Wednesday, February 28, 2018

One Year as a Nurse


March marks one year of nursing under my belt. Kind of crazy, don't you think? It feels like just yesterday I was starting nursing school, which was actually almost three years ago, and yet here I am one year into my career as a nurse. I almost can't even believe it.

When I think about where I am and how I got here, I can't help but chuckle. My journey to where I am was atypical to say the least, and nothing about the path to get here was linear - but then again, the path to get anywhere is far from linear. Growing up, I never really "knew what I wanted to be when I grew up", a quality I was always jealous of for those who were lucky enough to know. My mom, a nurse, suggested I go into the field time and time again, and my response was always a solid no. I went to college with health care in mind, but still a big no for nursing, and ended up graduating with a degree in sports biology. Somewhere along the way, I decided I was going to be a nurse. I don't know what made me decide this, and I can't even tell you the exact moment in time when I changed my mind, but here I am.

And so, shortly after graduating undergrad I made my way through a twelve month accelerated nursing program. An intense, busy, rigorous year that challenged me in more ways than one. It was challenging academically sure, as to be expected & what I signed up for, but it was more so a struggle for me on a personal level. If I'm being completely transparent, I struggled with this feeling that I had made a mistake, that I had picked nursing without really knowing what I was getting myself into, and that it just wasn't for me. I didn't like my clinical rotations, I was anxious, and felt very very lost. So much so, that about six months in, I considered dropping out of nursing school. Yup, you read that right. Bet you weren't expecting me to say that.

Needless to say, I didn't drop out of nursing school. I stuck it out because of this one statement, "You will suffer more from quitting now, then you will from finishing out the next six months." I took that advice to heart, and knew deep in my bones that it was true. Those words were some of the best advice I have ever received, and I give the person who said them a lot of credit for where I am today. Fast forward three years and I can confidently say that I couldn't be happier with my decision to enter into the field of nursing, even if the road to get here wasn't the easiest.

For those of you who may not know, I am a Maternity & Newborn Registered Nurse! I take care of moms and newborns from the hours after delivery to the hours before they are discharged home.

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is "so, what do you actually do..?", which is a fair enough question because unless you yourself have had a baby or your significant other has, then there really is no reason you should know what I do, and that's okay. However, to all of you out there who think that I "play with babies" all day long, I am going to set the record straight. I assure you, I do not!

Yes, I get to work with precious, brand-new little newborns, which in and of itself makes me extremely lucky. I don't take that for granted at all & it is probably my favorite part of my job. On a good day I do get to hold and snuggle newborns, but I assure you that is not all the time - I wish! Instead, the majority of the time, I am responsible for the care of eight patients, four moms & four babies. Four moms who have just done one of the hardest things there is to do - give birth!

I assess each and every one of them to ensure they are stable & progressing to their goals. I intervene when something is not right and I advocate for what my patients need. I medicate patients with pain meds, because having a baby is pretty painful, and I ensure that all other necessary medications are given on time and appropriately. I provide education and teaching to all my moms (& dads!) every single shift - there is a lot to learn when you have a new baby! I help new moms & new babies learn to breastfeed, which I promise you is not as easy as it is made out to be. I provide reassurance to all my moms & dads because bringing a new little baby into the world can be pretty overwhelming. Oh, and I document every single thing I do for every single patient I care for. Can't forget that!

For the most part, my job is a pretty happy. That is one of the reasons I went into it, and one of the reasons I enjoy it as much as I do. However I assure you, it is not always a happy situation or a happy ending. Unfortunately there are situations that are heartbreaking. I have cared for mothers and fathers who have lost their babies, or whose newborns are critically ill in the NICU. What is supposed to have been a happy time turns into a parent's worst nightmare. There are newborns that are born into broken families, to drug addicted mothers. They don't always go home with their birth mother. Sometimes babies are born as a product of sexual assault. It is not always perfect, happy family units that I am taking care of, and I think people often forget that.

I may not be an ED nurse, an ICU nurse, or even an oncology nurse. I do not take care of critically ill patients, or patients who are coming to the end of their lives, but what I do is still important. I am not going to sit here and tell you I save lives, because I most certainly do not, but I feel good knowing that I at the very least am helping people, and on a good day I am making a difference in their first few days of life, or first few days as parents.

Nursing is very humbling for me, it keeps me grounded, and makes me feel like I am giving back. For that, I am very grateful. I can say without a second of hesitation that I truly love my job. I feel extremely blessed to be able to say that, especially in a field that can be so challenging. But with the most challenge often comes the biggest reward.

My journey to get here had it's challenging moments, and there were many times I didn't think I would even make it to where I am today. I am so proud that I did and that I get to call myself a nurse. I'm reminded time & time again to trust in the universe, in God's path for you, and always know you end up exactly where you are meant to be. Cheers to one year of nursing under my belt, here's to many more good years!

xo. G

1 comment:

  1. "Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations"

    Gretchen,
    Even though hard, I knew you had it in you! You had to dig deep, rely on your strength and resilience and continue to persevere! So glad you did, so proud of you! Being a nurse is one of the most demanding and difficult professions but one that reaps the biggest rewards. You have already made a difference in the lives of those moms and their babies through your excellent clinical skills, compassion and gentleness. You are only just getting started, you have so much yet to do...When you push harder, you fly higher! Love you!

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