7 Lies my Nursing Teacher Told me

1.       Academia and grades are markers of success.

The nursing curriculum is ruled by academia.  Searching for articles constantly, searching for the answers in a text book was often the most important thing. Until searching for lost patients, the correct food in the staff room share fridge, and medications hard to pronounce in an unorganized drug room under time pressures made those papers look easy.

2.       Evidence based practice is simple.

After attempting to apply cream onto a stranger’s skin in a hyperactive delirious state. I was less concerned about which cream was the best, and happy that something was in stock, on hand and that it actually stayed in place. Nurses telling me to “just do it this way, because we always have” and finding the courage perform skills and teach others without offending them…. Not so simple.

3.       You have 8 hours in your day.

I didn’t know my new career was actually a sport. Administering IV antibiotics was like a time-trial where every single check was executed, lines primed, functioning and programmed in pumps at certain volumes and rates. Sometimes, I would get to the patient to find their line had blocked, or they are out for a smoke and I would have to discard it and repeat the whole process.

4.       We do shift work.

It is not just that I had to “be” at work, it was that I had to be switched on, on my game 100%. Unlike my part time job as a lifeguard (which had a higher hourly rate by the way). People were counting on me, screaming out in pain, climbing out of bed, all in the darkness with minimal other staff around. 

5.       Always offer reassurance.

Being around and exposed to so much trauma and often on people’s worst day I think aged me mentally about 20 years. Being exposed to women who are 16, delivering their child addicted to substances, mothers screams of grief when their adult son died, suicide attempts and cancer (just to name a few). All of a sudden, stranger’s problems were my problems. They call it resilience, but can I order some more of this please?

6.       Talk to your loved ones when you get home.

I went home with many mixed feelings that nobody other than a nurse would understand. My loved ones say “please shut up” at the dinner table, just when I was getting into the thick of describing those offensive bodily fluids.

7.       Never did they say it was so special.

The reason why we are the most trusted profession is the weird kick we get from relieving others suffering. That feeling when you picked up a deteriorating patient early and saved their life. When you relieve someone’s pain. That feeling when you helped to facilitate a calm and peaceful death. That feeling when you achieved so much in just 8 hours you actually can’t believe how super human you are. Along with the challenges, come insurmountable rewards, I think the term is compassion satisfaction.   

 By Amy Benn

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