I have another post about my job as a chemo infusion nurse for you! This one is a little less serious, as I wanted to give some detail about what my job actually involves. This might seem way too detailed, but I assure you I am summarizing vast amounts of activity here and only hitting the high points! It’s a busy place. The following took place on a Monday, and it actually was one of my less busy days.
One of our infusion suites.
8 // I look up my other patients for the day. I see that a favorite and loved one is in the hospital for failure to thrive, so now I am sad. I prepare for the other patients and begin charting.
9 // Patient #2 arrives, to get 5FU + leucovorin. I start his IV and draw labs. Chart.
9:45 // Once I get lab results for both patients and orders for P#1 I order both of their meds (this can’t be done ahead of time and there is usually about an hour wait to get the meds from the pharmacy). Patient #3 arrives, to receive Oxaliplatin. I access her port and draw labs. Chart.
10:15 // Get lab results and order meds for P#3.
10:20 // Patient #4 arrives, getting Alimta. Start IV and draw labs. Chart (I try to keep up with my charting during the day so I don’t have to do it all at the end).
10:35 // Get lab results and order meds for P#4.
10:45 // Start fluid and premed P#1. I usually run fluid on all of my patients, and premeds are given before chemo to prevent nausea and other side effects.
10:50 // Start fluid and premeds for P#2.
11:00 // Start fluid for P#3, page the doctor with questions.
11:10 // Start fluid for P#4.
11:15 // Start the infusion for P#2. Talk to a couple of doctors on the phone and place the new orders I get from them. Go around and check on my patients, updating them. Make more phone calls coordinating care, and do more charting.
11:55 // Start chemo on P#1.
12:20 // Change chemo drugs for P#1, premed P#3, and change chemo drugs on P#2.
12:30 // Start chemo on P#4.
12:35 // Start chemo on P#3. Everyone is now infusing and settled. Time to get lunch! We have sandwiches catered for us. I’m spoiled.
1:00 // Back from lunch. Work on discharge papers.
1:20 // Discharge P#2.
1:40 // Hook up home infusion pumps for P#1 and discharge her.
1:45 // Discharge P#4. Finish charting on all discharged patients and schedule their return appointments.
2:20 // Patient #5 arrives, to get Carboplatin. Yes we still have patients arriving! I am usually not assigned a chemo patient this late in the day, but this one had actually requested me as her nurse. I start her IV and draw labs.
2:40 // Discharge P#3. She’s done with all her treatments so we have a bell-ringing ceremony. Hooray!
3:00 // I chat with and update P#5. Do some more charting.
3:45 // Start fluid and premeds on P#5.
4:00 // It’s time for me to leave but my one remaining patient isn’t done yet. Our clinic is open until 6 p.m. so I give report to one of the late nurses.
4:15 // Finish chatting with the patient and head home!
I love my job because it’s a combination of technical medical stuff that challenges me intellectually and interactions with people that I get to care for and form relationships with. Although every day is somewhat similar, I never know what treatments I’m going to be giving or what issues I’ll encounter, and new drugs keep coming on the market so it’s never boring. I’m so glad I decided to specialize in oncology and infusion specifically because now I feel very confident at what I do!
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