Academic Master


Informational Interview

Brook Murray knows firsthand what the fidelity of the profession is. She has been working for 40 years in the NY Regional Oncology Dispensary, 32 of whom she was an operating medical nurse; now, she is the elder sister in the operation unit.

How did you become interested in this field of work?

I became interested in this field, and I chose this profession because I have wanted to help people since childhood.

How did s/he enter the field? What type of education and training did they have and where: on the job, in school, in training programs, etc?

There were no nurses in the family, but one case made me think about linking my life with medicine. In high school, I came to see a surgeon. Handsome, confident, but tired, he told me: “Do not you think about going to the medical, and even the surgeon after school, work is very difficult.” I was more impressed than frightened, and I decided that the nursing profession is interesting.

I firmly decided to go to the medical institute, but family circumstances developed – my father fell ill – and I had to part with the dream of studying and going to work. A year later, I entered medical school, studied at an oncology dispensary, and worked as a nurse in the operating room. When I received the diploma, I was faced with the fact that there was no distribution to the dispensary, and I really wanted to stay here, because a young team, familiar nurses. By coincidence, one operating sister left, and I was offered her place, and I did not hesitate to stay. She did not regret her decision once, and I’ve been working here for 40 years.

What are the specific duties of the job? What kinds of skills are needed?

It may seem that the work of the nurse is mechanical – to carry out the surgeon’s commands: “Clamp!”, “Tweezers!”. In fact, you need to learn all the stages of the operation in order to prepare the necessary tools in time to give them to the doctor so that he does not wait, did not check, or is in his hands. It does not seem to be difficult, but it is necessary to submit the instrument correctly. It is very important to work with a surgeon; all the characters are different, and some are quieter and more potent, and this needs to be understood. Best of all, when the doctor and nurse work in a well-coordinated tandem, one understands each other from a half-word, sometimes even a glance is enough. The ideal operation is in complete silence. The nurse has a great responsibility; it is no accident that her duties include strict counting of napkins and tools. It’s hard to spend your working day on your feet.

Operations follow one after another; each can take several hours. Sometimes, when the interventions are very long, for example, liver resections, pancreas, sisters changing each other since it is very difficult to stand for eight hours. At the same time, the medical team is the only one, and the surgeons and anesthesiologists do not have replacements. I understood this tried to make it easier for them, and for this to work, it must be clear and fast. I remember the operation in which it was difficult for me: in the 80s, a patient with a blood clot in the inferior vena cava came to see us; he was to be removed by an invited vascular surgeon from the regional hospital. I was never present at such an operation, and even with an unfamiliar doctor, it is much harder to work, but when I was thanked after completing this doctor, I realized that I had coped.

What is the labour market in this line of work? Are there openings very often or does it appear to a closed field that is very difficult to break into?

There is a need to change the legal and professional status of a nurse. The system of interaction between a doctor and a nurse that has been formed in our country does not correspond to the needs of modern high-tech healthcare, which requires deepening nursing training and expanding the level of professional competence and independence. Until recently, nursing education did not provide opportunities for a career or the realization of creative potential: those who wanted to get higher education left the profession. The situation began to change since past two decades, when for the first time in the US were established faculties of higher nursing Medical Academies. Now, there are more opportunities for nurses in our country, and there are more frequent openings for the nursing profession.

Did you certainly find yourself in a situation where you, an experienced nurse, had to stand on an operation with a young doctor, yesterday’s graduates of the medical institute?

Naturally, the beginning doctor does not feel completely confident, it is important to support, cheer, everyone understands that professionalism comes with experience. In the oncology dispensary, a large flow of young people – come to our internship and residency for a year or two. You already forget them, but they remember you; they will meet you on the street – they say hello. Some of those who visited us during their student years then arranged to work at our institution. For example, David Brown, now, unfortunately, the deceased, as a student, came to us for practice. He considered me very strict because I constantly had to pull out the youth: “Do not go there, there’s a sterility zone”, etc. Then, when he became a doctor at the oncology dispensary, we worked well together and found a common language.

What do you like best about what you do?

The nursing profession brings me satisfaction from the fact that I can help people.

What do you like least about what you do?

Never a thought!” Even now, when the age is not the same, there are a lot of operations, new technologies are emerging, and responsibility is increasing. I can say not only from my own experience but also from the experience of my colleagues that work is delayed. Most of the newcomers are doubtful: the profession of an operating nurse may seem hard for them, but it’s worth working a little – and you do not want to change it. Yes, at first, it is very difficult morally because patients with serious illnesses get to the operating table. I want to believe that they will be all right; removing the tumour will allow them to live on. Despite the fact that my work does not involve caring for patients, I try to encourage and support, to give the person with the right attitude.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?

Not everyone can become a nurse; we have a lot of people who come to work, but not all endure. I often go to college; I ask young people: where would you like to work? In dentistry, they say, in cosmetology. I do not agree with this: I rather recommend that it is necessary to start the path in the profession from a hospital or from a polyclinic. In the soul of a nurse, there must be kindness and compassion for the other. If she cannot understand what pain and loneliness are, she does not belong in the profession.



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