Nursing Management FAIL (Part I)

matron1When I was working in maternity, I greeted a Matron while passing her by on my way to the laboratory. She greeted back and asked me if I was enjoying the post natal ward. I quickly replied “Yes, I’m happy.” Her smile faded as though I’d blurted a vulgar word and she replied, “You’re not supposed to be happy, you’re supposed to be working hard!” Now maybe she just likes messing with people’s heads but in general, the managers all seem to live by that principle.

Management FAIL number one: Practicing negative reinforcement.

They practice negative reinforcement techniques and do everything possible to make us feel like we‘re on opposing ends, working against each other. They never hear us out and if you did speak of your preferences and needs, they’d give you the exact opposite. Your opinion has little value to them, and they love walking around with their noses in the air and a sense of exaggerated self-importance.

Management FAIL number two: Stilting career progress.

Like any oppressive leader, management has some nonsensical rule against nurses studying. I’m not sure if it’s like this everywhere else but in South Africa, there have been nurses who have had to threaten to resign in order to be given permission to further their studies. They try to blame this on poor funding but they won’t allow you to study even if you pay for the course from your own pocket. My assumption is that they don’t want nurses to study because they want to save some money. You pay less for a staff nurse who is a jack of all trades than you would for an RN. When they are short staffed, it is not uncommon practice to see an EN or sometimes even an ENA running the ward!

Management FAIL number three: Instilling false hope.

I’ve seen many great nurses fall into this trap. Management hints at the possibility of a promotion to get certain nurses to take on more responsibility than they need to. These nurses lead the department meticulously. They organize the department, iron out its problems, get working systems in place, manage staff, and take the rap when things go wrong. They carry the department gracefully and with pride and passion, only to later find that the promotion is given to someone else. The glow that once represented their quest to be rewarded for their outstanding efforts dims. No explanation given, these poor nurses have to suck it in and accept it but everything they do from then on, is done with less drive and less passion then before and the nurse in her slowly dies from acute demotivation syndrome.

“Management FAIL count” to be continued. Comments welcome!

Photography Nurse

So you’re burnt out and bored with life and you need something fun to do in your spare time. There is nothing sexier than a photographer other than a guitarist, a painter and Jash in my opinion. Imagine yourself with your photography kit capturing those beautiful moments. People oohing and aahing over your spectacular ability to make photos look better than the real thing, imagine the excitement of seeing your photos shared online and passed around the world for millions to admire. Yes, you can do photography part time or full time and no you don’t need to go to photography school to do it either. The internet is your friend and it is literally the most powerful tool of all time!

I recently acquired a Nikon D3100 camera. It’s perfect for the beginner photographer. Jash and I have been having tons of fun with it and it is opening doors to many more online opportunities. We got the camera because it looked sexy and it had beautiful reviews. We came home, unwrapped it and fell in love with it but we didn’t know the first thing about how to use it! There are tons of settings and so many buttons! It came with two lenses and we quickly bought ourselves a tripod (the bare necessities for any wannabe photographer). So what to do next? Read the manual? Heck no! We just got out our google-fu and found tons of tutorials online on how to use the camera, and found various tips and tricks on how to capture the world magnificently! We gathered that there were three basic settings that you should mess around with, ISO, apeture and shutter speed (go on and google it). YouTube has video tutorials all over the place explaining everything you would need to know. It didn’t take long before our photos started looking brilliant and combined with the power of PhotoShop (a photo editing program, you can try Gimp for a free alternative), we were soon being confused for professional photographers!


This is a photo that Jash took of our house when the surrounding area flooded. Keep in mind that it was taken at midnight and only could be captured this way with a camera that’s capable of a slow shutter speed and a high ISO. Pretty much any DSLR can do this (like the Nikon D3100).


Photography is an art and because you usually would need to be outdoors more often, it is the perfect way for a nurse to feel inspired and refreshed after a hard day at work. The best part is that if you can learn the basics and if you practice enough you could very realistically make some money with your photos! Yes, there are people who will pay for a good photo! Check out sites like iStockPhoto, ShutterStock, Fotolia, BigStockPhoto etc. It’s perfect for the underpaid nurse! 😀 If you’re not looking to make money out of it (yeah right!), then scrap booking and cutesy photo frames will be a great past time to get your mind off that annoying patient that laid a complaint against you because you refused to accompany her to the smoking area, while she was being treated for respiratory failure.

Nurses don’t know when to quit.

createnurse1So I haven’t been able to post in a while, my sister just got married and weddings take up more time and money than you would ever expect. She made a beautiful bride and she is now honeymooning in Durban with her new hubby. Now that the wedding’s over, I finally have time to reflect about my resignation from nursing. How does it feel to be an ex-nurse? Joyous and scary all at once!

While you’re in nursing, the thought of leaving it is always scary. It’s all you know, it’s a part of your life and a part of who you are. You can’t picture yourself doing anything else. Despite all the problems that come with it, nursing is admittedly a very stable job (as long as you can avoid lawsuits), and as a nurse you earn a certain amount of public respect (even though nurses are the number 1 scapegoat for when anything goes wrong with a patient). One nurse said that she is proud of me for following my dreams because nurses don’t usually do such things. They get into nursing and they stay in it no matter what the cost is to them.

It may not seem like it, but every single day a nurse goes to work, she is in danger. You just never know what to expect out of your day. Many nurses get injured on duty or attacked by violent patients, and some are unfortunate enough to contract diseases from their patients. Every day you spend lifting heavy patients, working long hours on your feet, working the night shift, eating quickly prepared high-carb, sugary snacks, sleeping at strange hours, your body takes damage points. Nurses end up highly stressed out with back and knee problems in the end. Nurses often are the strongest member of their family because they are trained to suck in their own feelings and neglect their own needs in the interest of others (much like mothers). But there comes a point in every nurses life where they will feel like they’ve had enough! The problem is that many nurses reach that point but don’t know how to break away from nursing and that’s when burnout sets in.

You find yourself calling in sick often, being cold and unfriendly to staff and patients, you feel depressed and cry often, you go home and get agitated with your family, you stay home, locked away in your room, refusing to socialize…it affects every aspect of your life…but you still won’t quit nursing. What would you do other than nursing? How would you cope without that steady income? You’ve studied for too many years to throw it all away now. You did this all your life. It’s too daunting to start over now.

Yes, it’s a tough decision to make but I think I have just the thing to help inspire and motivate you to either change careers or ease your burnout. I believe that everyone is multi-talented. In fact talent has little to do with it. When I started learning about web design, I wasn’t very good with it, I just found it a soothing and relaxing hobby. It made me feel good after a long day at the hospital. It took my mind off of the bleakness of nursing. The more my interest in it grew, the faster I started to realize that this could actually be something I could make a career out of. The more I practiced, the more confident I became that I could actually leave nursing behind me with no regrets attached.

I just added a new section “Creativity” to my blog which covers anything and everything creative and inspirational. Check it out, who knows you just might find enough inspiration to help you either be a happier person (hence a better nurse), or to develop a new career altogether!

Creativity Saves Nurses!

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.
What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda

I am sure you’ve all heard enough from Nurse Arkadia over there in the neighboring tab. I’d like to introduce you to Arkadia the designer. I am going to be blogging about various forms of creativity and hopefully you guys will find something inspiring enough to keep your burn out from pushing you over the edge. There is a lot of ways to get creative. You don’t have to have an inborn talent; you just have to have an interest in something creative. If there is a creative field you’d like me to cover in this section, don’t be afraid to comment or email me at

A nurses good nature…

There I am feeling soft and mushy, taking care of this very ill and seemingly debilitated patient. As I clean her body, I feel guilty for taking my own health for granted and my heart goes out to her. I take extra special care to remember to comb her hair after I wash her body and put on body lotion, baby powder and perfume. Tugging, pulling and pushing all by myself, I change her diapers and her position in bed every 2-4 hours. I touch her hand and ask her how she is but there is no answer. I feel even more sad thinking that she won’t last long.

But then a “miracle” happens…

Her family request that the doctor release her for a weekend. He grants the pass out. The family arrive the next day to fetch her and she sits right up, walks to the bathroom, takes a hot shower and gets dressed like any healthy person would. I watched in disgust as she laughed and joked with her family. This woman had been crapping in diapers when she was fully capable of walking! I spent a lot of time taking care of her and feeling sorry for her and she had been faking it the whole time. Even worse, she could hear me when I spoke to her and asked her to get better. She was probably sniggering under the covers when I turned my back!

I felt really pissed off that she wasted my time and energy and used me like that! She didn’t even leave with a small thank you and she never returned to the hospital since. Now I know how a wet wipe feels!

There are people who try to act sicker than they are but they don’t all manage to pull it off that well. This morning I had a patient who tried to fake like she was shivering. I almost laughed on her face at her failed attempt to get some attention (glad for the facemask I was wearing that hid my smile). She just looked so hilarious. Her body was not trembling, her lips were not quivering, her teeth were not chattering. She just bobbed her head from side to side like an Indian dancer and made a strange sound that resembled the mooing of a cow. Acting FAIL!

Higher force takes nurses life!

Oh wow! I actually handed in my resignation with a 1 month notice. 17th January is officially my last day as a nurse! It feels surreal! After doing the same thing for so long it is going to take some time to adjust to the change but even with all the mixed feelings I am having, I am sure that this is the right move.

I went to the manager’s office like I was on auto-pilot; it felt like my legs were taking me there quickly before I could change my mind. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the office face to face with the Matron wondering how I got there!

“Good morning, I came to give in my resignation.” said a familiar voice that spoke without my permission.

The manager looked at me for a minute, taking my words in, with a look of surprise and then disappointment on her face. “I thought you were a keeper and there is a new nursing course around the corner waiting for you.” she said. I took in the words slowly, feeling my fear rush in, and for that moment I felt a tinge of doubt. Should I change my mind and take this course? Maybe I should continue my studies in nursing? Nursing is after all one of the most stable jobs in the world with many perks.

I mean, everybody loves nurses (well almost everybody). Banks love them, credit card companies love them, and salesmen especially love nurses. You can get credit approval, loans and vehicle finance almost instantaneously if you’re a nurse. They know it’s a long-term career with a very stable income and there are always jobs available in nursing. Plus they know that nurses love to spend! Something about being an independent, professional woman makes you spend impulsively. I would be even more independent and considered an even more respected professional if I took this course which the Matron was cleverly using as leverage to make me retract my resignation.

I tried to retreat, but some force inside me put me on mute so I smiled stupidly and waited for her to speak further. She looked at me for a long while before she decided to read the letter. Then she wished me luck and said that I would be missed. Doubt crept over me again as she said that. It felt like I was leaving a family behind. I had gotten fond of many people at the hospital and it felt like a loss to let them go. I thanked the Matron for her time and I walked out of the office like a robot. I was in such shock that I somehow ended up at home without remembering myself driving there. Once reality struck, I let out a screech of excitement and told everyone about it.  I am so glad to have so many supportive people around me, or I would never have worked up enough courage to let it go! I am all kinds of nervous and worried that if I fail at my new web design business, I am going to become a drunk hobo on the streets begging for coins. But when I am level-headed, I can see myself doing really well in this new career, with my awesome and incredibly talented partner, Jash, being my backbone, while I adjust to the changes. The best part is I LOVE the work! It feels rewarding and fun and I am making money doing it.

If you are forcing yourself to be passionate about your job, then you really should start looking into alternative careers. I squeezed out all the strength I could muster to remain interested in nursing and eventually all the passion potion ran dry and it felt like my soul was dying. After I put my fears to rest and marched forth, steady focused on my dream, my soul revived itself and great new things are coming into play automatically! It’s like the "universe" is waiting to give you all the things you want from life, pending action on your behalf. If you don’t open the door, don’t expect good things to come in. 

*Cuts the red ribbon for the opening of our new business: EccentricHusky!* YAY! (Website coming soon)


Heartfelt THANK YOU’s go to:
My mom & Jash’s mom (for your wisdom, tolerance and unconditional love); my sisters: Shady (for leading the way, you’re the bravest person I know!),   Kia & Niki (for your enthusiasm and love), Dhiya (you have been super inspiring and encouraging!), Vana (for always pushing me forth), MJ (for being the independent woman that you are ); my bro (you’d call me mushy if I said anything nice…so…you’re an idiot and I love you); my nurse friends who I can’t mention by name here; and most especially JASH! (Couldn’t be here without you babe! You’re my rock!). All of you are made of awesomeness beyond measurable!!

Nurse! Decode this Prescription!

Doctors must obviously be intelligent people (well most of them anyway), but what’s with their handwriting? I was told once that because they do a lot of writing over the years, it makes it difficult to keep neat handwriting. I am not expecting beautifully constructed letters that would make my first grade teacher glow with pride, but can’t they manage having ugly handwriting while keeping it legible anyway? Of course if a nurse gave the wrong medication because she decoded the doctor's handwriting incorrectly, she’d be the one to take the fall. There are obviously some serious issues with illegible handwriting. Doctors usually refuse to help the situation, so the pharmacists at my hospital waste no time sending prescriptions back to the doctors with a note written boldly in red ink instructing the doctor to rewrite the prescription neatly.

Dr. Mathal is famous for having the worst handwriting and he would get extremely offended and defensive whenever the pharmacy would send him such notes. He’d kick a fuss and refuse to rewrite the script. He once even just walked right out of the consulting room and left the hospital. I wonder if he thinks he was making a point or something because in the end, it’s the patient that gets shoved about. First the patient gets sent back to the doctor with the illegible prescription to be rewritten and if the doc who wrote the script is no longer around, another doctor has to review the case from scratch (since he can't read the notes), then the patient goes back to the pharmacy again. It's a waste of time and it's frustrating for the ill and elderly.

But as karma would have it, one day Dr. Mathal had to write up a repeat prescription for a patient on chronic meds. He pulled out the previous script hoping he could copy it off from there so that he could finish up with the patient quickly and catch a ride home with one of his colleagues. The old script was illegible, and after studying it for a while, he couldn't decode the handwriting. The funniest part of it all was that it was his own handwriting! He look flustered and annoyed and had to interview and examine the patient all over again, which took him an extra half hour and he missed his ride home! I smiled inside.

Nurse should be paid to decode these!

If you can read this, you're a nurse!

Episode 4 – Bloody Portovac!

Previously on Nursing Habits: Arkadia fits a 100kg dead body into a tiny body bag…
The last offices.


Day 2 on the job at ICU was a little less traumatizing than the previous one. The Intensive Care Unit felt quite intense, and intimidating. On this particular day, there were 3 patients. Mr. Duze had been in a coma for many months after a car accident and was on life support, unable to move or speak. I wondered where his mind was? Was he dreaming? Was he able to hear things around him? Would he want to be kept in a hospital bed with no control over his body? While euthanasia is a controversial subject, I think I’d rather be dead.

Angelic Male Nurse

If he wakes up, he would be oxygen dependent.

The second bed was occupied by a suicidal policeman, Mr. Rose, that had even went to the extent of putting himself inside a body bag before shooting himself in the head. I believe he had been airlifted and treated at another hospital before coming to our hospital to be stabilized. He was coming around okay but he was extremely violent and very determined to abscond. He eventually did escape, injuring two nurses in the process. His relatives were not too thrilled and they threatened to sue if he turned up dead, since he was still in a very suicidal state of mind. Police were sent on a search and they eventually found him running around town with his butt sticking out of his hospital gown. He never did return to the hospital and I wonder if he ended up pulling the plug on himself eventually.

The third patient was an elderly woman who had some op done (I can’t remember what), I just remember her having a portovac (a portable wound suction device, that allows fluid such as blood to be evacuated), because I was instructed to empty it with disastrous results. I just popped open the lid and the next thing I know, blood splattered out of the portovac right onto my face! I looked like I had just murdered someone and I was thoroughly mortified and writhing with terror. The nurses were not very supportive, knowing that it was only my second day in practical training, and I was pissed that they didn’t tell me that there was a special way to open the portovac.

Sr. Sterile

How did you make such a mess? Don’t you know how to open a portovac?
Go wash up and then come and change the linen!

I obliged, wondering to myself if the tone she used on me was uncalled for. Was it not her responsibility to warn me of things like these? I mean, it’s the first time in my life encountering a portovac. And for the first-time user it’s not blatantly obvious that it would splash unless you clamped the cord down. I washed my face about 5 times before I felt safe enough to continue. Then I wondered whether I should have been tested for HIV or any other infectious disease, but none of the staff seemed concerned, even though I later learnt that they should have reported it to the occupational health and safety nurse to make certain that I was okay. Luckily after checking for myself, there were no adverse effects. I was still feeling roughed up after Mrs. Khosa’s death, and now I was being reprimanded for something that really wasn’t my fault. Two days down and I was already feeling dejected and unsupported. So begins the rollercoaster ride through one crazy career.

4 O’Clock? Cuppa Pee!

In maternity, we routinely collect urine samples for which we keep plastic cups in the toilets. A very pregnant lady came in one morning thinking that she was in labor. We pointed her to the toilet and asked her to pee in a cup. She comes back after a while, with a coffee cup full of urine! She somehow got into the nurses tea room and peed in the clerks coffee mug. Not only did she pee in his mug, she did the deed right in the middle of the tearoom!

The distraught look on the clerks face was quiet hilarious, but I would love to open up that patient’s brain to check if her logic is screwed in properly. How the heck do you enter a room full of chairs, tables, microwaves, lunch boxes and coffee mugs and think to yourself… “hmmm, this looks like a room fit for collecting urine samples.” Whiz away whiz kid, you must be a whiz of a mom! :-/

Cuppa Pee

NB: I now keep my coffee mug in my bag at all times.

Should you quit nursing?

I am on nightshift feeling a little down after being told that I would have to push back my resignation date by a few weeks. But the disappointment I feel is inconsequential in light of the joy I am feeling right now. Jash and I have great plans ahead of us and we are so totally in sync, that we both feel like there is a force within us that’s just pushing us forth. We’re unafraid and taking the risks we stopped ourselves from taking so many times before. I am feeling quiet invincible right now, so it would be a bummer if a boulder fell on my head right now and killed me dead because I am at a point in my life where I understand enough about myself to know that I have always been capable of seeing my dreams through.

It’s so ridiculous how dumb we are when we are younger. We complain about the silliest things and we are so busy whining about our little lives, that we don’t see the magic right in front of our eyes. It’s absolutely beautiful once you open your eyes! I could cry for the younger me for being so emo but I won’t, because I know that it was the perfect spot to be in back then, to get where I am right now.  I can’t help falling in love with life. I was told today by my good friend Vana that I am a romantic. I laughed so hard. I was never a romantic. Ask my sister Shady. I hated men, I hated life, I hated myself, I hated broccoli, I hated school and I’d just hate, hate, hate and hate everything.

I had this idea in my head that our planet is a prison and we’re doomed to suffer through it, without even knowing what we are being convicted for. I think one of the reasons we feel trapped is because society enforces rules that tell you that you have to live a certain way and achieve certain things by a certain age or you’d get labeled a failure. What they won’t tell you, is that your life is like a canvas and you’re the artist. You are allowed to do with it as you please without having to conform to the norms of society (save for being a psychotic murderer which will result in your own destruction). Right now, I constantly have projections of myself twirling in the freedom of my creativity. And I know for a sweet and solid fact that I am making the right decision and that I should quit nursing. I'm leaving it all behind, I'm gone!

Quit nursing! Arkadia has left the building!Image source:

People are always asking me why I want to quit nursing. What’s so bad about nursing? Well..everything..and nothing. It’s an awesomely challenging career and it’s not for the faint at heart. It’s for people that can handle the gruesome reality of life with a smile on their face and a skip in their step. You need to pull out an endless supply of energy from within you to be a supportive and solid force, guiding tormented people back to health or leading them peacefully to death, without losing your mind. I have met such people. They work hard, they put others first, they fight to keep the integrity of nursing in tact despite the many obstacles they are faced with. I would gladly name those nurses here if it weren’t for the fact that I am trying to keep the identity of my hospital quiet. Does that mean I didn’t have what it takes to be like them?

When I first started nursing, I was flooded with emotions and my mind was constantly stimulated. I was learning valuable life lessons. I cried when a patient died. I smiled when a patient got better. But as the years went by, a feeling of indifference began creeping over me and suddenly, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t feeling anything anymore.

I remember an elderly man I had nursed when I was a student. He told me all about his children and how much he loved them and he seemed to glow with pride as he spoke of them. He reminded me so much of my grandfather. Gentle and family orientated. He died that night. I felt like I had lost my own grandfather and I couldn’t bare it. I sat alone in the office and cried the whole night feeling that he had been wronged in some way. I know that as nurses, you grow to accept death as a norm, but recently I lost a patient and felt absolutely nothing. Is it okay to feel nothing? Maybe it’s time I moved on? Can you be a nurse when you can’t feel those basic emotions? Perhaps it’s necessary to become that way for the sake of your own sanity. Despite this, I would never be a sloppy nurse, I always take care to complete my tasks accurately and responsibly, but that feeling of indifference leads me to believe that I have given everything I could give and I have learnt everything I need to learn from this experience.

There are definitely other things about the job that I found frustrating, like the steady decline in the integrity of nursing, the way that nurses are undermined, the political upheaval in this country, the feeling of non-achievement when you have to do the same thing everyday and the general repugnance of the job itself. But all of those things are overcome by the nurse that’s driven by her love for the job. I am not that nurse.

Health care workers are often plagued by the problem of becoming desensitized to the things they deal with on a daily basis. There is a word for that condition but the “word gnome” stole it out of my head. My question is, is that desensitization good for you and your patient? Should you continue in the “caring profession” when you reach that point? I chose not to. I want to feel things, and after making a risky change by quitting nursing, I am feeling again. I am feeling good!
I apologize for the lengthiness of this entry but I thank all two of you that managed to stay with me right up to this point (which I am sure has nothing to do with the fact that you are my unpaid editors). You are loved! 🙂