Nursing as endurance test

on-a-treadmillI’ve been wondering lately when I flipped from embracing nursing to simply enduring my profession. I’ve also thought long and hard about how by just enduring things, I am on the road to burn out. What’s the difference between the two, anyway?

I remember how I felt about nursing at my 1st clinical–I told my clinical instructor I was “passionate about nursing” before even knowing what nursing really was and what it demanded of me. (How silly she must have thought I was!) I endured nursing school–I can’t say that I loved all of it, but I had the hope that when I finally landed in my new job as as a real, live nurse, I would truly embrace the art and fall in love.

Now, at 21 months into my career, I feel a sense of sobriety about my job. There was never a honeymoon period–I went from the stress of nursing school to the stress of orientation as a GN. I fell in like, never in love!

Now, I endure the stress, the long hours, the interpersonal and intrapersonal struggles I encounter, the learning curve…I seem to just simply put up with the whole thing now days. Lately I feel like I don’t even like being a nurse!

The only thing about nursing I truly embrace and love are my patients. Without the daily fulfillment I find in keeping my moms and their babies safe and healthy, I just don’t think I could “do” this job.

I want to like–love–my job, so I’m wondering how to embrace all the other things? For instance, I know that refraining from judgment and gossiping about my coworkers helps me to embrace them more, but I could go out of my way to actually interact with them on a more personal level. I do tend to keep fellow docs and nurses at arms length–mostly for my own protection.

How does I embrace the stress and long hours? I was doing better when I went part time, but I am full time again and am realizing that part time work suits me better in all ways but financially!

And the learning curve–how do I deal with that? Well, I’m starting to believe I am going to have to continue school (I’m on a break) and yes, do some reading outside of work. My patients are increasingly more educated and have been asking questions about their healthcare that I need to be able to better answer–plus, things are always changing in healthcare, and I must keep up! Yet I also need to guard my free time, my family time.

So I am realizing I don’t have all the answers. I do know that I am unable to be the kind of nurse I want to be by just enduring. Embracing nursing is the only way I can survive and not burn out. Nursing is far from perfect, but surely there is a way to love nursing unconditionally–to embrace it fully despite its pitfalls. We shall see!

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

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6 Responses to Nursing as endurance test

  1. Miriam Bookey

    Oh Prisca, I hope you do find your way back to the joy of nursing! Happy to see that you embrace the patient-side of things. It will be fascinating to watch your journey as you navigate through the pitfalls of petty coworkers and a stressful career.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    “So I am realizing I don’t have all the answers” – this is over half the battle. I would not call it enduring… maybe understanding.. or appreciating.. how about adapting?
    Either way you still have that ultimate piece of the puzzle. You want to care for the patient. Everything else is just white noise.
    Stay strong!

  3. Nikki

    I’ve been in the medical field now for about 15 years, mostly in a support type role… first as a CNA, then an MA, and now a Nurse. I’ve always loved the patients, it was kept me coming to work on a daily basis and keeping a positive up beat attitude. However, when I went into nursing school… or I should say the “Nazi” nursing school, I had to question what it was I wanted. My love of nursing turned to hate due to the belittling of the instructors, but their was one thing that kept me coming back and finishing…. it was still the love of the patients and the satisfaction of doing a good job, not to mention that on clinical days, I excelled and even the staff nurses would give me kudos for a job well done. What I found out was that even during the hellish days, there was always that love of nursing and medicine that kept me in this career, and now that it is over (nursing school that is), and I’m working again, I am finding it much more fulfilling than ever. There are always those hard days, but I’ve also decided that nobody can change my attitude but me, and even a screaming, yelling doctor cannot make me fill inferior. I hope you find that again, and find your path back to the joy you once had.

  4. prisca

    Thanks everyone for your encouraging feedback–lots to think on!!

  5. One day I hope it just snaps in your head and you’re filled with an incredible sense of joy for nursing. It really is a rewarding career, no matter how tedious, slow, or hard a day is.

    Then again, I’m still a student so I could very well end up like you — falling in like with nursing.

  6. I think just being aware like you are is a good start to finding a solution. Every career has its downside, you just have to look at whether the bad outweighs the good or vice versa.