August 20, 2006, 1:55 pm

Keep The Fire Burnin’


This is not a painting.

It is an actual photograph taken by my son from the back porch of our family farm in northern California.

Life is slow up there.

Peaceful. Quiet; the plaintive whistle of the train echoing through the town across the highway.

It’s a great place to relax, unwind and change gears.

The cable doesn’t cross the highway so we only get three channels on the old TV, and even then only two of them are clear.

If I stay up there long enough, it takes me at least a week to get back into “city mode”.

It has saved my sanity many times.


Sometimes I feel as though health care is like a siphon.

Somebody sticks a hose in your psyche and drains you dry.

You give and give and give and give.

Each patient gets something. Your care, your empathy, your energy.


Eventually, you feel as though the gauge is past empty, the light is flashing.

Emotionally you are sputtering and gasping your way just a little farther down the highway.

You can’t go any further and you shut down.

They call it “burn-out”.


I think everyone goes through burn-out, at least once.

It takes a bit of time to find your limits.

The best way to deal with burn out is to build your “farm” before it hits.

You need a sanctuary.

It need not be a physical place, but you need to have something outside of work that ignites your passion.

No, I’m not talking about Orlando Bloom (well, yes I am, but he isn’t available).

It could be a hobby, a sport, politics, music, personal time (shopping, anyone?).

It’s anything that you can do that allows you to recoup all that you have given during and for your work with patients.


Ironically, my passion turned out to be writing about my profession!

It started out as a fun new thing to try and has turned into something that keeps me excited and interested in what I do as a nurse.

Now, two blogs later, I’m looking to write a book series!

But it isn’t just a newfound, previously untapped love of writing that makes it so helpful to me, personally.

It’s the health-related blogosphere itself.

It’s learning about new specialties, seeing life through the eyes of doctors, patients and my nurse colleagues.

It’s finding my love and excitement for nursing re-kindled by reading about nursing students who are working so hard and juggling so many different responsibilities to be able to do what I sometimes take for granted after all these years.

Every single blog on my sidebar (and a few who I still have to put up) keeps me emotionally connected with why I went into nursing in the first place.

And reminds me, even after a hellacious string of non-stop Emergency Department nights, why I’m still willing to keep on doing what I was called to do so long ago.

I felt that this week, the occasion of the 100th posting of Grand Rounds was the perfect time to reflect, and thank, those who so wonderfully keep the medical/nursing/patient blogosphere a haven and a great place to hang out.

Thanks for being my “farm” when I can’t get to the real thing.


  • Intelinurse2b

    August 20, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    I went to college for a few years at Humbolt U. I ived on a mountain just north of Eureka w/ my crazy, pot smoking Aunt (a nursing prof at Hum U). Aside from the overdose of tree huggers, I fell in love with Northern CA. I discovered my love of Birkenstocks and co-op grocery stores during those years in college. I would move back in a heartbeat if I wasn’t freaked out about falling into the Pacific when the “big one” hits…lol

    I am flattered that you enjoy our posts so much and that they keep your “fire” burning. Those who refresh will they themselves be refreshed. You refresh so many of us. Thanks Kim and burn, baby, burn.

  • Annemiek

    August 21, 2006 at 4:34 am

    What a beautiful picture. I love your posts and would love to see a book by you!

  • dr peg

    August 22, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Kim – Do the book! Absolutely! It’ll be literary hotcakes!


  • rdl

    August 23, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Beautiful picture and great post. can totally relate to the “burn out” been and Ophthalmic technician for over 20 yrs. now. Orlando Bloom would definitely help but as you say writing is a great outlet.

  • rdl

    August 23, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Beautiful picture/great post. I’ve been in the medical field (ophthalmic technician) for over 20 years and can totally relate to the burn out. Orlando Bloom would definitely help but as you say writing is helpful too.

  • That Girl

    August 24, 2006 at 6:22 am

    If it makes you feel any better, Orlando does not play for your team.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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