A Personal Tale for Nurse’s Week
I have been thinking about what to write for Nurse’s Week and decided I would simply write what is on my mind as an ER nurse during this special week. Since taking new steps to create work/life balance recently, this may be my most optimistic Nurse’s Week in my short, three year, nursing career. I have had a wonderful few weeks at work, and while there are a few reasons for it, I believe the largest reason is my perspective.
Yes, nursing is hard. Yes, it is an especially trying time in the field. Yes, healthcare is largely a gigantic shit show right now.
Even though all that is true, it is my responsibility to be a conscious creator of my lived experience. I get to choose the energy I bring to each day, into each patient room, and into each interaction with my colleagues. Doing this well takes some focused effort, but it has made a huge difference in my quality of life. It has also kept me from wanting to leave the profession all together!
I will outline some steps I have taken to begin enjoying my work again.
Knowing that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have found a huge difference in my overall stress level by doing simple things to eliminate triggers that bring back work stress during my time off. My therapist says 20% of people are highly sensitive, so there is a 1/5 chance that the person reading this right now is an HSP! If you believe you fall in this category I highly recommend reading up on what this means for you and how to care for yourself so your best self shines!
- I keep work related items out of sight in my personal space. My stethoscope and any stray flushes, alcohol pads, etc… stay in my work backpack.
- I deleted TikTok from my phone. This was hard as I do love TikTok, but it was too easy to get riled up by politics and nurse-tok. As an HSP my nervous system just can’t handle those rabbit holes.
- Keep ambient noise to a minimum in my environment. Turning off the bathroom fan after showers, putting dampers on kitchen cabinets and drawers, etc.. At work, I set parameters on monitors to minimize unnecessary alarms and wear airpods during my breaks so I only hear sound of my choosing.
I have a few people I can call on when I need a mentor. Mentors in the nursing field are critical in my opinion. A few months ago when I was seriously considering retraining in a new field I reached out to a nursing professor who has been a wonderful mentor to me. She and I met for coffee and afterwards I felt like a fifty pound boulder had been lifted off my shoulders. Deep down I knew I did not want to leave nursing – I wanted to find a new love for nursing!
My mentor gave some concrete recommendations and was a great listener. She asked questions to get me thinking about the next best steps in my career. This meeting was the catalyst for the much better place I exist in today. I will outline these steps for the rest of this post.
Becoming certified in one’s nursing specialty is a great way to advance learning, become more competent in your field, and show your commitment to providing excellent patient care. I believe my employer will also give me an extra $1 per hour, and I’ll earn some bragging rights. AND an enamel pin. I love enamel pins (my backpack is covered with them). As an ER nurse I will take the Certified Emergency Nurse exam later this month. I have been studying several days per week, and already feel more competent in my work!
Most nurses are hustlers by nature. I am no exception. I have four days off per week and previously I was spending that time being a bit of a slug. Time to recharge is vital, but I feel more recharged now that I have created ways to spend that time that are purposeful. Did I rewatch Schitt’s Creek for the seventh time last week? Maybe. I also knitted some new items to update my knitting patterns (still in progress), knitted some Hudson Hats and created a custom listing for my Etsy store, and got a no longer needed car listed for sale. It is all about balance.
Reopening Family Roots and starting this blog have brought me more joy and satisfaction than I ever thought possible. It has allowed me to collaborate with my husband, who has encouraged this venture and is excited to be an equal partner in it. I get to be creative again and dive into something that completely takes my mind away from nursing. I get to engage with other creative people and enjoy connections and conversation that have nothing to do with nursing. This is all so positive for my soul.
While I am not quite ready to head down this road, I have explored options so I am ready when the time is right. I feel pretty sure that I will become a nursing school professor when I am ready to leave bedside nursing. I am looking at Master’s programs that do not require the BSN first in hopes of saving some money and time. I have also signed up to be a preceptor because helping new nurses learn is something that brings me great joy. Joy really is the key – noticing when something brings me joy and finding more ways to recreate those experiences is how I live my best life.
Wrapping it all up
In a nutshell, just like with anything in life – it is important to take a broader look at a situation and not just take away what is not working, but at the same time add in more things that do work. Social media and other work triggers are out, bringing back a creative business I enjoy and using my off time in more joyous way are in. Reaching out to a mentor and finding ways to grow my career through certification and precepting helps me engage with work in positive ways. All of this combined allows me the energy and mental clarity to bring my best self to work each day and maintain the positive outlook that serves me, my patients, and my colleagues well.
I know times will be tough in my career again, but I know for certain I have the skills to keep moving forward and have a happy life and a fulfilling career. For every nurse who may find this post, I wish you a happy Nurse’s Week. Please know your contribution to the world is important, but your contribution to yourself is even more important. Take time to discover what you need to be happy and put that first. You are worth it. Much Love to you, Lindsay