I am writing this piece as another international nurse week comes to a close. It is a Beneath the Stitches but in a different way. Beneath my day job as a perioperative nurse, and no not just a nurse but a nurse with many years of training and many skills. So I thought something different for you all to read about.
Nurses are amazing people and international nurses week celebrates this. Nurses care. Nurses are the front line of health care. We are the number one source of caring, competent, compassionate care. The work we do makes a real difference in our patient’s lives. How did I get so lucky to do something that I love doing?
Being a nurse isn’t for everyone and so often I get told – I couldn’t do that. Nurses work all times of the day, they work weekends and public holidays. They don’t expect any different.
Every day presents me with new challenges and the opportunity to overcome them. My growth and development are only limited by my desires and my willingness.
I am not “just a nurse”. I work really hard at what I do but how many people really know what that is. Nurses are a united force that spends each of their working days advocating for each other, yet they fail to advocate for themselves. Like most nurses I have walked into my house and snapped at my family. I have sat in my car and cried at the end of a shift. I have never wanted to go back and yet I do.
I am so polite when people ask me about my job, and then they say that they could never do that or they don’t know how I do it. Some day I don’t know how I do it either. I work with so amazing people who give with every part of their heart. They see what they do as a calling or a privilege. My job is to make people feel better.
I miss breaks, I can’t always get to the toilet so I have a full bladder, or I might not have time to drink and then I am dehydrated and I stay on as there is no one else. You often hear nurses being praised for this behaviour. Sometimes it is unavoidable and other times it is unacceptable. When you look below the surface there is fatigue, bullying, and horizontal violence. Some days you cope and others you do not.
I discuss pathophysiology of a condition and make a plan with the surgeon or doctor involved in the care of that patient. We plan a course of treatment. Doctors don’t talk down to me, we discuss things together. This helps me assemble my day. I plan for all courses of action the straight forward plan and the what ifs. I need to be prepared for all outcomes. That is where I am not just a trained monkey. Not anyone can do what I do. They need to training and they need to know what to do just in case. It might be a minor thing or a major thing. Patients rely on those split second moments and they trust that everything will be okay.
I want to maintain a patient’s dignity through many other intimate moments that a doctor isn’t there for. I see new babies and I see treatments and cures to illnesses every day. I marvel at the changes in medicine each day at work. I try not to become complacent or take it for granted. It is amazing. Yes, I sometimes do gross things involving body fluids but mostly I do things I love. I aim to make each day a better day for the patients that have had bad news or treat them in a way that makes them feel that bit special. You can’t teach that.
The other nurses I work with shape who I am and I hope I shape the other nurses that I work with. Together we all become a better nurse for our patients.
To all the nurses in my life
For the laughter
For the tears
For teaching me
For comforting me