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Stepping away from direct patient contact

I am what most would call a people person. I am the kind of person that flourishes in busy situations interacting with many people. I started my career with direct patient contact in Spring 2006 when I was in school for a different modality. Growing up my mom was a nurse and I just knew my future was in healthcare. Even as the youngest child of 5 I would still try to help take care of my siblings when they were sick. How could I decide to walk away from direct patient contact? Do I miss my interactions with my patients? Do I think I will lose all my hands on skills?

The decision to step away from direct patient care was not taken lightly. I love the feeling of knowing I am giving my patients the best care possible. There was often a feeling of distinguished pride when you put EEG electrodes on a particularly challenging patient. After you do the hook up comes the next challenge of watching the EEG and making sure to advocate for your patients. Sometimes it can be challenging when it is the middle of the night and you have to reach out to the physician several times. This feeling of unease always subsides for me when the seizing patient is treated. Depending on your department you may be putting electrodes on many intubated and sedated patients. I like to talk to my patients even if there is high probability that they can not hear me. Sometimes the interaction with the patient's loved ones in an Intensive Care Unit may be just the calming relief they need.

As the neurodiagnostic field has expanded it has left many facilities without proper staffing. As staffing is limited the amount of people needing the testing is not decreasing. Many facilities can not fill all positions. There are many departments that are overworked and sadly at times that may mean that the preferred level of patient safety and quality could be lacking. I know when I worked in the situation of high patient ratios and/or acuity I was struggling to offer the best patient care possible so it mentally drained me. I felt like no matter how hard I swam the current kept pulling me back. The stress of feeling like you can't meet certain standards starts to weigh on you. I knew I had to change my environment even if it was scary. I wasn't going to compromise on my level of care anymore.

As I said before I am a people person and loved taking care of my patients. It was hard to leave direct patient care. I started to do continuous monitoring from home and I get to be the relief that I wish I had at my hospital. I don't directly interact with my patients but I do interact with their doctors and nurses on their behalf. I know I can help multiple patients and facilities safely keep their high level of patient care. Because of me and my fellow staff we know patients are well taken care of.

When I first started to work remotely I was concerned I would lose my hands on skills. The truth is that if and when I return to direct patient care I will likely be slower. I believe placing EEG electrodes will be like riding a bike. It should be like muscle memory and will improve as time goes on. My other biggest concern is the physical damage bending and straining can put on your body. Like many in health care I have learned the valuable lessons of one wrong move can cause serious damage. I believe in being honest with my patients and have them help as much as possible. You only have one body and need to protect it. Not sure if I will ever go back to the hospital setting but I know I am still giving my patients everything each shift.


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