Nurses are the saints of medicine. Annie and Allie are registered nurses. They help heal people and love what they do every day. They met each other when they were both in the midst of taking the NCLEX. Both of them are into the science and medical field, and although the nursing profession wasn’t really on top of their lists, they ended up being nurses because they saw the care and how wonderfully the nurses were treating their loved ones. Annie and Allie talk about their experiences in nursing school as well as being out in the world caring for people with different medical issues. They also shared some time management skills and how they do the work-life balance to always keep themselves on their toes.
We have Annie Lynch and Allie Ferrara. Annie and Allie are registered nurses. They love what they do, and they help people heal every day. In my mind, nurses are the saints of medicine and it was great to hear their journey and all the people they have been able to help along the way.
Listen To The Episode Here: Nurses: The Saints Of Medicine with Annie Lynch and Allyson Ferrara
Nurses: The Saints Of Medicine with Annie Lynch and Allyson Ferrara
Welcome, Annie and Allie. Annie, where are you from?
I am from Howell, good old Ramtown.
They call that God’s country. Don’t they?
What were you into growing up?
I played a lot of softball, field hockey, all the girly sports. I was always a big reader. That was the gist of my childhood. I’m reading a book, Arthur and the Seventh Inning.
Allie, where are you from?
I’m originally from Bergen County up in North Jersey.
North Jersey girl. Did you love it?
I liked it. Love is a very strong word. I always vacationed here in Belmar, so I moved here after college.
Annie and my mom went to the same high school.
When did you guys find that out? Did you guys grow together?
The way Allie and I met is a funny story. Allie’s sister was dating somebody that my mom worked with. My mom and his mom were good friends and then it came into play that I was friends with her daughter and then Allie and I ended up meeting each other. The first conversation we had was about serial killers.
My mom was like, “You need to meet this girl. She went to Queen of Peace. She’s so cute. You’ll love her. She is a nurse.” I was like, “Another nurse,” because we’re definitely going to talk about nursing all the time, which is fine. Then we started talking about other things.
You guys met each other while being nurses?
I had just graduated. We were both in the midst of taking our NCLEX. This was probably three years ago. It feels like forever.
What made you both want to become nurses?
I didn’t know I wanted to do nursing. Most nursing programs, you have to apply from the get-go. You can’t transfer in sophomore year.
!(https://res.cloudinary.com/drkevinpecca/image/upload/v1608781451/images/photo-1516841273335-e39b37888115_zsylin.jpg) Saints Of Medicine: Most nursing programs, you have to apply from the get-go.
It’s tough to get in, right?
There are a lot of waiting lists because they only have a certain amount of seats, because it is clinical and stuff. I applied to all my schools for nursing because I like people, I like science, I like the shifts, so I applied to all of my schools for nursing and then I figured if I didn’t like it, I could transfer out. In the middle of it, I figured let’s go all the way and now we’re here.
You decided to pick nursing and that was it?
I like science. I definitely didn’t want to do an office, like 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Not knocking that, it works for a lot of people. It’s just not for me. I like science, I like people. I liked working three twelves a week. I like that there are so many different ways, like routes you can go.
That’s another thing I want to go, the nursing shifts, because I don’t get it. I feel like every nurse I know is walking around blacked out.
That’s pretty accurate. There’re so many things that you could do in nursing. I like that you don’t have to do bedside nursing forever. It’s pretty versatile.
Allie, you are not giving yourself enough credit. You’re very personable.
Annie, how did you get into nursing?
I am debilitatingly empathetic towards people. Same thing, I was always science-driven, I like the medical fields. When I was younger, this is my sob story, my mom was sick and her best friend had ovarian cancer and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. I saw the care, I saw how wonderfully they were treated, and I was like, “That’d be pretty cool to do as a job.” The empathy is like if somebody could hit me with their car, I’m pretty sure I’d be like, “They’re probably having a bad day. I’m fine.”
Nursing school’s tough, right? I remember we had townhouses and there was a bunch of nurses next door that were in our school and they had to work all the time, but they still went out, which I liked. They had their fun.
I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle that in college. I’m impressed.
It was tough.
Annie has a little bit more of a hard time. She went to Penn State and for me, I had no idea how she did that. I went to a small school.
How are you still alive? I went there one weekend and it took ten years off my life, a Blue & White Weekend.
I have a life expectancy of 55 probably because these were my glory days.
I went to a small Franciscan school. The nursing major was a predominant major. It was still difficult but time management and we will just go to class. I had to work during college, so I worked all day, went to class from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, so it comes down to time management. Not that there wasn’t a lot to do, but I definitely didn’t go to Penn State, so staying focused is a little bit easier.
It was definitely tough. It was tough because I saw a lot of my roommates with their majors. As hard as they were, they didn’t have clinical in the morning. We were working getting up at 6:00 AM and working nurses with also having no idea what to do.
You both were living a completely different world than everybody else, I feel like.
Exactly, time management. We’re like, “I’m going to study now. Drink a beer later,” or “I’ll study and do my work now, so I can go out.”
That’s balancing. They have clinicals and everything. Did you both pick where you wanted to go and what you wanted to do, or they’re like, “This is what you’re doing, see if you like it?”
Penn State was a big program. Being as big as it is, Penn State’s nursing program itself was small but the outreach with the hospitals was pretty big. They had good communication, so we start med‑surg, which is run of the mill, general. Anyone you’re going to see any diagnosis, then once you get later into college, you get to pick. We did a preceptorship, so I did however many weeks but that was the other thing. You had to pick your Saturdays and Sundays to go work with this preceptor where your friends were like, “Peace out, I’m going to a football game,” and you’re like, “I’m going to go work.” I did mine in a level one trauma center, which was cool.
Saints Of Medicine: When you’re in nursing school, priming tubing, hanging a bag of saline is the most exciting thing, and then it turns into your everyday and nothing’s exciting anymore.
You must have seen some shit.
I was in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
I know where that is. That’s the middle of nowhere.
I got second-hand smoke just for being there.
Mine is different. I had to do six weeks in med-surg. I had to do six weeks in maternity and labor delivery.
They throw you around?
You can ask for your recommendation. I could pick Temple. I got chosen and I went to Temple, but they could send you to any hospital that’s affiliated with them.
What are all the fields that you can get into as nurses? Is it endless? Give me five or ten.
It’s so different because there’s inpatient, outpatient, education, management, rehab. There’s al ton. Just in the hospital, you have your ICUs, which Allie and I both work in. Your intensive care, your telemetry, which is like med-surg, but with cardiac-related issues, pediatrics, NICU, ER, OR.
ER is absolutely insane.
It’s nice because it’s high-paced. I don’t want to work at ER because I would see so many people that I know. It is very high-paced, but that’s why I like the ICU. Just in the hospital setting, there’s endless. You can do school nursing, you can do rehabs, and long-term care, like your family member who lives in a nursing home, care home, hospice. You can do wound care. There’s everything.
Did you have a good first overall experience with nursing?
That’s how we work together. We wound up working on the same floor, so this was after we met. We may have gone to D’Jais once or twice together.
You knew each other but you didn’t know you were going to work together?
We had met and we were like, “We’re both nurses. This is great.” Then we showed up to work and we were like, “This is weird.” The floor we worked on was like a med-surg telemetry, so it was basic. That’s usually what you get into when you first start nursing.
I wouldn’t say basic because they throw you to the wolves. Our floor was like, “We don’t know where to put this sick person, so we’re going to send them over to you,” and you also have seven other patients. That’s pretty much everyone’s first nursing job, like, “You’re seven patients, torture for twelve hours.” I didn’t know what I’m doing.
The first needle you had to put in someone live.
Handshaking, sweaty palms.
I lied to my patient. This was in the ER. This poor woman was a mess and she was like, “They stuck me four times in the ambulance. I don’t want you to do this.” I was like, “I’ve done this a million times before. Don’t worry, I’m an expert,” and in the back of my head, I was like, “I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m not even sure where to put the tourniquet,” but by some miracle I got her, and I rejoiced. She was like “Why are you so excited?” I was like “I’ve never done that before.” She was like, “You lying SOB.” I am the perfect nurse, sharp shooter, but it’s so funny because when you’re in nursing school, priming tubing, hanging a bag of saline is the most exciting thing, and then it turns into your everyday and nothing’s exciting anymore.
We started on a floor that was pretty heavy.
It got you ready.
It was to the point where we would get report from the ER and we’d be like, “They’re supposed to be in the ICU, but we don’t have any beds, so we downgraded them.” It’d be like, “All right. This is interesting.”
How has working with the doctors for the first time? Is that interesting? Weird? I’m sure there’s a patient that you’re like, “This needs to happen” and a doctor pops his head in like, “You should do that.” Are there any times where you were like “This is what we’re doing.”
Your med school don’t mean nothing.
That was the hardest thing when I first got a job, calling a doctor for the first time and being like, “This is what I think.” I was like, “Who are you calling for?” I was like, “It’s Allyson on.” Some doctors are a little rough around the edges but most of them, for the most part, are receptive, “This is what’s going on.” There’s a good mix. Some doctors you know to just let them put their orders in, but for nursing, you know your patient and what’s going to work best for them because you’re there for twelve hours, so you making a suggestion and a physician listening to that suggestion is to their best interest, so we don’t have to call them fifteen more times, and say like, “We should have done what I told you to do in the first place.”
Saints Of Medicine: Some doctors are a little rough around the edges but most of them, for the most part, are receptive.
How long ago was this where you guys were working together? A couple of years?
It was 2014. She left to do travel nursing and I stayed and then I went to the ICU.
Annie, you did travel nursing. How did that work? Were you like, “I’m out, I’m traveling and I’m working?”
I hit my breaking point with the floor that we were on.
Did you have a nervous breakdown in the hospital?
All the time. We had a dialysis closet that was my spot to sit there and scream into a pillow, cry, call my mom. Going back to nursing school, this is my favorite story with my mom. She’s a phys ed teacher and loves her job. She works 6th, 7th, and 8th grade phys ed, so she plays skip all day. I’m not knocking phys ed teachers. I respect them very much. I called my mom during school and I was like, “This is so hard. I can’t believe I’m doing this.” She was like, “Hold on, I’m outside playing dodge ball with the kids,” and I was like, “Why did I choose to do this?”
What was so stressful? Everything?
It’s stupid things that we know now, but looking at an EKG strip in college, that was squiggles on a piece of paper and it means something. I’m not sure what it means, stuff like that. Travel nursing, it’s a dream world. You work for a company and they assign you a recruiter and the recruiter is your best friend and you say like, “This is my job experience. This is what I’d like to do. This is where I want to go.” They set it up for you.
Where did you end up? Where were all your stops on your travel nursing?
My first job was in Long Beach, California. I worked at Kaiser in Harbor City and it was nerve wracking because you think all the other nurses are going to be like, “Give it to the traveler. Give the worst assignment to the traveler because they’re only here for three months.” I had the best experience. Everyone was so kind and so helpful. I learned a lot, too, because you’re jumping into another facility and you can see different health systems, how different people do different things. When we started at Jersey Shore, you get thirteen weeks of orientation with a senior nurse and when you travel, they’re like, “Here’s half a shift” and you’re taking over your own assignment and figure it out.
Do some people do that right after school? I feel that’s not a good idea.
No, there would be a lot of casualties.
You have to break down at least ten times before you travel.
You have to meet your mental breakdown quota and then you’re good.
My recruiter was like, “How many breakdowns do you have on a daily basis?” and we can get you to traveling. You do three months or if they ask you to an extend, but I chose to go to Seattle after that. I stayed in Seattle for six months and I worked in neuro there, which was incredible. I didn’t have any neuro experience, but my manager, I interviewed with her on the phone and she was like “You start this day.”
Is there’s a way to cheat the system with that?
You can figure out how to live out for free and get paid, right?
They set it up for you. You’re essentially living tax-free. You get a stipend with your weekly paychecks. What I did in Seattle, they said, “This is the cost of living to find an apartment in Seattle. We are going to give you X amount of money. You find your apartment.” If they give you $2,000 and you find one for $400, you keep it. I chose to live in the most lavish apartment possible. The space in my backyard, I was like, “Whatever, I’m never going to live in Seattle again.” Or you can choose to live in the company’s housing and they provide you with a furnished apartment, but then you don’t get that extra stipend in your paycheck.
Either way, you’re living rent for free.
Are you working 24/7?
No, it was the same thing, three twelve-hour shifts.
How does the nursing shift work?
Some possibles are 80 hours or 72.
Three twelve-hour shifts a week and that’s it. You can work over time. We’re paid hourly. It’s more for continuity of care. If it so happened that Allie and I were working the same three days, I’m night shift, she is day shift, then our patients are going to see us for three days. We know their story, we know what works for them, what makes them comfortable, and then they get to see the same nurse unless they fire you and then you move on.
We’re 36 hours a week full time.
It’s 7:00 AM to 7:30 PM.
Then you’re required to do every other weekend and then you have to do three holidays a year out of six.
Do you sign up for night shifts? How do the night shifts and day shifts work?
I was hired for days.
You get hired for day shift or night shift.
Nobody wants to work night shift.
I’m night actually.
Saints Of Medicine: You have to meet your mental breakdown quota and then you’re good.
Do you like it?
This is my first night shift job because I was such a primadonna that I was like, “I only want to work days.” When I traveled, I only work days. To get into the job that I’m working now, I wanted this role, so I said I’ll suck it up. I’ll take nights, and now it’s a blessing. We turn the lights off, people sleep. Stuff still goes down. A lot of thing, bad things, happen at night.
Nothing good happens after 2:00 AM.
Usually shift changes. After a twelve-hour shift is me giving report to Allie saying, “This is what happened overnight.”
You still work together?
No, but 95% of codes are probably me in the midst of saying like, “This is what happened. I’m going to go home.”
You always have to document everything?
Shit always hits the fan between shifts.
When a new patient comes in, you are taking notes and everything?
It’s so much paperwork. That’s the biggest downfall of nursing.
That’s the biggest downfall of medical profession.
It takes away from your patient care, too because you’re trying to have a conversation with this cute little old man but in the back of your head, I’m like, “I’ve got to chart this.”
I had this old woman in and she was sitting in front of me and my computer’s like 45 degrees off to the right. I’m listening to her and the window is on the right, she is like, “What are you looking at?” I’m like, “Ma’am, I’m taking your notes right now. I’m not just staring at the window.”
I always start in preface. I’m like “I’m sorry, I’m not ignoring you,” but I am because I have a lot of things to do. Especially in the ICU, there’s a lot charting, a lot of vital signs.
With seconds, so much is going on and it’s easier to catch something that’s going south, quicker.
What are you doing nursing-wise?
I work at Jersey Shore. I work in the Medical ICU.
The people that come in are?
We’ll get drug overdoses. We’ll get heart attacks. We’ll get respiratory distress.
Serious stuff. Do you have anybody that is ever faking it?
Not faking it, but definitely milking. We have a frequent flyers, people that come in for the same thing once a month. It’s hard to fake being sick in the ICU because you have to have a diagnosis.
They’re taking all your vitals and stuff.
“You’re healthier than I am. What are you doing here?”
At our job at Jersey Shore, people were acting a little, some. It was a very difficult patient population that we had there, especially if you have seven different people and you don’t get to your colleague right away and they’re like, “I was waiting for you for hours” and it was like five minutes.
They are an elderly population and also are surrounded by Asbury and Neptune. Not to knock those towns, but they have some residents that are hard to care for and be coming from a good place.
That’s the hard part of nursing. It’s hard to take care of people who aren’t taking care of themselves. You see people who are coming in constantly with the same thing over and over again and we’re like, “W told you to not eat five cheeseburgers, you’re going to have another heart attack.” It’s hard to keep giving that same education over and over and over again without getting a little jaded.
It’s tough to tell people to change their diet and everything and you can tell.
We have so many programs like if you can’t afford your medication, you can follow up at our clinic. The doctors will try to give you some coupons. They bend over backwards for some of these people and they are not receptive to that.
Do they have anything homeopathic natural stuff going on?
They always say music therapy, stuff like that, but there’s nothing implemented in the hospital that’s homeopathic.
Jersey Shore or Hackensack is starting a program. The name is escaping me. I tried to apply for that and they denied me, and I was like “What the heck?”
We tried to do this two years ago.
What did you try to do?
To do a holistic certification.
It’s a certification that you can get with nursing, so you can still work in your ICU setting, but bring in essential oils or massages to help pain.
There are a lot of nurses that do that, like touch therapy, right?
It’s all pain management instead of throwing a bunch of Percocet at them, which is causing a whole other issue. I think they’re starting. It’s big on the West Coast, which you know.
It’s making it’ way. It’s not here quite yet.
It’s taking its sweet time.
Saints Of Medicine: Shit always hits the fan between shifts.
Are there people that just refuse certain treatments because it is not natural?
I haven’t run across anybody or came across anybody that’s refused something because it’s not natural. There are definitely some people who are very hell bent on their diet and multivitamins and they need to make sure that they’re accommodated in that way.
I think a majority of the people that Allie and I see don’t have a choice at this point. Not that they don’t have a choice, they always have a choice but they’re sick enough to need the medication because a homeopathic approach is preventative in a lot of ways and then it gets to the point where it’s not. If somebody were so hell bent on it, they would probably not even come into the hospital and see their see their guru.
If there was anything that you could change or keep about the protocols with nursing or patient care, would there be anything there?
A huge thing, which I saw with traveling is West Coast states like California, Oregon, Washington have nurse to patient ratios. By law, depending on what unit you work on, you cannot have more than four patients if you’re tele, three patients if you’re step-down, one if you’re ICU. One to two if you have one stable, but here if we ever said like “I’m only going to take four patients,” they’d laugh in your face. I went from this job at Jersey Shore, which was mayhem, like eight patients, and they’re like, “You’re getting to ninth and sorry.” That was time for me to cry in the dialysis closet, me taking my whole computer in the dialysis closet to chart because I didn’t have a second to breathe. Then I got to California and they gave me my assignment in the morning and I was like, “I think you forgot a couple of patients. You’re missing something.” and they were like, “You only have three today.” I had no idea what to do with my time. I knew everything about my patient.
She would send me pictures of her reading and was like, “I looked up everybody’s history. I know everything about all my patients” and I will be like “I am having lunch at 11 AM. I’m still giving them their morning medications.”
The chiropractic office where I did my internship was out in California. They rest people after their adjustment for an hour. If you try to do that in New Jersey, people will be like, “Next.” I literally tell people “Can you sit in the back for five minutes right now? I have to go.” It’s just go and I definitely think it has to play health issue-wise too. Even myself, I was just so much calmer out there and relaxed. I love it here but it’s like boom, boom, go, go, go.
It’s such a different mentality. Telemetry, it’s cardiac like broad heart diagnosis but cardiac-related. We would get report on all these patients, you have to pull your meds right away. You’re fighting over the med room who’s going to get in there first. My first couple of shifts in California, it was like I got report in the med room, starting to pass meds, and everyone was like, “Annie, what are you doing? Have a cup of coffee before you start.” I’m like, “What do you mean can I have a cup of coffee? I got to give my meds.” They were like “What are you doing?” Everything was so fine. Because we’re so fast-paced here, we have that mentality that everything becomes a checklist. I was like, “I will give my meds, I need to do my assessment. I need to do this, this and this,” which is fine and be like organizing to have a checklist, but when you’re so dependent on it.
That’s why East Coast people thrive out in California because when they get there, they are twenty steps ahead of everybody. After six months, it wears off and you got to do something again and then you go back and everyone’s like, “Pick it up.”
Everyone should be on a constant rotation of six months here and six months there.
If you’ve lived in Southern California your entire life and never left, you’re shocked because you have no idea. You’ve been in a bubble your entire life. Everyday is the perfect day. If I’m completely unaware of that, give it to me all day.
What else would you change, Al?
I work with a lot of amazing physicians. Not that I’m in the ICU, it’s a little more hands-on because there’s always a physician there. There are always residents and students, so it’s a little closer knit, but on the floors, we see these things every day. We see patients intubated every day. We see that cardiac caths, so we see this stuff all the time that we often get jaded. Sometimes this is the first person that has ever been hospitalized in someone’s family, so they’re like, “Oh God,” and you almost forget.
Whose job is that when shit like that happens, to go talk to the family and tell them?
Ours. In ICU, they’re always there, so it’s easier to pull the doctor in and have them explain everything and we’re there with them so we can have a good rapport. We have doctors that will sit down with the family, eye to eye on their level and talk. On the floors, it’s hard because these physicians are getting so pressured to see 100 patients a day, you need to do this, this and this, so they don’t have the time to fully explain what’s going on. I’m not bashing doctors. I work with an amazing team, but they’re getting so much heat that they only have five minutes to spend with you. You have a million questions and the second they leave, then you remember all the questions. I try to explain. I’m not an interventional cardiologist, but I can explain to you as best as I can.
There’s lack of communication.
It’s slowing it down and communication.
Taking the time to speak with the family members. In the ICU, it’s gotten much better. They do take their time because so much is going on.
Did you, at one point, have to talk to a couple of families and be like, “He did not make it.”
We never do the pronouncing, but I’ve had instances before where I thought the doctor was not telling them the truth about what was going on. Not saying like, “Mom is sick, and it doesn’t look good from here.” I will never forget this one patient I had. She was having agonal breathing. She looked horrible. She lived a very long life and she didn’t want any further treatment, so it was easier for me to say to the family, like, “I don’t think they’re being very honest with you.” If this were my mom or this were my grandma, this would be my course of action, but you have to be very delicate because some families are very receptive to that and some are flipping a table, like “How dare you say that to me?”
EM 048 | Saints Of Medicine Saints Of Medicine: There are definitely some people who are very hell bent on their diet and multivitamins and they need to make sure that they’re accommodated in that way.
I had a patient in our hospital in that situation like and we were all, “We’re torturing this man.” On our side of it, we’re continuously doing these things.
That’s another frustrating thing about nursing. You do above and beyond for these patients who are 95 years old. How many times are you going to do CPR on this? 95.
Some people are respectful and are like, “My mom would want to be comfortable,” but other people are like, “We want everything.” We’ll say to them that they’re not candidates sometimes. Sometimes you’re not going to get the surgery, and they are not even seeing.
That’s another East Coast and West Coast thing where the holistic and the hospice isn’t so talked about here, like the euthanasia in Washington like, “You don’t know Jack. This is a non-sponsored comment.”
How did that work? Was he euthanizing people that wanted it?
I’m not sure which came first, but I know now if you wanted assisted suicide or euthanasia, I’m not sure of the formal term. To go to Washington, you have to go there, you have to be a resident for six months and you have to go to these steps. It’s not just like, “I’m dying.” You have to hit a lot of criteria to be approved, but I agree with it.
The problem in healthcare is death is not talked about in everyday conversation. I had a conversation with my parents the other day and I was like, “You don’t want to hear this, but I don’t want X, Y, and Z. if anything happened to me, we’re all going to die one day.” It’s not talked about and that’s an issue with a lot of family members. Everyone is expecting to come into the hospital and be like, “Poof, I’m fixed, everything is better.” Such good medicine and such good technology that it will be easy.
We’re lucky we have all those resources, but on the other hand, at what point are we playing God or playing this higher being.
What’s the rule with someone on a respirator? Is it as long as they keep paying for it? Is it don’t pull the plug?
I don’t think there’s an actual like protocol. If you have a breathing tube for more than like two weeks or two and a half weeks, you’re nearing that point where you can’t live on it forever. Whether you need like an artificial airway, like trache or you decide to remove it and let them go peacefully. I don’t think there’s an actual time limit, but generally, after two to two and a half weeks, you’re going to get into that conversation.
It gets scary because there’s cardiac death and there’s brain death, which are two very different types. I worked very closely with the Sharing Network. I work heart transplants and lung transplants, immediate post-op and our protocol statewide is if a patient’s on a respirator for X amount of time and they’re Glasgow Coma scale is a certain number, it’s less than five or less than three, you’re required to call the Sharing Network because this person has been on a ventilator, they’re not responding, can we talk to the family about withdrawing care? What’s the plan? Can we harvest their organs for somebody who might need them, which is a very touchy situation? A lot of touchy subjects.
You must also have some absolutely amazing days. What is the best part of nursing? What do you absolutely love about it?
I work with an amazing team, so that makes a huge impact to like your job, how your day goes, and seeing the family members are so appreciative, especially in the ICU. That’s what I like most about it, so you can see the progress. Not staying on other floors, you can’t, but three days ago I had him. He had a breathing tube and was on five different pressers or medications to keep his heart rate and his blood pressure up, and now he’s sitting up in a chair, getting transferred out. That’s awesome and then the family.
I had this one girl, her mom was not doing well, and I always wear these headbands to work because my hair is never really lost, and she’s always like, “I love your headband. I’m a nurse like you and wear headbands.” I was crying, “Don’t do it.” It’s tough at times, but it’s definitely rewarding as well.
You have your moments like you’ll have the worst day and then one time, somebody will say something to you and you’re like, “Yes, I definitely love this job.” Then something else happens five minutes later. It’s like an ongoing cycle, a lot of ups and downs, but it’s very rewarding. I’ve cried so many times at work, but happy tears.
Especially if someone reminds you of somebody, like the cute little old man would remind me of my grandpa.
It’s got to be awesome too like a personal job. You see different people all day long. If those are enjoyable people, it must be a lot of fun.
I work patients straight out of open heart surgery. They bypass any recovery. They are straight to me. I am their one-to-one person. I had this gentleman, he was 72, open heart surgery and his wife was just a mess and she was like, “I live an hour away, I want to sleep in my car.” I was like, “First of all, we’re in Newark and if you sleep in your car, we will never see you again, so go home. If you want to call me every five minutes, you can, to see how things are going.” She called me, “How’s he doing?” I said, “He’s doing great,” this, that, and the other thing and she said to me, “Thank you so much for being his angel.” I had one stream down my face. I was definitely exhausted, too, but things like that make you so happy. You forget that you are this person’s eyes and ears. I had a doctor say to me, who’s the smartest man I’ve ever met, and I asked him a question like, “How do you feel about this?” He was like, “Annie, a doctor is only as good as his nurses are. You’re my eyes. You’re my ears. Whatever you see, hear and think, then I agree.” I was like, “I forgot that I do that.”
These are some of the hardest days of people’s lives. We see it every day, so it’s being jaded but this is like if your husband had a massive heart attack or was found unresponsive. How many times do you get people that went to the gym and never came home? That’s mind blowing. These people rely on you, they call, they update you, so it’s scary for people.
EM 048 | Saints Of Medicine Saints Of Medicine: The problem in healthcare is death is not talked about in everyday conversation.
It’s almost like you got patients on both sides. You have the actual patient and then you have the family.
We are the liaison. That’s a perfect word for nursing. We are the liaison between patient, family, doctor, pharmacy, dietary, cousin who lives in Minnesota, who has a question about their medication unrelated to the patient. We’re the first line of defense, so whoever comes in the room is like, “What is this?”
We’re slightly impartial.
When I worked in Seattle, we saw a lot of sad, but a lot of patients that were so sick and then all of a sudden, you come in the next day and you’re like, “You’re up. You’re getting up and you’re eating waffles.” This is the best thing I’ve ever seen. I had this patient who was 25 years old who had locked-in syndrome. She threw me for a loop, this girl. It started from these benign tumors that were growing. She would get them in her cochlear system, in her pelvis. They were monitoring them. She went to go get one removed, surgery, went great, no big deal, and then a couple days later, something didn’t feel right, she’s in the hospital, she’s intubated within 48 hours of being in the hospital. It was like the quickest decline. She’s 25 years old and they had no idea. They did spinal taps. They did all these tests but couldn’t figure out what was going on. Locked-in syndrome is you are paralyzed from head to toe. The only thing that can move is your eyes, so she can move her eyes up and down and that’s how we talk to her.
It was the most surreal thing. Her mom was so involved in her care because it’s her baby. She’s 25. She would move her eyes like up for yes, down for now, and that’s how we would talk. I had the most amazing experience with her. I like my music and she would always have music on in the room and we would talk. It’s amazing. What a testament to who she is as a person that I could have a meaningful conversation with this girl and she was only moving her eyes to the sounds of David Bowie. I was like, “Let me unplug your phone. I got some music for you.” This girl, so young, and one day I told my charge nurse, “I have to do something good for her. I’ve had her for weeks now, I need to do something good for her,” so she took over my other patients. I sat in a room, I painted her nails, I did her hair. I put some makeup on just to make her feel good. Her mom came in and saw her and started bawling, I started bawling. It was one of those experiences that are like, “Nursing is amazing.” Then one day she wiggled her toes and I swear to God, I did a back flip. I was so happy. It was the greatest things.
Did she make a full recovery? Is she still a locked-in syndrome?
As far as I know, she went to a long-term acute care.
Nothing crazy happened to her. It just happened one day?
It just happened.
It’s scary because she’s our age. That’s when I see people, I am like, “That could be me,” or if I see somebody like my parents’ age, I’m like, “This could be my dad.”
It’s made me overly paranoid. I’m such a hypochondriac. I had a pain in my toe and I was like, “This is it.”
We were texting in a group chat, she texted us and she gets migraines, and so her left eye was blurry and we’re like, “It might be a stroke, you need to call your neurologist. You should probably go get a PET scan just in case.” She was like, “I’m dehydrated.”
I’m so type A crazy OCD, so when something happens to me, I’m like, “I have to be my own nurse now.”
How did you get into our future business endeavor? How did you think about that?
It’s going to be hard to talk about it without a disclosing too much. We’re not patented yet.
Does it exist in New Jersey right now?
I Googled it and there is one place, but we can make it so much better. We know nothing about it. We can do it better.
Something we take for granted is a simple fix.
Maybe if we do say what it is, we will have to do it. This is patented.
If you are an audience and you are an entrepreneur and you need some business partners, we’re here, but tomorrow we’re going to see them on Shark Tank, and “That’s our idea.”
We were having a day, having a couple of cocktails. I don’t remember if it stemmed from us being hung over, where all good ideas start. We’re all professionals. You were saying they got one in California. I would pay getting the guts and no brainer, of course I would do that, and I was like, “I do that all day at work, so why not?” We would like to start an IV therapy not just for hangovers but primarily most of our population, age-defying vitamin mixes. They have it for everything. You’re having a migraine, you think you’re having a stroke, just feeling blah. Rejuvenating.
EM 048 | Saints Of Medicine Saints Of Medicine: We are the liaison. That’s a perfect word for nursing.
You feel sick?
Sometimes I don’t want to drink a gallon of water, which I know could be lazy, but it could happen in an hour.
We need a physician, but then we need an outsource. Who’s going to supply us with these? We will supply the nurses. I will put an IV in you with my eyes closed.
I did Google it and there’s one in Fort Lee and Clifton, so we do have a little competition in another county.
I need you to do a little scouting, I need you to go to Clifton, walk in, and be a patient, see what’s up.
Definitely catch them on some aseptic technique that they’re not doing right and that will shut them down quick.
We will just corner the market.
Especially with all the wealthier people in Rumson, Spring Lake, and Sea Girt, if I told you this would make you feel younger, there is a bunch of vitamins in it, you will feel like a million bucks afterwards.
They have it on the Las Vegas strip. They do have in New York. California, they are literally everywhere. There are people sitting on couches with an IV bag getting all the vitamins.
This is obviously getting a little carried away, but what if we got a mobile van, so we can go to like concerts.
That might be the first step there. The mobile unit is probably the way to go.
It would do well and then we can travel around. This is the dream.
Any day could be a new day.
I would sit in the van just interviewing people.
That’s amazing because we do, we hang saline. I hung three liters of saline.
I don’t have a patient not on IV fluids.
What would you say to any aspiring nurse that’s about to start their journey?
I would say it’s definitely worth it. I question that so many times in college when everybody was out, raging on a Saturday and I was putting my scrubs on to go to Temple to do free work, but it’s super rewarding. I love the flexibility of the schedule and there are so many routes to go. I don’t even know now what I want to do with my master’s, going back to school, and there’s so many different avenues that you can go down. It’s super flexible. I didn’t know what I wanted to do either, but I knew I liked science and I knew I liked people. There’re so many doors that open just from going, so it’s worth it.
It’s definitely challenging. You come out stronger after it, too. I love talking to my dad. He’s a retired fireman. If you want to sit and drink bourbon with someone, he is your guy. You’ve got to catch Brian in his element. You can’t force him to do anything. Brennan’s every Friday night, that’s our thing. We eat steak together every Friday night. He’s a fireman.
In Jersey City. Big manly guy, Marine, so you only know what he’s seen. He is perfect. How is anybody going to live up to my father is the question. I tell him about my day and he’s like, “I can’t believe you do what you do.” Hearing that from him is almost like, “Wow.” I couldn’t do what he does. I couldn’t go into a burning building, but it’s a rewarding job. It’s not glamorous. I definitely had bodily fluids on me before that were not supposed to be on my scrubs. You see your fair share of poop. It doesn’t even faze me anymore.
My sisters are teachers and I could not imagine.
Everyone has their thing. Everyone has what they are supposed to do.
There’s a lot of people that are working that are just comfortable with all that, so how exciting is that? That doles you out on the long run where you’re high alert, all set up, never a dull moment.
Nursing is not a complacent job. There had been times when I’ve been so tired and I’m like, “I’m just going to do the bare minimum today,” and then I walk in and I’m like, “Nope.”
You can’t be hung over. You can’t do that. That is the worst.
I was walking into work and I was like, “I’m going to have to have the same patients back,” and they switched my assignment and I had a guy there from the OR. I was like, “Got to be on my toes.” There is no being tired.
EM 048 | Saints Of Medicine Saints Of Medicine: Nursing is not a complacent job.
There are no days off. You’ve got to be on your A-game.
There are twelve hours when you are like, “I haven’t had a sip of water or gone to the bathroom all day,” and you don’t even realize until you sit down and you’re like, “I’m parched. I’m very hungry.” Sometimes it’s thankless, but all the times that you feel that it is thankless, it’s so rewarding.
Something always happens. When you’re like, “Why do I do this? This is the worst.” I could’ve been done marketing and PR for some cool event planning in the city living the dream, and then something happens and you’re like, “I wouldn’t have chosen anything else.”
I talked to my friend, Kaylin, a lot. She works in film. She works very closely with celebrities and tells me all these things. I’m like, “That’s so cool. I want to do that.”
They do CPR for 40 minutes and sweating.
I hear from her and we talk about our day or whatever and she’ll come back to me and be like, “You don’t want to do what I do. I want to do what you do.” I’d take it over anything else except maybe our little business plan because we can incorporate everything we want to do into it.
Thank you so much for coming on.
Thank you for having us.
You are the saints of medicine.