What I wish I knew back then
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
I saw a question on LinkedIn asking you to think back to your first job and what you wish you knew back then that you know now. It really got me thinking. After pondering on it for a while, my answer is ... “nothing.”
I believe we “become” by living and doing, and our experiences make us the whole person we are, including who we are in our profession.
As healthcare professionals, our compassion is innate. Yet compassion becomes part of our work ethic and character as we live our experiences and as we grow in our profession. We also become “conditioned” to deal with certain situations that make us amazing nurses. If we knew ahead of time that we would experience these situations, we might have shied away from our careers.
I mean, seriously, if we really knew how many times we would “experience” body fluids in the intimate way we have over the years, we might have said, “Wait a minute, do I want to do this?”
Now, we can honestly disimpact a resident with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other! (OK, probably not literally because that violates every infection control rule in the book, but you know what I mean!) But the truth is, it doesn't faze us and we do these things with compassion, respect and no “ick” factor.
How many times over our careers have we had someone pass from this world to the next in our arms? Yet, we have evolved to the point in our experiences that this is a part of life and we learn to support families and coworkers with compassion and be the rock that they need. That is almost against our nature because nurses want to offer healing hands, and through experience, we learn how to offer the comforting hands.
And while some of my colleagues say they wish they had known the regulations (like we can recite them in our sleep like we do now), I think I was a better nurse when I put clinical care BEFORE worrying about the regulations.
Let's face it: If you are giving good, compassionate clinical care, your regulatory outcome will be OK.
So, yeah, if I could go back in time, I want to be as clueless in my new career as I was when I started. It made me become … well, me.
And I think I am a better nurse because of it — though someone might have warned my kids how they couldn't invite their friends to dinner at our house because nurses talk about anything during a meal!
Just keeping it real,
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.