Most people can agree that nursing is hard line of work.
You never really truly understand the impact of that statement until you are one.
The exhaustion and burnout is a real thing.
AND Don’t get me wrong — any profession or line of work is hard. That’s why it is called work.
Originally at the start of creation, we were meant to enjoy the work of “tending our gardens” prior to Adam and Eve eating the apple.
Yet, here we are in a broken world with a cursed form of daily WORK. And it is hard.
As a nurse, I lean into the profession here specifically because of my experience, but again, this post is in no way meant to discredit the difficulties of other professions.
I remember as a new nurse first out of school in my residency program over 5 years ago with the world at my fingertips — haha. Little did I know, it was about to be quite the journey.
I’ll never forget the firsts — the first higher acuity patient, the first time I had to call a doctor, the first time I had to give report, etc.
Acts, which are 2nd nature now, felt like such a big deal at the beginning. I was excited and so honored to be entrusted by my preceptor to do these things.
Somewhere along the way, nurses become a lot better and more comfortable at caring for patients, calling a doctor, giving report. It becomes our work routine.
However, this act of creating routines from our work habits– while a necessary part of growing in your career– has many aspects to consider. Aspects that I continually remind myself throughout a 12 hour shift to help carry me through with empathy and diligence.
First, just because something is routine does not mean it becomes done without attentive diligence. Our attention and respect to the routine should still be like it was the first report given or first patient ever cared for.
I often remind myself that it is a privilege to get to be a nurse and to get to care for people. I never want to let my desire to be efficient in my work routines to rob my mindset of how much of a responsibility the nursing profession is. It is to be respected.
It is when we forget to respect our role that mistakes can happen.
For example, driving a car — a routine thing for a 29 year old, but behind the wheel, I continuously respect the vehicle I am driving because if I didn’t, I could wreck.
Secondly, the routines we create are from our habits during the shift. It can be easy to try to skip steps for efficiency when nurses have a long list of “to-dos”. However, I have to always deter myself from ever thinking it is okay to skip steps to make it easier or more efficient.
These poor habits will become our routines, and any type of steps skipped (whether a one time thing, a habit, or a routine) will lead to poor outcomes.
Healthy habits create healthy routines. Healthy routines create a healthy form of nursing.
As a nurse or in any profession, it is really easy to forget just how much of a journey it is to get to the place one is in their career. Appreciate just how much hard work it took to get to the place you are in now.
Often in those hard shifts, we are plagued with thoughts of if there truly was a calling into this hard profession, if there is even the strength to get through the hard shifts, if this patient even appreciates the nurse, and even what the point of all of it is.
Though in the rut of a hard shift, these lies creep in –> perspective matters, and sometimes a shift in perspective is exactly what could change the course of your 12-hour HARD shift.
Remember how much you are needed, even if it isn’t recognized.
Remember how much of a privilege it is to be in the role of a nurse.
Remember how much impact you are making, even if it is not said or shown.
The worth of your role is not diminished just because of one’s lack of ability to recognize it.
Just the same, remember how vulnerable these patients are. Their lives may have been twisted upside down with a new acute diagnosis that may change the course of many aspects of their life.
It can be a hard time for everyone involved, not just you as the nurse.
I share these reflections from a spirit of helpfulness, because I have been there and recognize just how hard a shift can be. I say these thoughts in hopes that you are encouraged in your role.
To fellow nurses who may be reading, I empathize with the difficulties that come with our long 12-13 hour shifts. There are demands coming from many parties throughout the day.
The nurse is crucial, but just the same, our respect for the career can never become neglected. It is a privilege that should be respected. We are so needed, but just the same our attentive respect to even the mundane tasks is needed even more.
If you are a nurse who needs prayers or someone to vent to, I would love to hear from you. If you are exhausted from work demands, I would love to hear and pray for you.
Your work matters, even if it is not always felt. You are creating space for divine appointments to be had and for God to use you in unexpected ways to make a difference.