Wow! Some days it feels like I've been a nurse forever and other days I feel like it was just yesterday that I started! It has been nine months exactly since I started working as a RN. It's everything I hoped it would be and more. I learn something new each and every day. On my drive home from work I feel like my head might explode with all of the information that I am continually trying to process and store in my long term memory..and then there's also the things I try to forget!
I wish I could share all of the experiences I've had so far, the good, the bad, the ugly, the horrifying, the enlightening, the blessings, the tears, the laughter...there's so much I've seen already and I'm just getting started. There's many great things about being a nurse but I'll just share a few of them! Although not necessarily in the order of most important to least important...just simply listed as they come to my never ending mind and thought process!
One of the greatest things about nursing is the fact that I'm not alone! :D This is one of the single most greatest aspects of the health care field and something I am so appreciative of with the people I work with. There's nights where I get bombarded and feel pretty certain I've just been set up to fail. The greatest thing is, I just take a deep breath, assess the situation, come up with a plan of action, and ask for help! I don't think there's ever been a time where I felt I was drowning and didn't have a lifeline right there for me to grab a hold of. Everyone is willing to drop what they're doing to come and assist you at the blink of an eye. If I could give one piece of advice to a new nurse (or any nurse really) is that it's never a sign of failure to ask for help! If you need help, ask for it. There's absolutely no shame in saying, "hey, I'm overwhelmed and could really use a hand!" That's why it's called collaborative care." I love how Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines collaborate, "to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor". Utilize every resource to the best of your ability and never be embarrassed when you need help. There comes a time when everyone needs assistance and we all need to be willing to lend a hand whenever we can!
The second greatest thing is the impact we nurses are able to make on our patients. Some of our patients we're with for all three days, others we see for a mere hour or so...either way each encounter is an opportunity to make an impact in that persons life. But in reality its the patients that make the impact on us. We learn from our experiences how to relate to our patients. Our patients teach us. They tell us everything that we need to know...the only thing we need to do is listen. They tell us if they're feeling worse, they tell us if something just, "isn't right", they tell us if they're in pain (some like to remind us more than others). They put their health in our hands and trust us to advocate for them. If they need something we're the ones that communicate their needs...we are their voice...when they're in a vulnerable situation and they have to trust in people they've never met before to help them get better...they trust us and they tell us what we need to know.
Another great thing is how our patients change us. I've met people who have every excuse in the world to give up and call it quits, and it's normally those people who show me that they have everything to be thankful for. They're still alive. They're still breathing. I have met some of the most selfless people and I'm so fortunate to say that I've cared for them and been changed because of them. I wish all of my patients that find joy in complaining about little things, for instance, on nights when there's a new admit at three in the morning and the roommate is complaining because they're never going to get to sleep with such noise going on. I wish those patients could meet the person that has cancer and their prognosis is bleak, yet, they can still find the joys in being able to be woken up in the middle of the night...because that means they're still alive. I wish everyone could meet the person who is so excited because they can finally wiggle their toes after weeks of not being able to feel anything. Each person changes us. Each experience gives me a new perspective on life. Every morning I walk out of work I take a deep breath and I give thanks to God that I had the chance to make a difference, and that I had the strength, health, and resources to make it through another night.
Alright, so let me wrap this up before it turns into the next best-selling novel ;) I think one of the most exciting things about being a nurse is learning how to stand up for yourself. Not every patient is a fairytale story. Some really like to put you through the ringer. Some like to test you and like to push you around. An important aspect of nursing is being able to tell your patients that you demand respect. As one of the nurses says when she is being cussed at, "I am not your 'F' word. I will not listen to you speak to me like that, and if this continues I will call security"! There's never an excuse to treat someone like they're dirt. I am typically timid and will put up with crap...but I've learned to stand my ground. It's funny because I was talking with one of the nurses at work and we were saying how we realized that we've taken our new found confidence into our personal lives as well. Meaning we're less likely now to put up with people's shenanigans. We're not the pushovers we used to be. We've learned that it's okay to set boundaries and to tell someone they're over stepping their grounds and they need to take a few steps back!
There's never a dull moment in nursing. The things people do to themselves, the lessons we learn along the way. The continuing education...There's so much more, but that's all for now. I mean, honestly, where does the time go? So I will leave you with this little cartoon. I'd like to say it's an exaggeration, but uh, I'd be lying because I've had patients in frighteningly similar situations, but that's another story for another time!