A Day in the Life of Registered Nurse Eloise Forster


Tuesday, 19 October, 2021


A Day in the Life of Registered Nurse Eloise Forster

Registered Nurse Eloise Forster shares her day at the Sandringham Hospital Emergency Room.

05:30: I’m woken by my trusty Google Mini for a shower, breakfast and alone time with my coffee before my household wakes up. This is an important ritual for me as I set some personal intentions for my day ahead and it prepares me for the day. You never know what the day will bring in Emergency.

06:30: I leave for work. I have my scrubs, sneakers and ‘Nursing Bag’ by the door ready to leave.

06:40: Arriving at work, I change into scrubs, peruse the board to see where my allocation will be for the day and head to the tearoom. Our tearoom is full of laughs, warm greetings and loud conversations. We are a tight-knit team who pride ourselves on being friendly, open and welcoming. We love it when we have new ‘gradlings’ (graduates) starting!

It’s important we provide a culture that nourishes growth and learning as no-one learns in an environment that is hostile and unfriendly. We are a teaching hospital, and welcome new faces enthusiastically.

07:00: Handover begins. We discuss the latest updates and achievements in relation to the department. We touch on difficult situations that may have occurred on shift and then it’s open forum for questions before we head to our allocations.

07:10: Patient handover begins and, once completed, we do our safety checks in cubicles and replace any equipment that may have been used overnight. This is imperative as you don’t want to be caught in a resus situation without functioning suction, O2 or any other life-saving devices.

Drug Count is done and, once completed with no discrepancies, night staff can go home to sleep.

07:30: Night staff leave, and the day begins. I start by looking over patients’ notes and then look over the cubicle and do a discreet visual assessment. Are any patients pale, diaphoretic or do they have a dusky look? Sometimes people are trying to be well so they can go home and at times the best place for them is in hospital. No-one is pulling the wool over my eyes!

I go into each cubicle and introduce myself. People are either happy to see me or they are hangry (hungry/angry) due to fasting for a procedure or scan. It can go either way, so I brace myself for both and duck for cover (joke).

I then perform my own set of observations, check patients’ pain scores and med charts, then make them as comfortable as possible.

08:30–08:45: It’s time for a break for a much-needed coffee and a nibble. We are big on breaks and all staff must take their breaks, so we don’t risk nurse burnout.

08:45–12:30: There are no two days the same. Multiple patients have come and gone from cubicles. Some patients are in isolation for (S)COVID (suspected COVID) or gastro. Already I have collared two patients involved in MVAs [motor vehicle accidents]; performed multiple ECGs, IV cannulas and bloods; and administered general medication, pain relief and IV antibiotics.

Then onto three wound dressings, COVID swabs requiring me to gown up and gown down at least six times, toileted three patients, did multiple bed cleans and handed over patients to other departments, Ambulance Victoria and National Patient Transport.

Several discharges have occurred, which means the removal of IV cannulas, performing discharge observations and most importantly, educating patients on current symptoms or injuries and how to recognise the signs of deterioration that may need further investigation back in ED.

All throughout this time I communicate constantly with the resource nurse and make written notes about each patient. If it’s not documented, it didn’t get done.

12:30: Lunch. Everything is fast — we eat fast, we talk fast and then have a quick cuppa. No wonder I get indigestion! We use this time to catch up, laugh and decompress. It’s not all fun and games, sometimes we’re teary, overwhelmed and need to debrief. We are an affectionate lot so when someone needs a hug, it’s very hard when we must refrain due to COVID, so we find a way to support from afar. This is a big adjustment for us all. The beauty is we laugh and cry as a team, so therefore we consider each other ‘work family’.

13:00: The afternoon staff arrive and attend handover. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief for the extra set of hands required. We are in double staff time now.

13:10: Patients are handed over to the afternoon staff. I attend education activities and my team member has their lunch break.

13:40: I return to the floor and alleviate the afternoon staff for their first break. During this time I continue to care for my patients and assist my team members until the morning shift is over.

15:30: I get changed into casual wear, keeping my scrubs and shoes in a separate bag. I then jump in my car and head to the ocean for my cold-water immersion, rain, hail or shine.

Then, it’s time to attend to my family! Phew!

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