A Rude Awakening: The Nursing Struggle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is nursing?  Nursing is a state of mind, a passion, a life some of us chose and for some, it chose us. Our battle started with prerequisites and the struggle getting into nursing school.  Then when we found out when starting our nursing school journey that we were already in over our heads on the first day!  Nursing theory for roughly 20 hours while clinical for another 20 hours on top of homework, working around school, studying and juggling family life.  Some students are single parents with no help or social support, I certainly know this to be true!  Everyday going nonstop and trying to hang on, then a test would come, some of our fellow classmates would be crying and others sitting in solitude trying to figure out where they went wrong.  Others, the slim number of other classmates would be smiling and quietly reading until class resumes.  We learn the importance of protecting ourselves to prevent the spread of infection, to adhere by policies from governing bodies, all while juggling 10 different tasks at any given moment to save lives on a daily basis.  Nothing prepares you for the day you set on the floor as a new nurse.  Winging it on a prayer, the nursing warrior makes it out alive with massive student loan debt from working part-time during school, if they are lucky, missing their kids school events, birthdays, or even knowing what it is like to take a break during the 2-3 years of attending the basic Registered Nurse program.  Don’t let me leave out the Licensed Practical Nurses that struggle battling to taking the same type of curriculum over but for a second time to become a Registered Nurse.  This is even more badass!!  Between Nursing Theory, Clinical Rotations and Homework, the average nursing student is putting in approximately 60 hours of blood, sweat and tears to take care of patients and their families.  They say you never understand nursing until you go through what most of us recall as the best/worst experiences of our lives.  Would we replace it?  Never!  We are just working to make it even better!!

How is our profession the best?  We care. While most professions count the minutes to clocking out, we make sure your family is tucked in, questions answered, and the relentless charting completed to make sure everything we have done for you is documented.  Don’t get me wrong, some days we want to 9-yard dash out the door but in reality, who are we fooling, we have wayyy too much to do and a moral character a Rhino couldn’t breakdown.  In times of despair, we choose to listen, sit down and give you company, despite the 5 different ways we are being pulled.  At times, more times than not, we don’t even get a bathroom break, eat lunch or get away to sit down because you are our priority.  We do without so you have that friendly face when you are tired of not being heard, the one that you see being punched or screamed at the patient across the hall. We manage to quickly bounce back, hiding our anguish and feelings the best that we can so you can feel comfortable. We know how to be flexible, adapt and be resilient, even we shouldn’t.  Our humor can be so gross to a regular person, but to the rest of us, we will be laughing so hard that we may snort when we laugh. 

My nursing family knows how to have gatherings at work, to make a co-worker feel special, even when they are trying to recover from the last patient they lost.  When you are grocery shopping or have an emergency, your first responder is more times than not, a nursing professional, whether it is our lovely Nursing Assistants, an LPN, RN or NP, we are there for you.  We give insight, not advice on your boo-boos and if you should go to the ED or to possibly put a bandaid on it.  We are loyal to what we do and advocate for you behind closed doors, this is even when you think nobody is on your side.  When the doctor makes an error, bless their soul, we are there to make sure your care is correct and do our best to help you through the health challenges.  Through it all, we there for you when your family is at home, to hold your hand when taking your last breath, caring for you at your darkest of hours all while putting on a smiling face to greet a new admission.  It all sounds like doom and gloom, it can be, especially now.  It isn’t very good for my nursing family. Nurses are being furloughed, fired, contracting COVID-19, dying, and trying to help the public understand that this virus is real, and not fake.  This is the new world that our nursing students are graduating into. 

Now more than ever, we need your help!  We have the biggest challenge ever, COVID is ramping back up and we need the public to know that your nursing neighbor, friend, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, mom or dad need your help.  How can you do this?  Please wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and call your local representatives to back our profession.  Our Frontline Nursing Warriors need proper respirators and PPE.  We also hope the public will be patient with us when they are are sick, as hard as it is, we are doing the best that we can with what we have available to us.  Nurses and nursing assistants are on the Frontline of the pandemic, they are contracting COVID and being assaulted both verbally and physically by patients on a daily basis when working with all patients.  We did not sign up for this, it isn’t a part of our job.  If you see a nurse or a nurse’s aide being hurt, please report it for them.  They may not be strong enough to say something.  

Please your Nurse or Nursing Assistant know about our Facebook online support group Nurses Against Violence Unite, Inc.® http://Facebook.com/groups/NAVUnite it is Free to Join and participation is welcome!

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Please be Safe Out there & Love Your Nurses & Nursing Staff! <3

Dr. Sandra Risoldi