Modern Nurses: Audio/Video Girl

Digital Microscope ink on paper 2016 by Julianna Paradisi

Digital Microscope ink on paper 2016 by Julianna Paradisi

Preparing materials for tumor conferences is part of my role as an oncology nurse navigator. It involves, among other responsibilities, reviewing the cases, printing copies of the agenda for the attendees, managing the sign-in rosters, and providing updated lists of available clinical trials. It also requires powering on the projector, the screen, and setting up the digital microscope necessary for the pathologist and radiologist to project slides of the tumor cells, and the MRI or Cat can images on the large screen for discussion.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I’ve become Audio/Video Girl. Other nurses of my generation will appreciate the humor in this.

Does any one remember watching film strips and movies in grade school classrooms? Did your hand shoot up when the teacher asked for volunteers to set up and run the projector? Mine did, but it was always a boy who was chosen. Eventually, I stopped raising my hand.

Years later when I became a pediatric intensive care nurse, I discovered an aptitude for tubes and wires, or rather I learned to get one fast. The ability to troubleshoot a ventilator until a respiratory therapist could fix it became handy too. I realized the level of skill I’d developed when as a single mom I set up my stereo system (you who grew up with bluetooth streaming have no idea how easy you have it), and a desk top computer with printer/fax using a dial-up modem. In case you are to young to know, we could not use our computers and phones at the time in those days.

I digress.

Learning to set up the electronic equipment for tumor conference was a lot like how I learned almost everything as a nurse: someone showed me how to do it once, and then I was on my own. However, as mentioned, I have developed an aptitude for technology: during the demonstration I snapped pictures of the wire connections with my phone, creating a visual reference guide to use later.

I was anxious the first time I set up by myself. While lifting the digital microscope which I imagine costs a hefty portion of my annual salary from its cart to the conference table, I distracted myself from my fear of dropping it by imagining twenty doctors staring at me because it didn’t work. Tumor conference would be a disaster if I failed..

The microscope and projector worked. Relieved, I glanced at the doctors, men and women, seated around the table. Some of the male faces resembled grown up versions of the boys in grade school my teachers chose to run the projectors. Some of them probably drive cars electronically more complex than the audio video equipment I had just set up.

To be clear, I am treated respectfully as part of the multidisciplinary team at tumor conference. I’m proud to be part of this valuable service offered to our patients. I am happy with my life choices. However, I wonder what might be different if girls were chosen equally with boys to run the projectors when I was young?





Learn and Live

Hawthorne Bridge photo: jparadisi 2012

American Heart Association, are you messing with me?

I was a wee bambina sitting at the dinner table the first time I heard the acronym CPR. My father, a volunteer firefighter for the small town where we lived, certified that afternoon. I remember him saying, “It’s a terrible thing to need to do, but everyone should know how to do it,” and his words are true. Everyone should know CPR.

I got my first CPR card in high school, recerting off and on until becoming a nurse. Now, I recert (renew) every two years. All hospitals I have worked for in two different states require Registered Nurses to have current BLS certification. There is no grace period. If the card expires, the nurse cannot return to work until he or she has renewed their certification.

I love The Heart, however, few things swizzle an experienced nurse’s placid pool of confidence more than CPR recertification, aka, BLS (Basic Life Support). I know this, because I renewed my card last week. Everyone in the class expressed anxiety. Anxiety occurs because, every two years, we have to relearn breath to compression ratios, and how many compressions per minute. For one rescuer or two? Is the victim an adult or a child? The ratios are different for each. And what the hell is that little rhyme you’re supposed to repeat while changing positions with the other rescuer because you’re getting chest pains yourself from the exertion of doing (how many, again?) chest compressions? Don’t forget, you’re trying to save a person’s life while doing this.

Our instructor assured us changes occur only every five years, but it seems different every time. Not only for staff I work with: once, I was running behind two women runners on the Hawthorne Bridge, and overheard them talking about CPR, and how confusing all the numbers are to remember. I sprinted to them, asked if they were nurses. They were. We ran together for a while, commiserating over this albatross of our working lives.

So you can imagine my chagrin, last week when our instructors explained the changing numbers confuses so many health care professionals and lay people, they were not even attempting CPR outside of hospitals, for fear of doing it wrong. This led the AHA to research hands-only CPR. They found:

• Hands-Only CPR (CPR with just chest compressions) has been proven to be as effective as CPR with breaths in treating adult cardiac arrest victims.
• The American Heart Association has recommended Hands-Only CPR for adults since 2008.
As of June 2011

I support the American Heart Association listening to our concerns. I applaud its continual research, which saves lives. Everyone should know CPR.

All the same, does this mean, these past twenty-five years I’ve been a nurse, whether it was one or two breaths between compressions has never really mattered?

American Heart Association, are you just messing with me?

To find a BLS/CPR class near you, click on this link.