Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets of Nursing, Part Five: We wouldn't do anything else.

No, really. For all the bitching and complaining and wondering why Manglement and patients so often treat us like something the cat dragged in, we wouldn't do anything else.

It's actually pretty simple: we do what nobody else is willing to do. We do what nobody else *can* do, really; the weak ones get left behind and the stupid ones mostly wash out early on in their careers. Being a nurse is challenging, mentally and emotionally. It requires that you understand every system of the body in a way that specialists often don't, and recognize how all those systems interact. It necessitates the ability to reach the person inside the patient.

Sometimes you're the nurse. Sometimes you do nothing but run numbers and replete fluids. Sometimes you're also the lactation consultant, the woman who reassures the teenager that *everybody* gets her period on the day of admission, the person who, though thirty years younger than the patient, tells that patient without blushing or stammering that yes, sex is possible even after neck surgery. You're the person who flies through awful freezing rain in a helicopter, keeping your patient calm, even though you don't know if you're going to be landing in a controlled fashion. You're the person who not only knows the various ways to save somebody else's life, but also how to comfort those left behind.

It's been a tough week for me, personally and professionally. The combination of work-related and personal-life events have left me with nightmares, anxiety coiled like a serpent in the pit of my stomach, and no appetite for anything but beer. I've rerun things I've done over and over, wondering if something different I could've done would've made a difference in outcomes.

Yet, with all of that, I can say honestly that nursing is the one part of my life that I have not fucked up. That dedication to honesty, a clear ethical standard, a measurable good outcome, is what keeps me punching in in the face of Manglement's initiatives and my own personal doubts.

I would not do anything else. It's the last, biggest dirty secret of nursing: I love my job, like we all do, and I cannot imagine saying "I'm a nurse" with anything but a quiet swelling of pride.


Lisa G said...

What a great series of posts this has been. Truly. Even at my most burnt out, I never wanted to leave nursing.

bdaiss said...

And the smart ones (er, patients) say "Thank you". So - THANK YOU!

And for the rest I leave you this: "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

bobbie said...

Amen ~~

Anonymous said...

Just graduated. summa, BSN
studying for NCLEX
this post made me cry.

love you Jo!


messymimi said...

You did the best you could with the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual knowledge and strength you had available at the moment.

Thank you for all you do.

It's just me :) said...

I can't say it enough. I love your posts. They are so honest and you write in a way that really speaks to your readers (at least to me). It is so nice to see that even though there are some really tough times, nursing is something that you still continue to love.

Unknown said...


Rachedy said...

Loved the series! Thanks.

L said...

Hi, what a great series you've written about the dirty little secrets of nursing. Confronting and out there. And oh so true!!! I don't feel so alone now. Nursing can be very stressful and demanding on all levels. Its good to read how it is for another who also understands and glad I stumbled across your blog.

Mike M. said...

Well said..

Unknown said...

I'm half-way through nursing school...feeling so beat up, and questioning why they hell I chose this field. Thanks to your posts I feel reassured and remember why I got into this in the first place. Thank you for restoration of hope.

danielle said...

Kaiser Permanente - for which I do NOT work - has had the greatest ad on the radio for nurse appreciation that I want to tape and play over and over....the one part that really cracks me up, when asking why a person wants to be a nurse, is "...the glamour of day to day encounters with a wide variety of bodily fluids is too much to resist"!!!!

Anonymous said...

You are fantastic. I just stumbled on your blog today and am really enjoying it.

It's true - the worst day of the worst, there isn't anything different I'd rather do.

Thanks for your words.