day in the life of an infusion nurse

December 16, 2013

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.

infusion suite

One of our infusion suites.

7:30 // I arrive and Patient #1 is there, to get the chemo regimen ABVD. I access her port and draw labs. We were not sent new orders from the doctor’s office, so I start making calls to get those.

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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Posted in: documenting, day in the life, documenting, personal

Comments on day in the life of an infusion nurse

  1. 1

    From Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout:

    Sounds like a busy day, not much time to get bored! I wish my job gave me more opportunity to have positive interactions with people (other than my co-workers, who are awesome). Unfortunately as an attorney, most of the people I deal with aren’t very happy to be talking to me!

  2. 2

    From kapachino:

    Well, most of my patients aren’t too happy to be here either (having cancer, getting chemo and all) but I like to see it as a challenge to make a difficult situation a lot better than they expect. I know there are differences, but maybe it could be similar for your job!

  3. 3

    From Nora:

    Given all that my family is going through I find a lot of this fascinating now (as in the, what should we expect/learn/be aware of). Thanks for sharing the insight into your day!

    I had no idea that a private infusion suite existed; good to know (though I’m guessing that’s not the norm?)

  4. 4

    From kapachino:

    I hope you never have to find out what going through this is like, but if you do then I hope it’s a great experience!

    I’m really not sure if private suites are the norm or not. Most local clinics just have one big room for infusions, I think, but I don’t know about other hospitals. We have a couple communal rooms for overflow but mostly it’s private!

  5. 5

    From Molly:

    My infusions aren’t for chemo but I still am there about 20-25 hours total each week. I am sure you already know this but your presence makes such a difference to your patients. There are nurses I truly look forward to seeing, ones that make me feel like a friend and not just “their job.” I will value the women who care for me right now for the rest of my life. There are patients of yours who are so very grateful for you too, you specifically, and not just what you do. I just hope you know that. Your work is so important, more than you even know.

  6. 6

    From kapachino:

    Thank you so much for such a sweet comment! It’s easy to feel run down and there are times when the difficult patients get to me, but I try to remember all the awesome ones that keep me encouraged. Hope you’re doing well, Molly!

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