by Paula Manuel Staff Nurse Interest Group

Dear Nephew

My nephew also known as the clone of my brother is about to start his nursing program in a couple of weeks.  I have invited him to read my blog, not sure if that has happened–I am encouraged that he has obviously been thinking about the program, as evidenced by comments on future pathways around specialty and nurse practitioner and I like to believe I have influenced him somewhere along the way (well perhaps a number of times).

My nephew is of course in my eyes a delightful young man (his brother is my other delight) and I am impressed by his approach to research the programs, recognized the importance of academic marks from high school, and he adapted and showed flexibility to achieve his objective to be admitted into a nursing school.  I also commend his parents who have supported his efforts and this weekend like many other parents will be transporting their first son to start his new chapter in life–adulthood.  The kitchen essentials, laptop computer, and other necessary materials/equipment are packed to go, along with a Littmann Cardiac II stethoscope (from Auntie Paula) and a copy of Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing.

It is remarkable to reflect on how different his nursing program will be from my own 20th century experience, as his school has advanced simlabs with state of the art technology to practice the skills needed.  Travelling back in time I recall one of my first clinical experiences to make the bed and communicate with the patient.  The communication segment of the clinical revealed an array of core competencies to listen, to observe, to consider/reflect, to analyze, to determine needs, to forge the relationship that would be therapeutic. The process of becoming a nurse was to recognize that no task is purely technical that learning to be a nurse was blending knowledge, skills, attitude, and cultivating the emotional intelligence domains of awareness, empathy, social skills, and managing one’s own moods and emotions by analyzing not judging to think before we act.

On the off chance my nephew and/or a new nursing student reaches this point consider these points:

  • Regularly check your own vital signs, how do you feel, how is your level of joy, wonder, creativity, and you will need to learn how to reflect on your experiences
  • Learn the science and art of empathy, heed the heart and acknowledge your emotions while in practice and when the clinical period is completed for the day–feel the emotions you will be sad, angry, frustrated, question how futility can be set aside when a real dialogue is needed and you will be exhilarated, inspired, and awed
  • Always take care of yourself first; body, mind and soul–ensure you have what you need and take time to determine what do you need?
  • You are going to transform many lives, sometimes making a difference with a smile, a gentle touch on a shoulder, recognizing a sentinel moment and literally save someone’s life, answering a call bell with a attitude of can do, kindness, and providing quality moments over and over
  • Be inquisitive, be honest, practice excellence, be assertive and zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, don’t worry none of us know everything we’re always learning
  • Have fun, you are about to enter one of the most respected and honourable of professions, you will also bear witness to people who will engage in some dumb acts, you will encounter noble people and downright smucks.  Fortunately most people are grateful you’re willing to help them with some of the most intimate of care tasks.

From your wise and experienced auntie Namaste, I am so proud of you and all the new nurses starting out on their magnificent journey to be nurses.

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by Paula Manuel Staff Nurse Interest Group

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