The days of Florence Nightingale are long past. Some might argue that we really haven’t come that far. I beg to differ. As with all things in this life, “You get out of it what you put in it.” It’s the same with Nursing. My oldest daughter, Jordan, has graduated, studied and passed her board exams, and will be a “working girl” bright and early, this Monday morning, July 20, 2015. This is just a smidgen of my thoughts as she starts her new life of healing.
Jordan…I have done so many things in my life; things I’m very proud of doing, and things I’d rather forget. I’m sure we all feel that way from time to time…you will too, my precious daughter. I believe you can conquer the world. The absolute greatest thing I’ve ever done, is raise you and your sister. Pride is not sufficient to describe how I feel about both of you.
I know I’ve told you how much I love you, and what your mere existence means to me, over and over and over, again. And, I know you know it. So instead of repeating all of that, this is just a short message to tell you things about life as a nurse, which may come in handy from time to time, should you think back on it during your career.
To my utter surprise, horror, and delight, you have chosen to follow my footsteps into the world of nursing. Why? I will never know. You’ve got the book smarts and your savvy personality going for you, but take note to what lies ahead. I know you are ready! I raised a strong, vibrant, and self-assured woman. I know you can do this, and do it well!
Healing: It’s the worst and best thing you can do. I’ll explain…
For obvious reasons, it’s a nasty job (at least as a mom, the butt you are cleaning is your child’s, and not that of a complete stranger). You just do it.
It’s hard, grueling, and weary work. It will tax your very soul and push you to your limits. But, you do it.
You are expected to care for others at the expense of your own biological needs…food, water, bathroom time, and so on. Forsaking these essentials, your body adapts and you do it.
You’re expected to stand silent while an irate family member takes their sadness and frustration, or grief, out on you. They are frightened, upset, and control has been stripped from them. Remember that! Silent, you must remain…So, you do it.
You must stand stoic as you listen to stories of ‘bad nurses’ while you’re dying to correct everyone and say, “But I’m not like that! I’m a good nurse.” Yes, there are bad nurses…bad teachers, bad doctors, bad lawyers, and on and on. Strive to be the best at your craft. Do that, and you can lay your head down at night and sleep well. Again, you remain silent. You just do it.
You’ll have to work nights, weekends, holidays, and overtime, away from your family and friends because the sick don’t know your plans, time tables, or about your date this weekend…they just know they are sick. They need you. So, you do it.
You touch things, suction things, wipe up things, and dodge all other gross things the average person doesn’t realize can come from the human body. You are exposed to every cold, flu, and disease known and unknown to man. This comes with the job. You wash your hands and just do it.
You may work with mean, overbearing doctors or surgeons, or the bitchy, ego-manacle nurse out to make your life a living hell. Every hospital has them. You don’t engage…you just do it.
You’re always at risk for being spit on, scratched/hit/kicked, verbally harassed, yelled at, and the subject of name calling. Be professional, NEVER retaliate, hold your head high, don’t engage, and just do the job.
You will never earn what you are worth. This is FACT! The pay scale doesn’t go that high. You just show up, do your best, and leave your work at the hospital. Peace comes in the home you’ve created. And knowing that, you set your alarm, and do it all over again, tomorrow.
Sounds pretty bad, huh?
Healing: It’s also the most rewarding and wonderful thing you will ever do…
When you talk to and touch your patient for the first time, you become their advocate, their voice, their protector, their healer. And try as you may to distance yourself from the personal aspect of the job, they become a part of your life. That’s OK…just remember, “You can’t save the world, just the patient in front of you, hopefully.” So, you do it.
When your patient is sick, unconscious, drugged or anesthetized, you are their tether to this world. You protect their privacy, their dignity, and their life at all costs. You, my precious daughter, are all they have in this world. Do this above all else.
You are their confidant when they feel the need to confess. You are their shoulder when they need to let go, and wail against the disease that ravages them. You are their substitute family when none can be found, or none are able to be there. You be there for them.
You are the sounding board for your patient’s family and friends when they can’t accept, comprehend, or digest the situation or prognosis. You are their translator, their shoulder, their connection to something human and compassionate. Be human.
You can cry when you lose a patient…you have a beautiful soul, and it’s OK to do just that! The day you stop feeling is the day you shouldn’t be a nurse any longer. Go ahead, be human and do it.
Remember to TOUCH your patient…WITHOUT GLOVES! That’s what soap and water is for. There is nothing that is more compassionate and healing than simple HUMAN TOUCH. That, in and of itself, will heal far more than all the medications in the world. Trust me lovey…do it!
You will be a maid, a grunt, an errand boy, an advocate, a protector, a confidant, and a healer…the mind, body, and soul of your patient is in your caring hands. Take all this to heart. You are quite often the first, and many times the last face your patient will see. Smile, and show them the caring and compassion you give away so freely.
You are a nurse!
So, as you embark on your first day of your BIG GIRL job, I want you to remember the most important thing I can teach you with regards to being a nurse…
TREAT EVERY PATIENT AS THOUGH YOU ARE CARING FOR ME!
If you do this, you’ll be the best nurse in the world, because I KNOW how much you love me.
Go out there and just do it, JORDAN GRACE FULKS, R.N.
With All the Love and Pride in My Heart,
P.S. Welcome to the Jungle…
I mean sisterhood!