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Why I Love Being a HICU Nurse

From time to time, Huntsman Cancer Institute invites guest commentary from our community. The views reflected in these commentaries are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Sherry Huang standing outside HCI
Sherry Huang stands outside HCI on one of her first days as a HICU nurse.

A few days ago, I realized it had been one year since I started my very first shift as a nurse at the Huntsman Intensive Care Unit (HICU). So I decided to make a list of reasons why I love my job (and honestly I got a little bit emotional about it):

  1. I have the most supportive, encouraging, kind, and helpful coworkers, who have made my first year as an RN 2 HICU nurse a positive experience.
  2. We have THE BEST patient population. I have met some of the strongest, nicest, and most charitable people here. Oftentimes my patients and their family members help me want to be a better person.
  3. The hospital leaders want to get to know their staff. They are involved and they care about us. We have amazing leaders in our nursing director, nurse managers, nurse educators, and others.
  4. I get to work with some of the smartest, most brilliant people I know. My coworkers are so intelligent, wise, meticulous, and thorough, yet they are also humble and understanding. I have so much respect for each of them.
  5. There are so many educational opportunities for nurses at Huntsman Cancer Institute. At first it was overwhelming, but now I have grown to appreciate all the chances I have to learn more.
  6. I love our unit culture. It definitely contradicts the stereotypical ICU culture. Everyone is chill, down to earth, helpful, and fun.
  7. We get to choose our assignment every shift and my coworkers are so good about letting people take easier or harder assignments based on that person’s needs or circumstances.
  8. It’s a great place to develop and increase your skill set: CRRT, ultrasound IVs, being on the code team, etc.
  9. Patient-centered care is a huge focus in the unit and hospital and my coworkers are INCREDIBLE examples—they have hearts of gold and go above and beyond basic nursing tasks to help their patients. I know colleagues who have massaged patients’ feet, braided their hair, played songs for them on the violin, and took the time to really get to know and love the patients and their families. My coworkers lead by example and motivate me to be a more loving, empathetic, and devoted nurse.
  10. Questions are encouraged and well received and everyone is willing to teach and learn. Mistakes and accidents are understood and my coworkers are empathetic, but they also give criticism in the most constructive and uplifting way. They never shame or belittle, which makes me feel safe at work.
  11. It has been a taxing job mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve definitely had my times of exhaustion and breakdowns and periods of burnout. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever cried more than I have since I started working in the HICU. But not all those tears have been sad tears—so many have also been tears of joy! I’ve cried with family members as their loved ones passed, but I’ve also cried because my patients got extubated successfully. This job has stretched me emotionally and although it has been taxing, it is so fulfilling and rewarding.

The first year has been quite a ride and I’ve learned so much. I love the HICU team and our patients and I’m so grateful to work here.

Cancer touches all of us.