With Thanksgiving upon us, I have been reflecting about why I am thankful to be a Nurse.
I’m Never Bored At Work No day is ever the same and the cast of characters of patients and nurses are constantly changing. When the patient tells me she is going to bring her placenta home and eat it in soup, it makes for a stimulating chat. Or when you hear a nurse screaming at a resident and discover it has nothing to do with patient care. He topped off his coffee with her unlabeled breast milk in the break room fridge – how can you be bored?
Flexibility Do you want to work Monday through Friday, nine to five? Sure, I did that as a chemo nurse in a physician’s office in New York City. While many of us complain about working weekends or holidays, I think most nurses love the flexible schedule. I’ve worked day, evening and night shifts. I’ve worked eight hour and twelve hour shifts. I’ve worked as a traveling nurse in Hawaii, Denver, New York and California. I’ve worked in other countries on medical missions and escorted patients home after illness or accident on vacation. The flexibility that nursing provides has given me the opportunity to play and explore in a way that a standard job with two weeks vacation would never permit.
Neuroplasticity Research has shown that people who continually use their brain with Sudoku, knitting patterns or puzzles seem to improve the health of their brain. Nurses continually learn about new diseases and treatments, adapt to rapidly changing technology and are given a new anagram (like SBAR or RACE) each day to memorize for JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations).
Lessons Learned From Patients Aside from all the fun facts about diseases and treatments that we learn, nurses are direct witness to human beings in some sort of discomfort. I’ve observed a range of reactions from complete entitlement and rude behavior to the ability of patients to be appreciative of care at their most challenging of times. My greatest teachings have often come from wise words from heartfelt conversations with patients. Witnessing the capacity of the human heart of my patients and family members has been a driving force keeping me at the bedside.
Friendships With Nurses Some nurses have found jobs in cubicles but most of us work in settings that require up close and personal teamwork. I’m referring to the kind of teamwork it takes to position a 300-pound patient for gastric bypass surgery or clean up the confused patient who opened his colostomy bag all over the bed. When your patient has a bad outcome and you wonder if you contributed to it or your patient bolts out of the hospital, AMA (against medical advice), there is nothing like the support of fellow nurses to pick us up, console us and find the humor in it.
So this week, with Thanksgiving upon us, I’m grateful for all the nurses I’ve known and worked with, the nurses who have cared for my family and friends and for those whom I have yet to meet.
What are you grateful for?