Have you ever worked a dirty, disgusting job? In truth, the words ‘dirty’ and ‘disgusting’ are relative to the person actually working those jobs. What is disgusting to one person is just a chore that needs doing to another.
Dirty jobs of a nurse:
Removing fecal impaction
Emptying bed pans isn’t fun, but it’s a necessary part of the job. Sometimes nurses have to do jobs that are unpleasant for both the patient and the nurse. For instance, if a patient hasn’t had a bowel movement in a long time, and laxatives and enemas haven’t been successful, the nurse may have to glove up and go into the patient’s rectal vault and remove the stool digitally. Removing an impaction takes patience and skill. Once you start removing the impaction, the first thing you will notice is the feel of the warm stool on your gloved hand. The next thing you will notice is the smell. The smell can be so bad that it can trigger your gag reflex, if you aren’t used to dealing with a patient’s waste products. Though, digital fecal impaction removal can be uncomfortable for the patient to endure, the end result is that the impaction is cleared and the patient’s colon can work properly again.
Debridement of a necrotic wound may look and smell a lot worse than it actually is. If you have never done this before, you will probably need to watch it being done by another nurse or health care professional before you try it. Wound debridement isn’t usually painful to the patient because you are removing dead tissue. If the nerve endings are not alive, the patient won’t feel any pain. Wound debridement is necessary to remove the dead tissue so that an open wound can begin to heal.
Cleaning up after sick and incontinent patients
Nurses have to develop an iron stomach. They may work all morning elbow deep in excrement and body fluids and then go to lunch for 30 minutes, and come back to more of the same when necessary. Some patients are so sick that they cannot get out of bed to use the bathroom to relieve themselves, or go to the toilet to throw up when nauseated. Many patients come back from surgery extremely nauseated from the anesthesia. As a nurse, you must become desensitized to the sight and smell of a patient’s vomitus.
Working in the delivery room
Childbirth is a beautiful thing, but it can be very shocking for the fledgling nurse who has never witnessed birthing in the delivery room. While birthing in the delivery room can be a very positive experience, it can still be a messy one. This nurse nearly fainted the first time she witnessed an episiotomy being done by the doctor. Hearing the snip was enough to make the legs go weak. Of course, after the delivery of the baby has occurred, the nurse, nursing tech, or orderly must begin the cleanup of the delivery room to get it disinfected for the next delivery. You always expect the unexpected when you work the delivery room. Everything can go smoothly, and then all hell can break loose and you might be covered in blood and other bodily fluids.
Colostomy patients have an opening in their abdomen to allow for fecal contents to exit the body. The colostomy bag should be emptied or changed by the time the bag is half to three-fourths full. If you happen to be a little late emptying or changing a colostomy bag, the contents can splatter on you.
If you can think of more dirty nursing jobs, feel free to add them in the comment section.