On Being a "Nurse"
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
Six years ago in the amazon jungles of Peru, I woke up in the middle of the night to see my best friend Katie Kat missing from the top bunk. I was immediately alarmed and ran outside to search for her or help. I found her lying in the dirt, fast asleep, barely conscious, with a high fever. I helped her back to our room where I put her (covered in dirt and mud) in my bed and ran to get cold wash cloths, tylenol, and the doctor. That night one of my friends told me "you should just be a nurse." And I proceeded to list to him the many reasons I would NEVER ever become a nurse.
Yet despite my arguments with God and my friend, six years later here I am celebrating my one year anniversary of hospital nursing. And it's definitely a love/ hate relationship. It's definitely a life-changing job. It's definitely been an adventure in faith and growth.
Here's to night shifts and the drunk feeling you get when you wake up mid day confused. A handshake to caffeine- a great drug to numb the tiredness and the suffering you face in each room. Respect for the sweet NICU babies and chronic children I've taken care of but didn't make it very long. Love and hope for the children who were abused with broken limbs because of their parents, or hemorraging in their heads for being shaken too hard. And finally hugs for the families I've met whose lives suddenly halted when their six year old princess was diagnosed with cancer.
Nursing is so different than I ever imagined it. There's so many stereotypes out there that aren't true in the least.
Everybody thinks the hardest part of nursing is dealing with difficult patients and cleaning up poop and disgusting things. (Which I too think is disgusting!! Being a nurse doesn't mean you like gross things, trust me!)
But nurses are the people that see patient's when they are at the worst, which try to dodge bullets by family members who are suffering through shock. Nurses work in the place where pain, anxiety, and distress are highest. They work whether they have enough staffing, or whether they are pulling too much weight with too many patients.
Nurses are the people that try to care.
They are the people that spend the most time with patients... sometimes with difficult patients, and with too many patients, too much time with patience ;)
Nursing is like a rude alarm in the middle of the night that reminds you that your decisions influence how long
a patient will live and what their future outlook will be. Welcome to the hospital, where you will run your butt in circles round and round- but sometimes it will never be enough not to go to bed thinking about your patient and wondering if you could have done anything different. Welcome to the chaos of responsibility overload- when you have too many patient's- and can't stop to catch your breath.
Welcome to compassion, where you will try to say "I'm sorry" too many times to parents and children that have to be poked. Where you will cover your kiddos in popsicles and stickers and play songs for them, to cover up the fact that they will never see their parents again. Welcome to etiquette and "bedside manner" as you deal with difficult families whose needs never seem to be met. Welcome to special needs, meeting children who will never be normal, but whose parents love them with a love more than words that could be expressed. Welcome to smiling, because you smile and smile and smile, in every room- because even when it's not ok, it's ok if you're a nurse.
Before God asked me to be a nurse, I thought nurses were "basic" and incompetent. I thought they were mean people because they sometimes yelled or forced their patients to do things or gave them shots.
Now, I admire nurses so much, they are my heroes, because I know what they go through. Nurses do their job because they love their patients and sometimes that is so difficult. I've seen so many nurses go home crying because of a families' or doctors harsh words. Nurses often give all the energy, care, and love they can-- and yet sometimes it's not enough to save a patient or receive a thank- you.
Nurses are ranked as one of the highest professions to suffer from depression and anxiety, because of the extreme stress they face in the workforce. Unfortunately because hospitals are tight for money, low on staffing, and low on resources nurses often get the grunt of receiving help for their issues, grievances, and the stressload for many can become intolerable. Unfortunately many nurses get burnt out and can't handle the emotional pain of what they face at work, so they get angry or hardened.
I thought I would never want to be a nurse because you have to listen to what doctors say all the time, and really Who wants to do that? But I never imagined, how much I would actually fall in love with taking care of children.
In nursing there are so many things to learn about plan of care and different diseases and treatment plans. And many nights you spend so much time calling the doctors back and forth to advocate for your patients. You suggest treatment options, and collaborate to develop a plan of care. As a nurse, you spend more time with your patient than anyone else, helping them to trust you, and working to help them solve medical issues. Nursing is so much harder than I ever imagined, but I feel like it helps me grow closer to Jesus as I struggle to help others. Nursing gives me the opportunity to love people in their worst and that is life-changing.
All in all, I can't really describe what it's like to be a nurse. Nurses do so much more than most people realize and I just want to say "thank you" to all the people who are currently nurses or have helped teach me how to be a nurse. There's so many things that I still have to learn about nursing, and so many things I don't know yet. Overall though, even though I don't want to work in the hospital my whole life or maybe even work as a nurse forever, I'm grateful God chose to teach me how to be a nurse. It's been one of the most humbling and rewarding decisions of my lifetime. Until then, when you see a nurse, just say thank you-- because they probably deserve it ;) And guys, I finally did it- I survived one year of hospital nursing on NIGHT SHIFT. GOD IS CRAZY GOOD.