Well, another Nurses Week has passed without me wearing my cap! This year it was only because I did not work through the week, thank goodness!
I would wear it tonight, but for the fact that my hairdresser decided that a mullet would be the thing for summer and decided I should have one. Stand back, Billy Ray Cyrus! Okay, it isn’t that bad, but I’m not a happy camper.
I did want to thank all those who read and commented on my Nurses Week post from February! Some great comments were left this week by both new and current readers! You can find them here.
I spent last weekend up at the University of Portland, watching my oldest daughter receive her Masters of Arts in Teaching. It was a very intense year and I am extremely proud of her.
Portland is such a beautiful campus. We figured out that 15 family members have graduated with their BA or MA from the University, with more family members entering this fall.
Who knows, perhaps this is where I will receive my MSN, provided I get my BSN before I’m 100!
I was also fortunate enough watch the University of Portland School of Nursing graduate one hundred and seventy nine new nurses with their BSN degree and six with their MSN as Clinical Nurse Leaders.
I didn’t know a single one of them, but I felt as proud as the mother of one of the MSN recipients who sat in front of me.
It was an impressive sight.
I literally had goosebumps as the entire School of Nursing stood and applauded until their last classmate had walked across the stage.
The enthusiasm of these men and women, the pride with which they accepted their diplomas – this is what makes me want to become a nursing educator. It’s the same attitude I find in the blogs of nursing students. It’s what spurred me to go back for my BSN – the excitement of learning, the appreciation for the opportunity to be a nurse.
Sometimes it is easy to lose track of those things in the day-to-day environment of the hospital.
So to the new nursing class(es) of 2008, I would say:
* Your first year will be the most difficult as you acclimate to your new role as a professional nurse. Hang in there! Keep your focus on why you went into nursing to begin with.
* Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch the nurses around you. You will be surrounded by role models. Take the best of what see and incorporate it into your own practice. It may be hard to believe, but by the time the next class enters the profession YOU will be the role model they look up to.
* Ask questions. Ask a lot of them. Keep asking “Why?”. This will keep you learning every day. I still do it after 30 years. Don’t take symptoms or lab values or behavior at face value. Find out “why”.
* Don’t let yourself get cynical or burnt out. Don’t work so much that you are exhausted on your days off. Work what you need to work to get by – keep overtime to a minimum. Yes, the money is nice but so is your mental health. Nursing is hard, demanding work. You need your “downtime” to recharge.
* Speaking of cynical or burnt out, you will work with nurses who suffer from both. Don’t let their attitude bring you down. (And I hereby apologize to all those nurses who had to work with me when I was suffering from both those maladies). You will feel the same on occasion, but keep in mind that “this, too, shall pass”. It does.
* You are professional nurses! Don’t let anyone treat you like a housemaid, a slave, an underling, or anything other than the educated, professional people that you are. Don’t accept the status quo. Don’t accept that things “have always been done this way”. Don’t accept stupid water bottles with hospital logos on them.
* Please, please remember that you practice nursing and not medicine. The professions are complimentary, not identical. Should a patient refer to you as “Doctor”, let them know you are a registered nurse. Act like the consummate professional, and you will find that the doctors will treat you accordingly. Those who don’t have a problem. You do not.
* Tell everyone what you do! Promote the profession! Encourage young people to consider nursing. Explain the difference between nursing and medicine to those who are confused.
And finally, there will be days when you leave work exhausted, emotionally drained and aching from head to toe, wondering “What the hell was I thinking?”
On those days remember that you made a difference in someone’s life.
Because you are a nurse.
Congratulations to the Nursing Class of 2008. I’m proud to call you “colleague”.