Nursing: Rarely black and white

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Gray areas are hard to navigate in nursing.

A very “non-black and white” situation came up at work for me recently that, quite frankly, has made me question a lot of things about myself and where I work. I’ve concluded that the little things and how we handle them DO count for something.

Here’s what happened: I had the opportunity to get myself out of an inconvenient situation by being dishonest. It was no biggie, as far as everyone else was concerned.

I was told I could just fudge my way out of something required of me—that it would be ok. But ultimately, I felt it would be wrong to blur the lines. “No one will know,” people were telling me. I kept thinking to myself, “Yeah, but I would know!” Man, I struggled with this one.

Basically, I was going to be able to cheat the system, and not get caught. How tempting! Yet it wasn’t going to be fair to my coworkers who have had to jump through the hoops that I was so quickly going to skip altogether. In the end, I was basically going to end up lying to someone. A white lie that would hurt no one, I was told.

Yet it was hurting me. Struggling with this decision that would supposedly make my life easier actually made things harder. I am not a lyer. I am not a cheat. I have to be able to look myself in the eye and know that I do things the right way, not the easy way.

And if I’m going to lie about the little things, skimp by on the easy stuff, won’t it be that much easier to do the same when the BIG things happen in life? And in my job as a nurse, people’s lives are at stake. Do my patients want a dishonest nurse taking care of them who can’t even be honest about the small stuff?

So, I’m doing the right thing. It stinks ‘cuz it’s hard and doesn’t feel so good.

Why is being someone of integrity—an honest person—sometimes the hard way? It’s easy to do the wrong thing. But I refuse to give an inch: In the end, isn’t the truth and our good character all we have?

It’s hard to be a nurse above reproach. Gonna continue to fight the good fight. I believe my integrity is worth the effort.

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