The importance of unlearning

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Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

Anyone who knows me knows that I love teaching. And while it is one of my greatest pleasures on Earth, it is also one of my greatest frustrations.

We always talk about learning, but unlearning is often important when learning something new. Let's face it: When I went to nursing school — back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth! — the process I learned on how to do something is no longer in practice. Clinical processes change over time as research and evidence show a better way to do things.

After 20 years of, say, pushing air via a syringe down a feeding tube to check placement ... you need to unlearn that so you can check placement by PH. Or, let's say you were trained in another country and practiced there for years, and you get over here and the way clinical processes on certain nursing procedures are a bit different. You must unlearn the old way, which has likely become habit, to learn the new way.

You know, some of life's biggest “Aha!” moments are when we realize we need to unlearn something to learn something we don't know. That takes amazing maturity. I mean, you can stick your head in the sand and threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue. But that's not going to get you anywhere (and you'll eventually lose your job because your way is going to hurt someone).

Look, some of you are going to have to lay down your ego and admit you don't know everything. GASP! You can say, “I've always done it this way and it's worked for me all these years and, by gosh, I'm not changing a thing.”

Yeah, and doctors once thought they were healing by bloodletting and using leeches. I'm REALLY happy those practices of medicine evolved! So should you.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

"The Real Nurse Jackie" is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities LLC and an 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. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an 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. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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