“Being a nurse isn’t about grades, it’s about being who we are. No book can teach you how to cry with a patient. No class can teach you how to tell their family that their parents have died or are dying. No professor can teach you how to find dignity in giving someone a bed bath. A nurse is not about the pills or charting. It’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moments.” – Anonymous
Since the first grade I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Other kids in my class would talk about becoming astronauts, pilots, millionaires or the president of the United States. I would sit back and giggle at their fairytale dreams because I knew what I was going to be…I was going to be a Registered Nurse.
Now, I will say I was definitely influenced significantly by my family. My Grandmother was a nurse for almost 40 years, my mother was a tech for a Neurology doctor and my entire family was blessed with the gift of compassion. Whether it was breaking my arm (twice) when I was 6 years old or having a severe anaphylactic reaction to eating apricots, my family always knew how to take care of it’s own.
After high school I busted my butt to complete my college basics in an ungodly amount of time, but in the end it all paid off. I was able to complete a 5 year Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree in 3 and a half years. Sure I didn’t have much of a social life in college, but my age gave me a huge advantage in the professional world. I completed my degree 1 month after my 22nd birthday.
I have now been an RN for 3 and a half years, and all I can think is “where has the time gone?” It feels like only yesterday I was having a panic attack as my mother drove me to Oklahoma City to take my NCLEX Nursing Boards. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous in my entire life.
After the tests, classes, presentations, 12 hour clinical rotations and sleepless nights had ended I figured nursing would be a piece of cake. Graduation was the final step in what seemed like a eternity of schooling. Taking care of peoples’ lives is no small task, but I felt like if I could handle nursing school I could take on the world. Boy was I wrong.
Looking back on it now I realize that nursing school was a mere foundation for what I’ve learned in the real world of nursing. My professional experiences make school seem like a vacation. I never realized how much I would discover being hands on. I could never imagine how deeply I would actually impact so many peoples’ lives.
There have been a lot of wonderful and terrible moments in my nursing career thus far. I’ve seen some of the most amazing miracles and some of the more devastating heartbreaks. I’ve held a newborn baby mere seconds after it was born, and I’ve held the hand of a patient as they took their last breath.
Nothing in school could prepare me for what was to come. No textbook or video could’ve explained how many life lessons I would learn from my profession. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret becoming a nurse in the slightest. It’s been the most rewarding thing I could ever do. However I will say that I’ve learned a lot along the way. Some of the main lessons I’ve learned are:
1.) Someone Always has it Worse:
As humans it becomes so easy to throw ourselves a pity party. It’s so easy to think “poor me, what have I done to deserve this?” We’ve all done it because it’s part of our genetic makeup. I would never minimize what someone is going through, but I’m here to tell you my friend that there is someone out there going through things we couldn’t even imagine. Just remember to count your blessings.
2.) Each Day is a Gift:
One practice I’ve tried to implement in my daily routine is to wake up and thank God for my blessings before my feet ever touch the ground. It’s so easy to get caught up in our hectic day. We wake up, get ready, make the kids breakfast, get them ready for school, send them on their way, head to the office, get off work, cook dinner, get everyone bathed, lay down and repeat the next day. So many people out there are praying for things that we take for granted. Take a single moment to thank God for what He’s given you.
3.) Age is Merely a Number:
While I’ve known this little fact for a while, I never understood the entirety of its meaning. I’m an old soul, a 50 year old in a 25 year old body. I’ve seen patients less than half my age face battles that I don’t think I could handle. I’ve seen 95 year old women with the fight of a child. Our physical age doesn’t define us, it’s simply a record keeper of how many years we’ve inhabited the Earth. No matter what stage of life you are in remember that age is only a number.
4.) Miracles are Real:
Growing up Baptist, I’ve always believed in miracles. For some it’s hard to believe that Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine and that He rose from the grave. I’ve never once doubted these biblical miracles, but seeing what I call a “new age” miracle will truly open your eyes. I’ve witnessed people walk after years of being paralyzed. I’ve seen people literally walk away from crashes that no one was expected to survive. I’ve watched children courageously beat cancer and patients that woke up after months of being in a coma. To say there is no God is crazy to me because I’ve seen His work first hand.
5.) Life is Short:
Becoming a Pediatric Registered Nurse has always been my lifelong dream, but I never imagined the huge amount of emotional, mental and physical stress that comes with the job. “Life is short” seems like such a cliche line, but unfortunately it’s so true. Whether you’re 2 months old or 82 years old, time waits for no one. I learned this lesson when my best friend passed away at only 14 years old, but now I see it reiterated on a daily basis. I will forever live my life to the fullest.
Being a nurse has shown me some of the most amazing and most brutal things. Every single day I learn something new, I see something new. Technology, medications and nursing based practices are constantly changing, but one thing remains the same…the desire I have to care for others to the best of my ability.
I’ve learned to care for people without judgement, and how to effectively use my compassionate nature to help those in need. That’s the greatest lesson of them all, “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” So next time you see a nurse please tell them “Thank you.” You will never know how much that truly means to us.