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Posted Feb 14 2010 12:00am

Stephanie Jewett, RN, MBA

          As you recall from yesterday’s post, this is an interview with Jill Schaben, RN, BSN, and intensive care nurse at Nebraska Medical Center.  I’ve tried to ask her some specific questions as it relates to her job and hopefully these answers will address some of your questions as nursing students, trained RNs and registered nurses that may be considering a move into this specialized field.

Q  How long have you been an intensive care nurse?

A  For about two years.  

Q  What is the biggest stress as it relates to your job? 

A  Probably maintaining the balance between doctors orders, talking to the family and actually coordinating care that the doctor orders.  

Q  What types of equipment do you use on a daily basis in the ICU? 

A  IV poles, ventilators, facial bipap machines, arterial lines for arterial pressure, cardiac monitors which display O2 sat and heart rhythm, code carts and catheters.  

Q  Why did you pick this specialized field for your nursing career? 

A  When I was in my nursing rotation, I liked the high intensity pressure and tend to do well under stress.  Seeing patients coming from almost dying to getting them in another setting is so rewarding.  

Q  Is Nebraska Medical Center a teaching hospital?  Do you host residents and interns?  Do they come from all over, including Creighton University which is located in Omaha? 

A  Nebraska Medical Center is a teaching setting and we have both residents and interns.  Some of these are also from Creighton.  

Q  What school did you attend and do you hold a RN or BSN degree and how long did it take? 

A  BSN and I went to St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.  It took 4 years with summers off.  

Q  Did you have further education or were you trained on the job?  How long did the training last? 

Jill Schaben, RN, BSN

A  I was trained on the job and the orientation class lasted once a week for 12 weeks and then with a preceptor on the floor for 3 months.  We had to get BLS and ACLS certifications and I took the option of getting my oncology certification.  

Q  Do you receive a higher rate of pay than your peers on regular medical floors? 

A  Yes, but probably not more than 2-3 dollars  per hour.  Because of the certifications we have to keep up with, our yearly salaries are typically above my peers.  

Q  What are your hours? 

A  We work 12 hour shifts at the Nebraska Medical Center and it is a day-night rotating schedule.  In a four week period I work three night shifts and three weekend shifts.  

Q  How do you get away from the stress after work?  In particular, what hobbies do you have? 

A  I travel quite a bit.  I just went for a long weekend to Steamboat Springs, Co. to ski.  I like to read and go out with friends.  In the summer I go outside to exercise.  

Q  How do you prevent burn-out on the job?  Is it really stressful dealing with death so often?  How often do you deal with a patient dying? 

A  We go in spurts and it is hard when anyone dies.  I try to schedule myself with some flexibility; in other words we self schedule and I feel that I have time off when I need it.  We have excellent team work on our floor and if you are not afraid to ask for help when you are overly busy, that tends to help a lot.  

Q  What would you say is the biggest challenge for someone considering going into this field? 

A  You need to understand that it is a lot of book work while in school and once you have your RN and are able to work, you need to learn whatever specialty you are going to get into all over again.  It takes a lot of time learning specialized fields and one needs to understand that 12 hours can turn into 14 hours and sometimes longer.  You must have patience, because it does get better.  

Q  Do you have any other suggestions for a new graduate or a trained nurse that wants to work with critically ill patients? 

A  Spending time on a med-surg floor with patients would certainly help and you really need to analyze how you are under pressure.  You need to be quick on your toes, because things change faster in our field than they do in any other field.

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