There will come a day in your career as a nurse where you will feel absolutely defeated. It may be soon, it may have already happened, or perhaps it’s still to come. On this day you’ll want to cuss, scream, and cry all at the same time. For whatever reason, any handful of stressful demands that led to this moment, you will want to quit.
You will question your vocation. You will question your calling, and you’ll wonder if you still have what it takes to be a nurse. You will think you’ve used up every last bit of compassion within you, and that will bother you the most.
As a nurse you will come across a patient, maybe more than once, who blows your mind with their strength in the face of adversity. Their sense of humor despite sickness will make you smile. Their kindness and understanding of your own human limitations while caring for them will humble you to the privilege it is to serve mankind.
You will keep going.
As a nurse you will encounter death and dying. Many times it won’t seem fair. Sometimes it will be a welcome respite for a chronically ill sufferer of sickness, but other times it will be a healthy, young life whose bright future was stolen before it could even begin.
You will watch families cry. You will hold their hand, catch their spent tears on your worn scrubs, and offer what feels to you to be mediocre sentiments. So much grief will weigh heavy on your own heart, and in the quiet moments alone, after your shift has finally ended, you will question how much longer you can keep it up.
As a nurse you will cry with your patients, but then other times you’ll remain stoic and strong. You’ll somehow know which one you need to be just at that exact moment.
So later when a family member meets your eyes with their tear-soaked ones and says, “I can’t thank you enough,” you will sheepishly whisper, “you’re welcome,” and as they walk away you’ll sit in awestruck wonder.
You’ll keep going.
As a nurse you will be tired. So very tired. Your eyes will burn with grit, your fuzzy mind will strain to focus, and you will consume excessive amounts of caffeine.
As a nurse your body will hurt, your back will ache, your feet will cramp, and your calves will burn. You’ll hold up more body weight than you safely should rather than let them fall. You’ll push and pull beyond your physical capacity because you wouldn’t want your own mom or dad to sit in their waste. You won’t let someone else’s. But at the end of the day you will feel your efforts. You will feel them in your tired body as you crash against your cool pillow at night.
And as you fall asleep you’ll see the face of your patient. Someone’s mother. Someone’s wife. Someone’s grandma. You’ll be glad you did what you did.
You’ll keep going. But if you’re wise you’ll ask for help.
As a nurse you will encounter some of the most condescending, cruel people who somehow wind up in your care. You will be appalled actually. You will be treated like a servant, a sex object, or even less than human. You will bite your tongue, you will try and empathize, but in the end you may just realize that some people are downright jerks.
But then you will come across the salt of the earth too. Individuals so kind and gracious, even in the face of serious illness, that will renew your hope in mankind. They will shower you with “thank you’s,” and if your lucky a homemade sweet treat or two.
You will keep going.
Sometimes you will be scared. You’ll fear for your patient’s life, for your own life, for your license, for your livelihood. You will find strength inside yourself you never knew existed there. You will discover untapped potential and talent previously hidden. You will have days where you reach the end of your rope, but then miraculously you’ll find more slack there just when you need it most.
As a nurse you will have hard days. Sometimes the worst of days. You’ll be stretched beyond your limit. You’ll perform further than you feel confident and comfortable. You’ll be pushed to the point of breaking. Time and time again. You will.
But if you can get past all of that you’ll keep going. You will either let the good outweigh the bad, or fight for a better future. Or at least I hope you will.