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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