I have been a nurse now a little over 4 years, which doesn’t in any way place me at a supreme level of nursing knowledge or experience.
I’ll be the first to say I have a lot to learn and that I’m more than happy to learn from new experiences.
As nurses we’ve probably all heard it, or said it. “I’m becoming a nurse because I want to help people.”
We say this doe eyed, with distant stares… possibly viewing our future impact that we can have on said helpless individuals.
We in those moments can’t possibly conceive what it means at the heart of our profession to really help others. We are expected every day to give unto others compassion with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
Of course the first individual to point out the monetary gain of nursing wages, overtime, and bonuses has probably never been a nurse that has been mandated, understaffed, or underappreciated.
Yes, we as nurses do make a decent rate of pay. It is a reflection of the time and effort spent on our education and the cultivation of our skills.
But what we make is often also dependent on the area of our practice. Hospital vs rehabilitation vs working in a doctor’s office, ect.
There is no blanket rate for what we do
And to those who would enter this field with only the need for financial gain, I ask you to read on and ask of yourself if you’re able to make such a commitment.
From where I’m coming from, rehabilitation and long term care are my areas of comfort at this point.
For those of you wondering, rehabilitation is focused normally around patients who are temporarily in need of rehab services- i.e. physical, occupational, speech ect. for the individuals to return to the life they had prior to the occurrences that bring them to our facilities.
Those occurrences range from orthopedic procedures (hip, knee, and shoulder replacements), strokes, general deconditioning, respiratory ailments, cardiac problems…you name it and we can be a catch all for these folks.
Long term care is just that: caring for folks who are unable to be cared for in their home, people who need that extra help each day to promote the quality of their everyday life.
I mostly work in rehab, but I’ve had the pleasure of caring for wonderful long term care patients as well.
The things that come with this job that are positive are the connections we make with these people on a day to day basis.
We are a part of their lives for a period of time and in those instances we have the power to affect them in good way.
Often we may learn from them, whether it is a new dressing we get to change, a new medication we get to look up or perhaps a whole other experience that we get to grow from.
We become friends with patients and their loved ones; someone they can trust or can turn to with questions.
There are a lot of wonderful things that I get to encounter each day and a level of fulfillment that I get from doing my job the best I can.
Then there are bad days
Those days make you question a lot of things about yourself and this chosen profession.
There are the patients who accuse, or ones who are abusive be it verbally or physically.
There are times that you may feel entirely alone on your shift because your support system is less than stellar.
And God forbid that the patient who has been on death’s door dies on your shift…while being a full code.
You may want to cry, you may want to call in, you may want to walk away and flip burgers instead of having to go through one more minute of the hell that you’ve been suffering during your shift.
And really, who could blame you if you did?
But with bad comes good. This job asks a lot of us every day.
It demands that we be respectful in the face of adversity.
That we go out of our way, above and beyond some days to do what our patients need done.
Sometimes it asks so much of us on the job, that we don’t have a lot left when we go home.
It can sometimes rob us of our compassion towards our loved ones, because we just can’t handle anyone else’s needs today when we have ignored our own for so long.
We skip our lunches and perhaps forget to stop to use the restroom. In those moments we have to be aware of what the job is taking away.
Cope with the loss of the patient you admired while at work, and leave it there. Brush off the disagreement you had with your coworker and work through it.
Be open to challenges and conquer them. Learn from mistakes and don’t punish yourself for them.
We work so very hard to be able to do this job and have the opportunity to make an impact on others.
Set goals that are reachable and don’t be disappointed if what you reach for is slightly out of your grasp.
This job is easily romanticized, highly demanding, and difficult depending on the day. It isn’t something everyone can do.
It is also a rewarding challenge, one that I know I have grown from.
I’m thankful every day for the nurses I’ve met along the way, and look forward to many more years doing this.