Why you should throw a (figurative!) brick at your fellow nurses

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Over the years, I’ve learned to deflect most of the work-related “drama” that can consume you. We nurses can be vindictive, catty, diabolical, cold, mean and down right unappreciative many of the hours we spend saving and improving the lives of others.

We do this to ourselves, our coworkers, our patients and their families. The worst type of offensive behavior is the kind where the nurse denies or is unaware of his or her evil ways. The stress of the job and the toughness of life can weigh a person down sometimes, and the repetitive brow beating we get from all aspects of our job can turn any positive person into a “Negative Norm” or “Negative Nancy.”

We forget how awesome our job is sometimes. We forget how blessed we are with the knowledge and skills we have. We forget how good we really have it.

Sure, we have stressors. There are “corporate suits” out there who do not make our job any easier. Or the patient or family member that treats you like the maid or butler. Yes, there are plenty of allied health care professionals who have no clue what kind of job we do, nor do they care how much they need nurses.

But through it all, we still have a pretty awesome job.

We have a relatively stable profession in an economy with a rickety foundation these days. Our job doesn’t require us to brave the elements for endless hours a day. Our pay scale is respectable compared to most. We have unlimited growth opportunities if we just put forth the effort and sacrifice. And quite honestly, people are living longer and getting sicker these days–that itself equates into some impressive job security (hint of sarcasm there).

I think we all are guilty of driving through life at the speed of sound, not stopping every so often to appreciate what is around us.

We all could follow the example from this fabled tale (I’m sure there are many versions of the story, but you’ll get the message):

Life Throws a Brick at You

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared, instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door. He slammed on the brakes and spun the Jag back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown.

He jumped out of the car, grabbed some kid and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, ‘What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?’ Building up a head of steam, he went on. ‘That’s a new car and that brick you threw is gonna cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?’

‘Please, mister, please, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what else to do!’ pleaded the youngster. ‘I threw the brick because no one else would stop.’

Tears was dripping down the boy’s chin as he pointed around the parked car. ‘It’s my brother,’ he said. ‘He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.’ Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, ‘Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.’

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be okay.

‘Thank you, sir. And God bless you,’ the grateful child said to him. The man then watched the little boy push his brother to the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back to his Jaguar… a long, slow walk. He never did repair the side door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

I would like to challenge all my fellow professionals out there to pick up that (imaginary) brick and throw it at your fellow nurses. Have them slow down and simply appreciate life. I know I’ve needed it thrown at me a few times.

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