an acute inpatient rehab hospital.. which means that we get a variety of patients that are needing intensive therapy before they can return to their regular living situation. Patients who have had knee and hip replacements, strokes, brain injuries, bad accidents.. things like that. People who aren't needing a regular hospital anymore because they are mostly stable, but they need the therapy to get moving again. All of our patients have three hours of physical and occupational therapy a day, so it's a pretty intense rehab. Most of the patients are older, but we do get some younger patients who have had car or work accidents.

The work is pretty similar to what I have done in the past. Giving meds, helping patients get dressed, go to the bathroom, and eat their meals. Nursing is glorious, isn't it?! There are a few things that are different because it's rehab.. mostly just how you go about caring for these patients. In a hospital, you do most things for the patients because they're so weak or sick. In rehab, you want them to do as much for themselves as they can. Anything from opening their Cheerios, to putting on their shirt, to combing their hair. All those little things that you don't really think about, that they need to be able to do at home. We have to make sure they're able to do those things for themselves.

It's also different in some funny ways. The facility itself was built in the 1980's, and I don't think anything has been updated since then. This maybe doesn't mean much sense unless you're used to the ins-and-outs of a hospital, but... Oxygen isn't pumped into every room. No rooms have wall suction. The hoyer lift uses a crank lever. Almost all the rooms are double occupancy. The respiratory therapist isn't on staff overnight, on many weekends, and on holidays.. so I now do respiratory treatments and EKGs when necessary. I refill portable oxygen tanks outside from the liquid oxygen reservoir. We don't do ACLS. If there is an emergency, we call 911. Oh, and we do paper charting. All these things are totally safe for the patients and completely legal and ethical, but it's just funny to see the differences in how hospitals run and operate.

For the first few weeks, I was working full-time. Now I'm doing three days a week until I really get used to how things operate. Once I get used to things and in my regular routine, I'll be doing one to two days a week. My minimum requirement is four weekday and four weekend shifts in a six-week period. I can sign up for as many shifts as I want, but I am the first to get cut if staffing needs drop. I think it's really going to be a good fit for our family's needs. I didn't want to get wrangled into too many weekends because Mike works so many during hockey & football season, and I didn't want many holidays because that's when we're able to travel to see family. And we found a fantastic daycare provider that is flexible and able to cover the hours we need. All the while, I still get to spend most days with my Ella!

It took some time, but I think we've maybe found a good fit for us for now. Now, I'm off to bed. Up early for work tomorrow!

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