A Day at Work: Registered Nurse

A registered nurse walks us through a day in his life taking care of patients.
By Ellen Nam
smiling nurse

Eddie Rhee is a registered nurse (RN) who works in the intensive-care unit at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. He works only three shifts a week, but each shift is more than 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to around 7:30 p.m. 

“I try to get there a bit early, to settle in,” Rhee told Your Hot Job. Then he’s assigned two or three patients whom he’ll take care of during his shift. He coordinates with the night-shift nurse who was looking after these patients before his arrival. “We both go in together to make sure we’re on the same page,” Rhee says.

Rhee conducts a full assessment of each patient. He checks their vitals, such as pulse, blood pressure, and lab work results. After making sure each patient is in stable condition, he monitors them for any changes that happen during his shift. “Depending on a patient’s condition, we usually check in every 15 minutes to every hour, to see if there are any changes or if there’s anything they need.”

At around 11 a.m, Rhee joins other medical professionals to conduct rounds. The group consists of doctors, social workers, and other nurses. The group visits each patient. “We’re making sure we’re doing the right thing, and that other hospital staff who need to be involved can get involved.”

During his shift, Rhee balances managing patients and administering medication. Part of his job is to understand his patients. “Nurses are with their patients for more than 12 hours a day,” he says. “So you get to know them and how they react to certain things.”

To end his shift, Rhee makes sure all documents are up-to-date and has a change-of-shift meeting with the night-shift nurse who will take his place.

To be a great nurse, you need a sense of responsibility. “You have someone else’s life in your hands,” Rhee says. Patience and compassion are important attributes of nursing, too. “You need to love what you do,” Rhee says. “For the patients in the hospital, it’s not anyone’s high moment in life. So I try to get them to smile, at least during my shift.”