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Why nurses need a creative outlet

Nurse doodles


It goes without saying that I love what I do, right? But on those days where the stress levels are rising, the call lights are ringing in my ears when I get home, I need a way to de-stress. I need something that’s purely me. Something that is going to let my mind wander and drift off to a more peaceful place.

Back in the day – okay, like 6 years ago – I had no intention of being a nurse. In fact, if you suggested it to me, I probably would have laughed. I wanted to write novels. I wanted to be a free minded, paint-covered, barefoot bohemian artist with a loft full of canvas and a typewriter with papers scattered everywhere, light coming in through the window, bouncing colors off of the orange and red painted walls. Yeah. Something like that.  Somewhere in the middle of that amazing ideal of what my life was going to be like, I started art school, and soon realized that this would not pay for gas money, or supplies.  So I needed a job, and my aunt managed to get me a secretarial position at a dialysis unit she was working at.

It was SO weird to me. The place smelled like something you couldn’t quite put your finger on, and weren’t too sure you wanted to. I had to process all the labs, spinning vials of blood in a centrifuge, pouring off serum. I had to talk to patients… it was all very weird to me at first, and I’d spend my down time working on the unit projects as the artist in the group.  But it didn’t take long before I realized I loved the patients, and that the nurses did all sorts of amazing things for them, helping them live better lives.

And here I am, 6 years later and a registered nurse. My dreams have changed (though I still think the loft would be totally cool, but the typewriter is no longer necessary!). And so while I am happy with my decisions, I still like having my creative outlets, and I’m still figuring out what they are. The therapy I get from trying out a new box of oil pastels on a new pad of paper does more than I could pay any therapist for. Just the smell of an art store, the rubber erasers, the paper, sharpened pencils, the faint after smell of paint, is enough to calm me after a rough day (maybe it’s just the fumes?).

I just got my first paycheck as an RN and instead of a major shopping spree for clothes and shoes, I headed over to the art supply store and bought myself a new sketchbook, some new pencils and some art pens, came home and just went with it.  In just a few days, I’ve noticed how much more calm I am, how much more control I have with my mood.

Even if this isn’t your story. Even if the only thing you can draw is a bunch of circles that sort of look like a flower, it’s so important that you find something that helps you let go. We have CRAZY jobs, and it’s hard to not bring it all home sometimes. Find what works for you, singing, drawing, playing, even just molding some Play-Doh in your hands. Whatever it is, find what your creative outlet is –  you’ll be happier, and your brain will thank you.

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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