Captain Elizabeth A. Hoettels is a 2005 graduate of the VCU School of Nursing’s accelerated bachelor’s program. She is currently serving a tour of duty with the United States Air Force Nurse Corps in Iraq. We got a note from her recently:
It is exhausting. We are busy for hours. I do not mind working, but putting in 120% everyday is exhausting. So all I want to do when I come home is sleep. Just remember finals week and make it for 1/2 a year. That is what I equate it to.
We take care of infant to elderly – host national, contractor, U.S. military, etc. If they are ICU patients, we will take care of them.
Now I was freaked during Peds [in nursing school] and it has not gotten much easier. My saving grace back then was my clinical instructor – Ms. Taylor – she gave me at least the adolescents (which some argue are harder, but they did not scare me as much). However, here I have no option. I have to do Peds. I am learning – trial by fire. It is not as scary the more I do it, just sadder.
My worst day was when a 2-year-old girl was brought in after a rocket exploded in her house. She had irreversible brain damage. I had to provide comfort care for her. I was a wreck. My saving grace was the pediatrician. He stayed with me the entire time to help. Basically I sat with her until she died. It still makes me cry every time I start talking about it. My Chief Nurse was great – she sat and hugged me until I stopped crying. She is one of the most wonderful people I have met to date in the military. She takes care of patients AND staff. But I digress. We take care of everyone.
We have been really busy lately. By the time I get home I go and swim and then crash. This is the daily routine. Thirteen three-hour shifts are killing me – no time for recovery either. I know – I signed up for this – totally volunteer. I am still tired.
beth in icu redux.jpg

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