8 nursing lessons from Breaking Bad

Stories - SkullI’m going to go out on a limb here and make some connections between lessons in nursing – and lessons from Breaking Bad! You might say nursing is definitely not the same as dealing in drugs – but is that true? Let’s see if the forces at work in Breaking Bad can give us some insights into our own work!

1. Be a Faithful Mentor. When Jesse started working with Walt, Jesse was terrible. Walt, though, was a great mentor. He gave Jesse constant insights and support. As a result, Jesse was able to rival Walt’s meth-making skills! As nurses, we can do well to maintain patience for newbies and share our knowledge.

2. Don’t Compromise Boundaries. Remember when Walt and Jesse had the run-in with Tuco out in the landfill? Wouldn’t things have worked out so much better had they met in a safe, public place like the mall? By maintaining boundaries and being aware of your setting, nurses can avoid bad situations.

3. Ask Questions. Think of Skyler, Walt’s wife. She was great at asking questions. She didn’t turn a blind eye to inconsistencies or things she didn’t quite understand. As a result, she was able to end up protecting herself and her kids. Same thing for nurses – we ask everybody questions so we can protect the patient AND ourselves.

4. Safety First. One of the first lessons Walt taught Jesse was wearing personal protective equipment! Jesse dismissed it as silly, but soon came to realize its importance. Nurses need to approach our work the same way – always stay safe, always follow precautions, and make sure others do so too!

5. Don’t Work Yourself to Death. A lot of people died in Breaking Bad. A lot. And what were they doing? Working – trying to make money. Was it worth dying for? No! Although our work is not as life-threatening as dealing drugs, we should always keep a good work-life balance. Avoid frequent doubles, and give yourself time to unwind. Don’t work yourself to death!

6. Don’t Be Afraid of Career Pivots. In the end, Walt’s decision to ‘switch careers’ was for one reason: because he wanted to, and he loved the ‘work.’ If you don’t love what you’re doing – pivot! Don’t like the hospital? Get into home health! Feel like you’re always doing the same old thing? Try Pediatrics, Psych, or Maternity, Camp nursing, Cruise Ship nursing, or Travel nursing to name a few. Nursing is so flexible! Don’t be afraid to explore.

7. Never Make The Same Mistake Twice. This is the somber advice Gus Fring gave to Walt when he had him over for dinner. Gus, as Walt’s employer, was understanding of mistakes – as long as he didn’t repeat them. We should always make sure to correct our practices when we learn about improved and updated guidelines!

8. Have A Sense of Humor. Amidst all the unpleasantries and suspense, there was always one character who kept his sense of humor: Saul (“better call Saul!”). He also happened to be one of the few characters who had a happy ending! No matter how bad our job gets, or how crazy people are acting, don’t let it ruin your life and keep your sense of humor!

Kevin is the President of Brilliant Nurse. He does not recommend nor encourage anyone to practice in criminal acts or entering the Methamphetamine industry!

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