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Diary of a day: Louise, Registered Nurse

Louise Underwood, Registered Nurse at Birth Centre at Richmond Hospital

Richmond Hospital nurse takes us along on her night shift in the Birth Centre

In celebration of Nursing Week, nurses from across Vancouver Coastal Health are taking us along for their shift—giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the important work they do, alongside their interdisciplinary teams, to care for our patients, clients and residents.

For over 12 years, Louise Underwood has been taking care of mothers and newborns at Richmond Hospital's Birth Centre. A Richmond native, she loves getting to work in the very same community where she grew up—providing exceptional care to families during a special time in their lives.

One thing Louise loves about being a nurse is the variety. "I never know what will be waiting for me when I get on shift; I could be looking after postpartum moms and their babies, or doing labour support and helping with delivery, or 'open' and ready to do triage. I like mixing it up and doing a bit of everything!"

Louise recently took us along for one of her night shifts—diarizing her day so we could get a behind-the-scenes look at her role. Here's what she shared:

Louise arriving at work with coffeeLouise starts daily tasks at work Louise with a friend at work Louise loves her colleagues Louise finishes her nightshift as the sun is rising

Getting to work

I'm on my way into my second nightshift, with favourite coffee mug in hand. I tend to drink a lot of coffee to keep me going on nightshifts, and luckily there are many coffee drinkers on my unit so we always have a pot on the go.

I just picked up the shift this morning, and usually don't sleep too well during the day, but today I did. I'm happy I was actually able to have a good sleep today to prepare for the shift ahead of me. It's great to catch a glimpse of the 7pm cheer from the window as I start my shift.

Starting my shift

After signing in and filling up my coffee, I report to the nursing station and then get going. I never know what will be waiting for me when I get on shift. I could be looking after postpartum moms and their babies, or doing labour support and helping with delivery, or open and ready to do triage. Tonight, I was assigned to a patient going immediately into the OR for an emergency C-section.

One of our daily tasks at the Birth Centre is to make sure every room is ready for a delivery, including checking our infant care centres which we keep on hand in case  neonatal resuscitation at birth is needed. Acuity can change very quickly in labour and delivery, so even though we hope we don't have to use it, we make sure it is ready to go.

During my shift

During a typical shift I could be doing anything from providing one-to-one labour support for a patient just about to give birth, teaching new parents how to change a diaper or give a baby bath, or helping in a C-section, and sometimes all of the above!

One of the best things about my work is the friendships I have made here. Gina and I became friends instantly, and I was honoured when she asked me to support her during her labour with her first baby. I love having the knowledge and skills to help support someone through labour, but it's even better when I get to share it with my friends. Over the years I have been able to support a few of my close friends through their labours, and it is always such a privilege to be included in their experience!

My colleagues

Another top reason why I love my job at the Birth Centre is the team! We have such an amazing group of people working here at Richmond. I can't say enough about how caring and supportive everyone is.  I miss being able to give them all hugs and high-fives in this time of physical distancing — for now, we'll make do with foot bumps!

I've not only developed great relationships with the nursing and medical staff, but also with the auxiliary, housekeeping and other hospital staff here. It's something I have never experienced working at a larger hospital. The power of our teamwork is reflected in the great care we provide to our patients. 

End of shift

Even after nursing for 15 years, I find that I still struggle with nightshifts, especially between 3 and 5 a.m. So my favourite part of nightshift is seeing the sky lighten before dawn, and if I can, I will try to catch a glimpse of it from the window of one of my favourite rooms. With COVID-19, there have been lots of changes and even more happening every day. We're so grateful for the community support we've received — from donated lunches to 3D-printed mask clips. I think we are all learning a lot about ourselves, our jobs and our communities during this time, and I for one love seeing all the positives that are happening around us!

Follow along on social media

Be sure to check out our Nursing Week campaign at @vchhealthcare on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as we profile new nurses across the regions every week during the month of May! 

SOURCE: Diary of a day: Louise, Registered Nurse ( )
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