You have made a choice to join the club – the nurse club. You have worked excruciatingly hard through school and passed your boards, in fact, you’re probably on top of the world. You may have already passed orientation and started taking your own patients. Although you’re scared, you are motivated and passionate and you love the life you are creating for yourself. Then there comes a point where you begin to question you choices.
It may even happen in your first week. You come home so exhausted after your 12-hour shift and you are asleep before nine, questioning whether or not you can do it again tomorrow. Your significant other may be frustrated with you and ask why you are not how you used to be, you know – how you were before becoming a nurse. Actually, you will probably barely remember yourself before becoming a nurse. This is all normal, it will pass, and you’ll be okay.
You have chosen a career, unlike any other. You will try to explain what you do to people outside of the club and no matter what you say they will not get it. Eventually, you will become so exhausted explaining, you’ll just stop trying. No words can explain the feeling of turning off intravenous medications that are supporting a heartbeat. No words can explain the rush and relief of restarting a heartbeat again. No words can describe the deep interconnection you have with your patients in their best and worst moments. You will not remember them all, but you will carry them with you forever and you’ll be okay.
There will be tears. You will sit in your car and cry before driving home. But, you will grow close to your co-workers, really close. No matter where you move or what you do, the bond you have with your nurse friends will withstand the test of time. They will be there for you in your best and worst moments, no questions asked. This is all part of the club. You will grow stronger too. Your skin will become thicker, just don’t let it become so thick that you can’t feel the love from a hug or the warmth of the sunshine on a perfect day. However, either way, you will make it be okay.
Some days being a nurse can feel isolating, miserable, and exhausting. You will undoubtedly be under appreciated. But, the days you question whether or not you have made the right career move, will be balanced by miracles, and saves, and nights when you leave knowing you changed the course of a life – few can say this.
You are not a saint, you are not a nun, you are not a sex symbol, you do not work for free, and this may not have been your calling, but there is a reason you are a nurse, conscious or unconscious. This is a club of mostly wounded healers – it takes someone who has experienced brokenness, to know how to heal brokenness. You probably do not come from a seamless background. Maybe your parents are broken, or your relationship is broken, or you have cared for a suffering friend, or been a victim of racism, sexism, or any kind of hate in this world. This is why you know how to interpret, anticipate, and heal pain, because you have experienced it. This is why you know how to love deeper and hope more than the average person. This is why you are so, uniquely, special, and this is why you will be okay.
Do not let this life in medicine take advantage of you and your talents. Stand up for yourself. When you feel over worked, drowning, and like your next task is insurmountable, tell someone. Tell your manager, tell your co-workers, ask for help. When a patient treats you like you are nothing, or you are belittled for something out of your control, do not stand for it because you deserve better. Do not tolerate bullying from other nurses either, just because they have been hurt, does not mean they have the right to hurt you. It is important to care for the person who does all of the caring. If you do this, you’ll be okay.
You’ll have many big ups and downs, but this career will give you every opportunity imaginable. You can continue your education, but you do not have to formally if you choose to learn every day. You are just as valuable as a bedside nurse, as you are as a nurse practitioner, and an educator. You are most valuable when you are your authentic self. To be authentic, you must be vulnerable. You should ask questions even if you fear humiliation. You will make mistakes, admit them and learn from them. Do not become intimidated by those who know more, become their pupil. You are a nurse now, this career will give to you as you give to it. So when the time comes, teach other nurses about the club, so they can be okay too.