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4 Years Later My Dear Nephew

4 years ago I drafted an entry as my nephew started on his path to graduate as a Registered Nurse, as of now he’s a few weeks away. COVID-19 delayed his finish and sadly we had no convocation to attend. In recognition of the many nursing students who are on the cusp of novice practice in these extraordinary times, here’s a few pointers. For the veterans of nursing this may also help you.

Your diploma that lists your entry degree is in many ways an engraved invitation to join our party of nursing. There are still the NCLEX and jurisprudence examinations to complete your full RSVP, but by now you have gained some valuable insights.

  • Nurses are for the most part dedicated to their practice though in some areas, units, and groups the value of altruism, teamwork, empathy are not always in evidence.
  • The patient experience cannot be a positive, affirming score without some consideration for the largest segment of staff who deliver care; in this case nursing (hospital-based).
  • Organizations and agencies would be best served if their patients/clients received mindful, knowledgeable, skilled care because the team has the traits of teamwork, trust, and embraces the mission, vision, and values. Any behaviours that translate into less than excellent care need to be managed in a timely, effective, and consistent manner.
  • Nursing students need faculty advisors who are supportive not obstructive to the learning process, and empathetic to the current environment–pandemic.
  • Novice nurses need preceptors who are role models of practice excellence, deportment, attitude, and recognize their contributions strengthen the profession.
  • Regrettably conflict in a workplace is a factor in the development of burnout, compassion fatigue, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Horizontal violence experienced as bullying every shift; a real trauma that requires intervention, by the manager and administration. Clear policies in place, actions taken when necessary, team building and sustaining processes need to be in place to support all members/staff.
  • Peer support is essential and additionally a manager who role models professionalism and empathy, identifies appropriate conduct, and ensures Employee Assistance Program resources are accessible, understood and trusted.

Things You Need To Know

Burnout is a rite of passage, it will occur and how you manage it will translate into your future success. Initially you will be reconciling what you learned in school and the lived experience of seeing pain, despair, death, the effects of a pandemic, and the demands to be a nurse. To practice in high performance environments, navigate through ambiguity (unresolved may lead to moral distress), build credibility etc. one needs to be confident that being a nurse is for them, not for their parents’ expectations, or the money is decent, or because you rushed a deadline and had to pick something.

It is easy to suggest that being a nurse is how we are socialized during our educational process, “I am a Register Nurse” means my body, mind, and soul have been co-opted into a profession that is practice-based, philosophically rooted, and evolving over time. One of the transformations in practice is electronic documentation, yet we have some organizations that continue to have paper charts, hybrid charts of both written and electronic records, to digital tools that as described enhance data collection for patient safety. A plight of nurses is the challenge of time management to capture all the data points; even in the chart by exception requirements. Workload is identified by nurses as heavy, it is recognized that complexity and acuity can co-exist in any number of patients.

As you embark on your nursing career keep this in mind; kindness, caring, and empathy are key ingredients of a healer. Knowledge, listening skills, mindfulness will elevate your practice so that you will understand your patient’s perspective. When they’re confused you are their beacon of light to reorient them to the here and now, albeit many times over the shift but note what works and share with colleagues. Heed the family and the patient they likely know more about their condition, specific reactions, and what has been trialed before.

If you have to change your patients’ incontinence products be empathetic, imagine yourself in a position where you cannot attend to your own elimination needs. Be timely for changes, include the family if possible, utilize nursing process as this is more than a task. You assess skin integrity, hydration, signs of infection, effect of diuretics, mobility, to name a few. Do not reduce your nursing practice to a series of tasks, demonstrate knowledge, ask yourself what and why questions. What is causing …. Why is this happening…. This is an issue how will I ….???

As thoughts race through my mind I acknowledge the need to blog regularly, but then the golf season has been a terrific distraction from pandemic news and political issues in my own country and the neighbour next door.

In summary, own your nursing practice whether you’re a novice or expert clinician, be mindful of models of care that attempt to compartmentalize the patients, we are the purveyors of holism and we know people are more than the sum of their parts. Perhaps we are the mortar some need in their lives, without us they would not be able to go on, as nurses we need support too to overcome the challenges, the pain, and also the triumphs, positive outcomes, and confidence. My nephew can call me anytime. Ensure you have a family member or friend who will be your source to renew resilience. Namaste

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Morrie Schwartz in “Tuesdays with Morrie: by Mitch Albom

Categories: Uncategorized

Paula M

Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader

1 reply

  1. Beautifully said Paula. My daughter also graduated this year without a convocation to celebrate her accomplishments. Last week she successfully wrote her NCLEX exam after spending her whole summer studying. Her father and I are immensely proud and excited for her to begin her career in this profession that she has been called to since childhood.
    You post beautifully encapsulates some of the challenges faced by nurses and reminds us all of why we chose nursing. As a nursing educator/manager I tried my best to model professionalism, compassion and self-care and to create cohesive teams that also embrace these values so that they may be a source of strength to one another through the challenging and ever-changing times in healthcare. The support of our nursing sisters and brothers is paramount to not only our well being and longevity in the profession, but to the safety and improved outcomes to those entrusted in our care.
    Congratulations to your nephew and welcome to the club!

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