A very important nursing skill

28 July, 2013 § Leave a comment

Prepping for my daily caffeine bolus

Prepping for my daily caffeine bolus

One of the most important skills that a nurse can have is the ability to put together a quality cup of coffee.  Okay, I know what you are thinking:

Anthony, this is a a very bad stereotype.  People already believe that Nurses just get coffee for the Doctor!

Please people, I am not talking about getting coffee for a Doc, they can get their own coffee from one of those $0.50 machines where the coffee comes out tasting like cheese.  Besides, I am not sure if they can handle my nurses brew.

I am talking about making a good cup or three of coffee to power us through our day.  We can not afford to get that end of shift slump like our office faring brethren, no it is usually near the end of shift that we must be our most alert or Murphy’s law will ensure we are there long past our punch out time.

I have a Keurig for when I need that emergency cup STAT, but truthfully I love the coffee that comes out of my French Press.   The Keurig is nice but it is almost blasphemous, but when coffee is needed immediately we must improvise. My press is nothing fancy.  I picked it up from my local grocery store for about $20 and it works great; the end result really is all in the coffee and the water anyway.

So how do I make a kick ass cup of coffee  for my first caffeine bolus?  Well it is slightly labor intensive, but we are nurses, we are no stranger to putting in some work and we know that anything worth doing is worth doing right or we are just going to have to do it again.

I start with a darker roast coffee, usually French Roast (I swear there is no theme here between my French Roast coffee and my French press) and make a coarse grind.  I have a grinder at home but it needs to be retired and produces grounds that clog the filter, so I buy whole beans at the store and then grind it there.  Yes, you lose some flavor this way and that sucks but it is better than the stuff that has been ground already.  Either put out the money to buy a really good grinder or, if you are like me and go through a pound pretty quickly, just grind it coarse at the store.

So I have my ground coffee, I heat 28 ounces of water on the stove (that is where the water meets top band) and bring it to a boil.  Once it boils I remove it from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to bring it to about 200 degrees. This is the temperature you want the water to be at, so if you have a way of bringing it to that and knowing the temperature, then go for it, I do not so I just give it a few minutes to cool down once it starts to boil.

Meanwhile, I add 2 scoops of grounds for every 6 ounces of water and I will usually add an extra scoop because I like my coffee strong.  Add the hot water, stir with a wooden spoon or chopsticks, and put the lid on with the plunger up.  Now walk away for 4 minutes and allow it to steep.

Tick tock tick tock.

After those 4 agonizing minutes, slowly depress the plunger and then poor that first delicious cup of coffee.  I also add a bit of sweetened condensed milk because it makes coffee awesome.  I learned this from some Vietnamese friends and the Vietnamese got it from when they were a French colony (okay fine, I see the French theme too).

The whole process takes about 10 minutes and the end result is a better cup of coffee than what you will get from your drip coffee maker and most certainly better than your Keurig.

This goodness flows through my veins.

This goodness flows through my veins.

Now all you have to do is pour it into your to-go cup or sit for a few minutes and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  There is something about the process that is zen like and calms my mind to prepare for the day ahead.  And then the resultant coffee amps my brain up.  I am a nurse and zen gardens and sand rakes can only last so long before it is replaced by a brain that processes a metric ton of information and acts in seconds.

I promise that you will not regret making your coffee this way.



Back in action

24 July, 2013 § Leave a comment

No, no this blog has not died already.  The thing about being a nurse and a blogger is that being a nurse does not always lend itself to blogging.  Last pay period I worked 114 hours, the period before that 90 hours and the one before that, 99 hours.  Yeah long hours are often a part of the life of a nurse and after 114 hours sleep comes easily while blogging does not.

Never fear.  I have a few posts in the works and a few days off.  Thanks for sticking around.


Stress relief and burnout

7 July, 2013 § Leave a comment

Source: nursetogether.com

Source: nursetogether.com

I have not fallen off of the face of the earth, although I have fallen off of the face of the earth’s of everyone I know.  One thing that I love about nursing is that if you need extra dough you can always pick up an extra shift or two or three.  That same perk is also the downside to nursing.  Since healthcare facilities are open 24 hours and we need to ensure that those hours are staffed in order to provide care for the patients, sometimes it is also necessary that you pick up extra hours.  These past few weeks, with nurses going on vacation, I have been picking up some extra shifts and going into overtime and so any free moment I have had I have used it to spend with my family and to sleep.  The last pay period I worked 20 extra hours, which is not very hard considering I often schedule myself to work 2245-1200.  This pay period I will have worked about one extra shift in overtime.  Needless to say, blogging was not something I had the energy to do, let alone time to do it.

With working all of those hours, some of them the NOC shift, people have asked me “how in the world do you do that?”.  I have never really thought about how I get through long shifts or how I deal with working long shifts and overtime because for as long as I can remember I have always been scheduled to do something and kept a tight schedule.  When I received my first degree in Psychology at Marymount University in Arlington, I was always involved in the happenings of the campus, kept at least one part time job and held a course load of 15-18 credits.  Many times my days started at 0700 and ended at 2200 and I enjoyed it that way because I like having something to do.  During my nursing school at RACC I worked full-time during the day and took the evening/night program in order to get my ADN in Nursing to become an RN.  Schedules like this are just something that I have always done.

With this type of grueling schedule, and I am not the only nurse that works long hours and for long stretches in a row, it is imperative that we find ways to decompress and not let the stress get to us so that we can avoid burnout.  Going to the shooting range (when ammo prices are not so high), reading, sleeping…please allow me to say that again, sleeping is crucial to keeping me energized and avoiding burnout, watching a little TV, and spending time with my family are all things I do that help me to decompress and beat the stress.  There are other things too that can be done; meditation, exercise, sports, and other hobbies outside of work all help.  Humor plays a huge role in stress relief for me.

For more tips visit the following websites and then let me know in the comments section what you do to beat stress.

Advance for Nurses

Stress Busters from Scrubs Mag

Nursing Stress Relief on Pinterest

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