Sunday, September 25, 2011

I am going to copy some very long text from the book A Call to Nursing. It's an essay by Juliette As Dols, RN. I found that the sentiments echoed mine exactly, and that I expect my experience in nursing will be similar to what is laid out here. If you know anyone who the healthcare field, do them a favor and share this with them.

So you jump. You tell yourself, I want something different, something more. I want to do and be more. And you jump. You don't know where your feet will land, how the terrain will look, what each  passerby will say or do or want. You know that you are following this urge inside you; you believe it comes from your soul, God nudging you on your way. Different people call it different things. To you, it's something you can't ignore, so you listen. You quit your job, you go into debt, you hang up your dress pants and shirts, you put aside your travels, and you say good-bye to what you know. And then you land.....where? I'm still not sure.....

Suddenly you enter a culture of authority, of rigidity, of ways of doing things that are decades old. Many of your future work colleagues are your mother's or your grandmother's age. Even the "young" have been in the field for 20 years. They're tired, hardened, and burned out, and they ask you why of all careers you chose this one. For a few moments, maybe more, you ask yourself the same thing. You walk down halls where people don't speak to each other, where titles can mean everything, where patients become subjects. You spend hours with a patient and wonder if those who write the orders even listen or read your input; you know they don't acknowledge you when they enter the patient's room. You watch physicians and nurses, all clinicians, dance around a patient: they pour out their own opinions, they do their job as they were taught-they write orders, they take orders, they chart and chart and chart. And the patient lies there questioning, What is this dance? In the center is a person who relies on you, hopeful that these people will get together enough so that he or she can return home without complications.

You leave your clinical rotation and go to school. You know your teachers mean well. They want bright, competent nurses-clinicians that will help save lives. Many are supportive, encouraging, inspiring. There are others who seem to believe, as they were likely taught, that they have to break you down to see what you're worth, to make you tough.

And then you take a moment and breathe. You take in all that you've given up, that you've learned, that you've gained. You remind yourself that, if you were looking for a picnic, you should have selected a field where daily headlines don't mention crises; the nursing shortage, the increasing demands and decreasing patient satisfaction, the underserved, the uninsured - the list could go on and and. If you wanted to believe that life is always sweet and rosy, maybe you should have avoided caring for a 13-year old boy brain-dead from cardiact arrest, or carrying a stillborn baby to a grieving mother so she could seek closure from her loss.

You finally get honest, you take a deep breath, and you transcend. You return to that urge inside of you and you remind yourself that if you truly want to fuel change, you go where the need is greatest. You know you've been accused of being idealistic. You've been told you'll burn out too, just like the rest. You feel yourself getting tired as you try not to succumb to the status quo that surrounds you. You know that your vision looks different from how things currently are, and you wonder if you've really got what it takes to actually change anything, however small. You have no idea what lies ahead of you, what surprises exist, but you believe and hope that things can be different.

You continue to listen to that urge inside you; you look to your soul, to God. You smile as you think about where you've been and what you've learned. You recognize what gives you strength and you begin to hoard it. You're going to need it. You start to find humor in this backwards culture. You begin to see peace in loss. You start to recognize hope in sickness, in death. You begin to rebuild your confidence and feel good about what you do, about who you are and what you are becoming.....

So you jumped. You pick yourself up and regain your balance. You look around and realize that what you see is life, true life. you could have stayed in a safe place where everyone looks and acts the same, where people go away when ill and return when well. But you decided to see life exposed. You realize that life is people. It's you and the stranger next to you. It's both beautiful and ugly. It's chaos. it's order. It's happiness, sadness, love, and suffering. Life is egos and greed. Life is selflessness. Life is sickness. Life is miracles.....

You jumped. You pick yourself up. You laugh. You cry. You live.

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