On the day of my interview as an entry applicant and still fresh from passing the nursing board examinations, I was asked by the nurse manager as to what area would I want to be assigned in if she should hire me for the company. There was a moment of silence as I have no idea whatsoever, so I blurted out, “ICU, please!” For me, it seems like an area that only the prestigious and the elite can get in (duuuh, talk about ego boosters). But a few months after I got in the ICU, I discovered that I am actually a girl who loves the adrenaline pumping action in the emergency room. So basically, most nurses, and specially the fresh graduates, have to initially play a game of trial-and-error to determine the area that they would love to be in for the long haul. If I had known sooner, I should have worked in the emergency room early on and spared a good nine months of working in the ICU.
This is why, based on my nursing experience, I would like to enumerate some important tips in determining the kind of area that you might like as dictated by your personality.
1. The Fast-and-the-Furious Emergency Unit
If you have the kind of personality that would remind you of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, then you are more inclined with situations that are action-packed and wild such as in the Emergency Unit. In the ER, they do not require you to provide total bedside care the whole shift.
Why it is perfect for you: Yes, it is perfect for people who are not into bedside nursing! After the procedure has been done and the patient has stabilized, the responsibility of the patient is no longer yours after endorsing them to their designated floor. Of course there is a catch, as the emergency room is the first frontier in patient services. This would mean that you are almost blind to what is going on with the patient (shudder), so extra precautions should be strictly observed. You also have to be quick minded and alert to various signs of distress. You also have to possess a great mind for prioritization, as the ER is not a first-come-first-serve basis.
2. The Intimate Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
If you possess a multi-tracked mind, has a passion for routine, patient familiarity, intimacy, and providing your full-attention to one patient at a time, then the Intensive Care Unit is right for you.
Every single thing that you have learned in your academic life is applicable here: from providing self-care assistance such as bed-bath to giving companionship and heart-to-heart talks (granting that your patient is able to talk and conscious) because let’s face it, what are you going to do for the rest of the shift when you are alone in a single booth, right?
Why it is perfect for you: It is the job for you if you would want to be more in command in providing your patients the continuity of care. In addition to that, you got to witness their recovery with close supervision. Yes, control freaks, this area is for y’all yo! The downside is, the pressure is on a higher level and you have to be independent enough to work on your own. Not to mention, you have to be advanced in the sense that you have to act as a first responder to your patient in case of arrests or emergency situations.
The ICU has sub areas to choose from, such as the Coronary Care Unit (CCU), the Renal Intensive Care Unit (RICU), the pediatric ICU (PICU), the neonatal ICU (NICU), and the surgical ICU (SICU), to name a few. Whichever is your field of expertise or interest, the ICU will provide the most rigorous of all training, experience wise.
3. The Repair Shop: Surgical Unit
If you are the person who loooves to crack things and turn them inside out to fix them up, then I would take you to the surgical unit. Take a moment to remember your younger years from way back when, and if you can remember more broken toys because you have opened them up out of curiosity, then without a clue, you were actually preparing yourself to a life of bliss in the Operating Room.
Why it is perfect for you: Nothing is more exciting for you than the idea of being able to see the actual beating heart before your very eyes or seeing tumors as big as melons being extracted from the insides of a human body. Plus if you are into sterile things, this is a touch of heaven for you. And oh! If you also prefer your patients to be unconscious most of the time (not to sound despicably harsh here), please, by all means, choose the surgical unit.
4. The Cute and Cuddly Pediatric and Nursery Unit
If you have a motherly and nurturing personality, and if winning the hearts of kiddos works like a charm whenever you are around them, then I bet you will enjoy your life in the pediatric and nursery unit.
Who would not love kids, right? They are adorable, little tykes! But as cute as it can be if your ward is filled with giggling babies and cheeky kids, there are times when the babies and toddlers in the unit would decide to start a storm of tantrums and be unbearable. Now these situations are something that you can handle like a pro, as you have a sustainable amount of patience and self-control within you.
Why it is perfect for you: You have the personality that can gain their trust and soothe them even if they become impossible to handle. You love it when you are feeding a baby, or giving them a lullabye, or providing them a bath, because it feels so serene. It is all too laid back, but all too sweet and tender. And if talking to kids makes a lot more sense than talking to adults (that is super true), then spare yourself from the complexities of the adults and take yourself to this unit. Plus they make the cutest of all thank you cards, with them committing the most adorable misspelled words and the sweetest dedications. For all we know, those are already coming from the deepest of their cores to show you how much you really meant to them. Awwww…
5. The Abundance of the Medical Unit
If you are the kind of person who prefers diversion, working in the medical unit will satisfy your need for constant change.
Now this is the unit where every imaginable medical cases come together, from the simplest sore throat down to the rarest cases of patients who had brain stones (yep, apparently, it existed which was caused about by a Celiac disease complication). It contains patients who are under the care of nephrologists, neurologists, orthopedics, pain management physicians, patients who are malnourished or with endocrine dilemmas, with hormonal imbalances, and so much more. It is a place where the cornucopia of maladies is contained, ladies and gentlemen. In other words: ultimate chaos that is satisfyingly at its best.
Why it is perfect for you: The place is just abundant with medical scenarios, each one unique, each one only for you to witness. I guess it is safe to say that you are the kind of person that does not discriminate. Everything is not too hard for you to handle. This is why you became a nurse, right? To heal every single person, no matter what kind of disease they have, is your daily mantra before going to work. Ergo, this is your dream destination! This is where healing becomes a whole lot challenging than the rest of the areas in the hospital.
6. The Bed Of Roses in the Maternity Department and Delivery Room
If you are the kind of nurse who loves the miracle and science of childbirth, then there is no need to think further, as the delivery room will be your haven.
They say that you will never be the same once you see the actual process of birth itself, from the first pains of labor down to the declaration of the sex of the child in the unit. You will appreciate life even more (especially your mother), and find new hope with each child being born. This is where women metaphorically lie down on the bed of roses and thorns to uphold the greater good of giving life to another human being (oy, poetic!).
Why it is perfect for you: In the delivery room, nurses are cheerleaders. It is filled with shouts of encouragements, of keeping the expectant mother motivated to keep on pushing her limits to give birth to her baby. So if you have the spirit of a cheerleader, this is the area for you.
7. The Anal Infection Control Unit (Isolation Rooms)
If you are an anal nurse (hold on, let me explain first before you start thinking about sordid thoughts), because according to Sir Sigmund Freud, you are still fixated in the anal stage for being too obsessed with spotless cleanliness and sterility, then I recommend the Infection control unit for you.
Why it is perfect for you: If you are not afraid of the most contagious microorganisms ever created by God, plus if you are too lazy to work your ass out in any of the areas mentioned above, probably the infection control is your best choice. Having a unit of people who fights off infection and putting a stopper to its spread is generally crucial to the entire hospital itself, as the place is teaming with a variety of infectious agents that could cause nosocomial infections. That is when you come in. You are needed for your OC-ness with cleanliness.
8. The Mentally Stimulating Psychiatric Unit
If you are the kind of person who has a topshelf ability in therapeutic listening and communication skills, you are definitely needed in the unit. I guess anyone who works in this unit is, for the lack of a better word, “psyched,” to be able to witness the full spectrum of psychiatric disorders, and how these can actually pose a threat to the safety of a person.
Why it is perfect for you: This area is probably the most avoided part of the hospital, and nurses in this area could be branded as the bravest souls in the world. Everything is just too unpredictable and it could oftentimes turn violent in a snap. But for you, everyday is a “Challenge accepted!” kind of day. Plus, to add a disclaimer, psychiatric wards are not a place that is despondent of cheerfulness. On the contrary, it is actually where the simplest of your contributions could mean a lot in saving someone else’s life – a simple smile, an understanding nod, a soothing word and even you being silent. You have no idea how much power you have in saving a person who is already lost in their own world just by listening to them without any judgment. You, as a nurse, have the capability to respect them and give them back their dignity by making a human effort to understand what they are going through or why they have become disassociated with the world.
As nurses, we have to believe that whichever area we chose to concentrate on, we are not wearing our scrubs just to work for the paycheck or by the dictates of our profession alone, but because we serve a much deeper and higher purpose for humanity’s sake.
In all the areas that I have worked with, I have learned that everyone has a story for my ears to hear, and I learned a lot from them in becoming a better human being. We can always choose the area that we wished to work for, but nevertheless, we can never choose the people seeking for our care and attention. But that is not a problem. As long as we are open and committed to our purpose as a nurse, we will learn a lot and be relentless in our desire to serve life, and you will be the best nurse anywhere you go.