My name is Paul Shutter and I am a graduate of D’Youville College Nursing program class of 2016. I obtained my BSN while attending D’Youville College and am currently a registered nurse in the cardiac intensive care unit at Tampa General Hospital. In my time at Tampa General Hospital I have also worked in complex medicine prior to beginning my career in the intensive care unit. I am involved on the board of my units shared governance committee, I am the health and wellness ambassador for my unit, I actively work with the nursing clinical education department to facilitate new graduate nurses through the nurse residency program at Tampa General, and I aid the clinical education department with the orientation of newly hired staff.
The patient population that I work with at Tampa General ranges from many different cardiac diagnoses from heart failure, different types of arrhythmias, post cardiac arrest in hospital, post cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, pre-cardiac surgery, transplant patients both pre/post, and patients requiring modalities. Modalities are different specialty interventions for patients that require more focused nursing care, such as: patients with an intra-aortic balloon pump, on hypothermia protocol post cardiac arrest, on continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT), and ventricular assist device.
What I love most about my role is having the ability to provide more focused nursing care to more critically ill patients and having the ability to provide more focused education to the cardiac patient population. There’s never a typical shift in critical care, even when being assigned the same patients for three nights in a row, each night can be different from the next in terms of goals of care and plan of care. At any moment anything can happen that requires focus and most importantly team work.
The challenging aspect that arises from this all lies in the complexity of the patient population that I work with. Tampa General Hospital is a nationally recognized level I trauma center, because of this, we work with the sickest of the sick. As well, being a teaching hospital we have a doctor for every specialty and it is the nurses job to coordinate the various specialties and critical care teams to ensure that the patient is receiving safe and effective care that meets the goals of the patient. Another aspect of my job that is difficult is the emotional aspect of what an ICU nurse does. Some days you get to watch your patient improve and either transfer out of the ICU or even better go directly home. Other nights, however, you’re with a family as their loved one deteriorates through the night but a silver lining in that is that I have the privilege of helping a life onto it’s next journey.
When I first graduated I moved to Florida the next day. I took the first two weeks after graduation to get settled into my move and to rejoice the fact that I have one last nursing exam left! After two weeks, I buckled down and began to prepare for the NCLEX. What worked for me was utilizing ATI practice tests and the Kaplan NCLEX book that came with a section that describes the exam, how to prepare you to answer different question styles, and the most important part a bunch of questions. On test eve I spent the day by the pool and just relaxed. On test day I woke up with plenty of rest and in a positive mental state. All the way up until I hit question 75 I was as confident as can be, but then… Once the exam shut off after 75 questions, like my fellow colleagues, I believed that I had failed the exam. After you take the exam, go and relax, don’t stress over it, it’s out of your hands!
When starting your last semester at D’Youville, for one, be excited! You’re so close! Secondly, enjoy your clinical internship experience and take every moment in and embrace every opportunity you can get exposed to. No question is a bad question, no request is a bad request. If you want to do or see something, say something. Show your excitement, show your desire to learn and experience, the universe will answer back and you’ll have a great experience. Lastly, try and expose yourself to where you envision the start of your nursing career going, but at the same time, remember to be flexible, nursing is in fact about being flexible and having the ability to adapt to change at any moment.
One thing I know now that wish I knew while attending school was to not stress as much about the exams, papers, and care plans. There’s a method to the madness and its all in preparation to become an awesome D’Youville grad!
Paul Shutter, BSN, RN
Coronary Intensive Care Unit