I feel so blessed by my nursing career and what it has allowed me to become (A Healed Healer). I offer up this post in gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving. I hope that you find some treasure in it that may serve your life in a positive way.
Nursing school is set-up to prepare nurses to take care of and guide patients. Nursing school gives nurses the skills and experiences in simulated and live environments to become master observers and assessors. Teaching students to be able to pick up on the obvious and subtle queues in hopes to prevent or stop a patient’s condition from going from bad to worse. This is no small task.
My introduction to the medical world first came from my father who was a physician and my mom who was a nurse. My parents divorced and eventually both remarried. Between them, were three physicians and a nurse. I got to see so much about health care.
I did not set out to become a nurse but decided after graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in exercise science that becoming a nurse would provide me with both opportunity and flexibility which were important to me, because someday I wanted to have a family.
Coming from a lineage of health care practitioners, I thought I would breeze through nursing school having had so much exposure to the medical world as well as my degree in exercise science. It turns out, my assumptions were way off base.
Nursing school was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I ate, drank, and slept nursing school. My entire focus was learning as much as possible so I could graduate and start practicing. The irony is, nursing school is essentially a big stress fest. I suppose in a way, it is just preparing nurses for the stressors of the job.
I wish there was a way to make nursing school less stressful. I don’t believe people learn as much when they are stressed out. I can remember many stressful times during my time in nursing school, that involved both stress from the classroom wondering if I would ever be able to remember everything and the fear of harming a patient during clinicals.
One such event sticks in my mind like it was yesterday, it involved skills lab and learning to give intramuscular injections.
My lab partner was absolutely petrified of giving shots. She demonstrated beautifully for me, how not to give an injection. As I sat waiting for her to inject my thigh with sterile saline, it was obvious she was terrified. The fear was palpable in her facial expression and guarded body posture. This made me feel very anxious. She would reach toward my thigh, acting as if she was going to give me the injection, and would then freakout and pull back. I remember saying to her, “really, you have to just do it” and all the while I was thinking, you can not do this to a real person, because they would run away from you! That was a great lesson for me about the importance of body language and the importance of exuding confidence in front of your patients, even if you are frightened to death. In reflection, this is actually funny to me now, but at the time it was stressful for both of us.
I feel like I received a wonderful nursing education and after practicing nursing for seventeen years, I can say with confidence that there are three crucial lessons that nursing school did not teach me that would have been really nice to know.
Effective Communication Is the Cornerstone of Great Care
Effective communication is the cornerstone of good care. As patient advocates, a nurse absolutely must know how to communicate effectively and with ease. As they say, communication is everything. Effective communication involves both the written and spoken word and can mean the difference between life and death. A nurse must be able to communicate effectively with every person on the care team; but most importantly, their patients.
The Importance of Good Self-Care and Setting Boundaries
Nurses must be aware of the importance of setting and practicing firm boundaries and the necessity of practicing routine self-care. When a nurse has firm boundaries they are protecting their own health and not allowing external circumstances or people change how they care for themselves. Firm boundaries are also a crucial part of healthy communication with others. Nurses with firm boundaries demonstrate self-respect and when treated disrespectfully will respectfully communicate to anyone who is stepping over that boundary that they are doing so and will not engage with them when they are treating you in such a way. When nurses have weak boundaries it makes everything harder, especially making self-care a priority. Nurses are by nature, givers and sometimes prefer to give than receive. To navigate a career in nursing, that ensures the health and wellness of mind, body, and spirit, you must be willing to receive care for yourself and have firm boundaries.
A Nurse’s Job is Not to Fix People
As a nurse, it is not your job to “fix” people. Rather, the nurse’s role is to hold the space for patients to heal by reminding them that they have the capacity to heal and that nurses can help guide them. Caring for patients is stressful as it is and carrying the burden that it is the nurse’s job to fix patients sets nurses up for disappointment and feelings of failure. Nurses are guides and role models. The more nurses can model healthful living, the better it is for all.
Life is about the journey, not the destination. I have been a registered nurse for seventeen years and I have just come to the realization that I am far more than a nurse, I am a healer. I believe that a healer is a practitioner who poetically weaves evidence based science and compassionate care into the journey of a person’s life without so much as a second thought. I believe a healer also models a lifestyle that is holistic in nature and understands the interconnectedness of emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing. Living in such a way acts as a mirror for what others can do to optimize their own vitality.
This revelation or stroke of insight came from life experience and my own healing journey. I feel my journey may have been easier had I started out knowing these three lessons, but I also believe that we learn the lesson we need when we are ready. Either way, I feel blessed.
I wish only the best for you on your life journey. Remember that you already possess exactly what you need to thrive, sometimes you just need a gentle reminder.
What has your nursing school experience been like? What lesson has life taught you that school could not?
Peace and abundance,