The problem was, the woman lived 90 minutes away on an Indian reservation, and the hospital there wasn’t equipped to perform a C-section.
“When they called us from the reservation, they said she had probably lost about a liter of blood at home and another liter at the hospital,” Rachael recalls. “I was surprised the baby was actually alive when she got to the hospital.”
The mother arrived by helicopter and Rachael began closely monitoring the baby’s condition. Suddenly, she discovered that the baby’s heart rate had changed.
“I noticed a condition called sinusoidal rhythm, which is really rare. I’d only seen in it books,” Rachael explains. “It usually means that the baby is anemic and will die. I called the doctor, and he was there in five minutes. We had the baby out in ten.”
Upon performing the C-section, the doctor and nurses noticed that the placenta had abrupted, putting the baby at serious risk. Had Rachael not noticed the sinusoidal rhythm and called the doctor, the baby wouldn’t have made it.
“She spent maybe an hour in the newborn ICU and then went home with her parents,” Rachael recalls. “Even though it was a really terrible situation, it’s really cool when you make a difference and save lives.”
Rachael, who became a labor and delivery nurse after spending 10 years as a scrub tech in the unit, says she enjoys caring for babies and then handing them to their parents to take home and not worrying about them. Since she’s unable to have children herself, travel nursing allows her the opportunity to help others throughout the country and experience sites she wouldn’t have otherwise.
“When I went on assignment to Baltimore with my friend, we did three shifts in a row each week. On our days off, we went all the way to upstate New York and Boston and down to Virginia and D.C.,” Rachael expresses. “In Alaska, we went dogsledding and saw the Northern Lights. I never would have had the opportunity to do any of that if I had stayed at home.”
Rachael recommends travel nurses develop great people skills and critical thinking skills before embarking on a travel nursing assignment and says the best part is developing relationships with doctors and staff and knowing that working together helped save another person’s life.
“Even though some situations were awful at the time, when you look back on it, there were so many people who came in to help,” Rachael says. “When you hear good things from the doctors and the other staff, it’s great to feel that way.”
Got a great story to tell about your experience as a travel nurse? Share it with us in the comments!