I sat up the other night until almost three in the morning talking to my husband, and I’m not going to say I talked about work the entire time, but it did encompass a large part of the conversation. After all, work is a part of your life, many times a large portion, and in nursing especially it can seep out from the confines of the hospital walls and into the nooks and crannies of your home.
God bless that man, he sat there and listened to me vent for some time, and he even interjected appropriately as if on cue, “well yeah, that would make me mad too.” He nodded sympathetically as I poured out my heart, reciting a list of things I found unfair about the field of nursing, and I didn’t stop until I came to a point where my own words halted me. Or rather haunted me.
“I just hate it.” I said.
But then I paused.
I continued, “I don’t mean I hate nursing. I love being a nurse. I really do.”
And the fact was I wasn’t trying to convince myself of this statement. I really did love being a nurse, but sometimes I hated how hard it was to be a good one anymore.
My rant to my spouse had come on the tail end of some new training, and that seemed to be something that came around often. And I got that. The field was ever-changing, ever-growing. Technology advanced by leaps and bounds. You had to keep up. Fine. Change is good and whatnot, but that didn’t make it any easier.
New computer programs, upgrades, and enhanced operating systems with which we could capture our required documentation. These newer, better ways were meant to make life easier, but it didn’t always feel that way. Sometimes it felt like it made things harder. Sometimes it made it seem like there was less and less time caring for your patient, and more and more time documenting that you had. And I hated that.
I didn’t hate nursing, per se, but I hated how hard it was to nurse well.
Healthcare was a business. As much as I just wanted the heart of it, the fact remained that reimbursement was required, it was getting harder to obtain, and our hands were in it whether we wanted them to be or not. And I guess I hated that.
As it stood the odds were not in our favor. The patient population outnumbered us by a long shot, and each year that went by tipped the scales from our favor. It was just like they had warned us about more than a decade ago, and I was just living to see the beginning of the real nursing shortage and ailing baby boomers.
Working short-staffed was becoming the field’s norm, and we didn’t dare divert dollar signs (ahem, I mean patients) away. We were instead encouraged to suck it up, put on our big girl (or boy) undies, and nurse on. Safe staffing was a term toted on nursing forums that meant little in real life until the word lawsuit got thrown around.
I hated it. I love nursing, but I hated not having the time to nurse well.
New nurses were fleeing the bedside in record numbers, and a part of me didn’t blame them one bit. They hated it too. They didn’t want to, but they did.
We served a new population, one of instant gratification, that held stock in things like the term “customer” being used increasingly more over that of “patient.” We all strived for five, no doubt, but the bar was being set a bit unrealistically high by Generation X & Y.
I loved being a nurse, but I hated that the expectations on me were often unobtainable.
But the saddest part to me about it all was that the hate was there. My heart was nursing. My blood pumped with the rhythm of healthcare, and my profession was a calling more than anything else. I wanted to love every single thing about the field. I didn’t want to vent my frustrations to my spouse. I wanted to be happy in a job that the thought of made me smile, but that the reality of often fell short. And the fact that dissatisfaction was common among my peers made it even worse. It was getting easier and easier to complain, and harder and harder to enjoy. That was the worst part. How something you loved could give you such grief really ached at my soul.
The patients (not customers, mind you) kept me going. The sense of duty spurred me on. The pride in the profession gave me wings, and the love of healthcare carried me. But sometimes, some aspects of nursing I really hated, and that was the saddest part to me.