By Christina Giruzzi

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State Senator Maureen Walsh recently made the suggestion that nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day” on the senate floor while considering a bill that would allow nurses to get mandatory, uninterrupted meal and rest breaks. There has been a lot of backlash towards Walsh that has pushed for her to shadow a nurse for a day.

The cardiothoracic intensive care unit, or CTICU is a unit that cares for patients after any type of surgery that involves the heart or lungs. At Rochester General Hospital, the CTICU is a 12-bed unit that acts as a recovery unit. Registered nurses are expected to work 12-hour shifts and care for two to three patients every day.

Registered nurse, Jenna Lehrer has worked in the CTICU since graduating from St. John Fisher College 8 years ago. Lehrer decided to attend nursing school after spending time there when her mother was sick.

“[I thought] nursing seems cool, you can help people, but I feel like that was a very naïve perspective.” Said Lehrer.

Lehrer shared her experiences in the CTICU, from the hardest days to the reasons why she stays.

“I think we have some down time at work but it’s necessary because you’re killing yourself nearly every other moment. We have fun at work but it’s also very serious and you kind of need that balance in order to survive such a tough place,” Said Lehrer.

Lehrer works full time in the CTICU and fully intends on staying in the unit. Although the work is hard and the days are long, Lehrer says the connections she’s made in that unit with both patients and coworkers are some she’s not sure she could find elsewhere.

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