Are You Ready? Travel Nurse Dealing with Patient Death

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By Hiep Nguyen

August 6, 2019



Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? Travel Nurse Dealing with Patient Death

As a travel nurse, you are going to deal with patient death no matter where you go or what assignment you take.  It is taught to you throughout nursing school, how will you handle it when it happens to you?

Six minutes of V-Tach.

There’s a rush of controlled chaos—so many bodies running from all corners. I don’t know what exactly is happening, but I know what to do. I’ve seen it before. On television, never in real life. All the training was for a moment like this. Years with my head in books. Countless simulations testing my knowledge and skills. I am ready.

Five alarms.

Everything so loud. Machines yelling with panic. Every bell and whistle can be heard echoing throughout the hall. Voices so kind and gentle being carried by the most respected lips. The rush can be heard from fluids being pushed. The painful cracking of ribs. A high-pitched charge. A uniform two steps back from everyone. A jerk of a quiet body.

Four white coats mumbling to each other.

One jovial, one concerned, one stoic, one idealist. Such a range of personalities. There are the ones barking orders. One is mixing medications—one flexing their muscles. I see beads of sweat falling rhythmically onto the floor.  I see the quiet movement of switching positions. A group of mentally tired walking out. A new group of bright hope walks in.

Three family members holding each other.

The oldest one crying, absorbing the pain. They know too much. One much younger, confused, and disoriented. Grasping at every word being whispered. Touching every tear being dropped. The youngest, innocent and pure, wondering beyond her understanding. The strength holding this family together is slowly being ripped away from them. Fifteen feet away, they are watching the family falling apart.

Two feelings.

One wants to break down. They cannot fathom what happens next. One wants to stand firm. Push and persevere. One wants to make a joke. Laugh and increase morale. One wants to cry. Let it out and be consoled. One is confused, trying to decide what to do next. Another is arrogant, attempting to think of everything to do. One is an optimist. They want to believe in miracles. One is a realist. They see the unfavorable outcome.

One very long flat line.

Everything becomes inaudible. No one moves, no one speaks. We all listen to the desolate tone that reverberates throughout the room. For a moment, we all stand together in silence for the departed. The next moment, one by one, footsteps as quiet as a mouse leave the room. Shoulders heavy with shame and hearts weighed down by failure. Heads are held high, not with courage though. But because its 10:38am. Because there are more sick and dying people. Because the day doesn’t stop for death nor crying nor prayers. All this training was for a moment like this. Years with my head in books. Countless simulations testing my knowledge and skills. I am not ready for this.

As a travel nursing dealing with patient death is a whole new level. How do you handle patient death as a travel nurse? Comment below and tell us.

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