just another manic monday

September 21, 2009

By now you should probably know that I’m a nurse, right? I mean it says so right there in my header. And you may or may not know that I’m an oncology nurse, which means I take care of cancer patients. There are some types of chemotherapy that can only be given in the hospital, and that’s a big part of what we do. We also have a lot of people come in because of dangerously low blood counts, or complications thereof (i.e. infection) because that is a major side effect of chemotherapy. I give a lot of transfusions.

Almost everyone hates Mondays, and I’m no different. I really hate Mondays at work. Since a lot of our patients are just coming in to get chemo, they come in during the week and then they’re out by the weekend. That means when Monday rolls around, we get slammed with admissions and orders. And the bad thing is that our staffing is determined by the number of patients that we actually have on the floor during the previous shift, not by how many patients we’re expecting.

All that to say that Mondays are crazy.

Every day when I first get to work, I write out a report sheet on the patients I’m assigned to that day. We lovingly refer to this as our “brain”. This is mine from today, right after I wrote it at around 6:45 a.m.:

nurse's brain
Names intentionally removed. Anyone heard of HIPAA?

And this is the same piece of paper at the end of the day:

nurse's brain

One patient is crossed out and another one added because about an hour into the shift a patient decided that he didn’t like the nurse he had, so I traded with her. And of course right when I was getting things under control I got an admission. I had run out of room on my paper so I added another column myself on the back:


Some things I did today:

  • Platelet transfusion
  • Blood transfusion
  • Assist with bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (a procedure that still gives me the shivers because of the way you can hear the giant needle grinding into the bone)
  • Draw blood
  • Admit a patient
  • Normal assessments and medications, oral and IV
  • Waitress (or at least I felt like it)

In the scheme of things, this Monday wasn’t all that bad. One of my mentor’s expressions is, “I can deal with anything for 8 hours.” I knew I only had an 8-hour shift to work today, and then I’d be home free with a day off tomorrow.

Of course, then I go back for 12 hours on Wednesday. I wonder if the saying still applies?

Posted in: personal

Comments on just another manic monday

  1. 1

    From DeMo:

    My Monday’s got nothin’ on yours! Yikes. I like that saying that you can get through anything for 8 hours. It’s just the last 4 hours of the 12-hour shift that will be the challenge. I like that you posted your chart. It’s something I never knew was involved with nursing (which qualifies it as today’s Daily DeMo. :) . I always like seeing the behind the scenes of where people work.

  2. 2

    From Megan:

    Oh, Kat. “The giant needle grinding into the bone”?! I think my lunch is now on its way back up. Thank God there are people like you on this planet. If it was up to me, we’d all die premature deaths just so that I would never have to utter that statement or hear that sound.

  3. 3

    From Des:

    Wow, you have a difficult but very important job. Cancer has really ravaged my family but it was nurses like you who helped them stay with my family for as long as possible. Thanks for sharing this post and for the work that you do.

  4. 4

    From Kristy:


    Can I get a copy of that nursing worksheet above. I really like the format you have and wondering if you have it saved somewhere. If you do please email it to kristinetdb@hotmail.com thanks

  5. 5

    From kapachino:


    Unfortunately I don’t! My job provides those sheets for us and so I don’t have the form on my computer or at home. You should be able to create one using Word by looking at this picture though. Good luck!

  6. 6

    From Jess:

    I am a new RN doing some “brain” research. I really like your design. I wonder how you track med admin . . . I don’t see it on your brain. I’d be happy to hear from you. Thanks! Jess C.

  7. 7

    From Jess:

    Oh yes please email me directly at jessica dot crary at gmail dot com. Thanks!

  8. 8

    From Diane:

    hi, Kat :) I just came across your blog because I, too, am trying to organize my “brain” as I am a new RN on an Oncology/Med-Surg floor. i like how simple your sheet is, but I am also curious about how you keep track of meds on a daily basis. thanks! diane

  9. 9

    From kapachino:

    Hi Diane! I don’t work on the floor anymore (I transferred to an outpatient infusion cancer center a few years ago) but I remember that I used to make a list of meds with their times on the back of the sheet for each patient. So, for example, I could glance at the “9:00 a.m.” list and know what was due at that time, and just cross it off as I went. Of course there is always the computer too, and I had to double check against it, but sometimes it’s nice to have everything in your pocket!

    Oh, and yay for new RN’s, especially in oncology! Good luck!

  10. 10

    From Sara F:


    I was wondering if you could send me a PDF of your brain that you use for work. I too am a RN and would love to try this type, as I just moved to a high-turn over observation unit.

    My email is sara.fassbinder@gmail.com


  11. 11

    From Rosalyn Eichelberg:

    I’d love a copy of that brain sheet. It’ll work perfectly for me!!! Justownit24@gmail.com

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