Keeping the Faith, Keeping the Passion

Achievement. This has always been and I think what would forever concern me. Achievements in my lifetime, that is. This got me into looking at things and people retrospectively.

I remember some people in their senior year in high school when I was graduating from grade school. I look at them (and their social networking accounts) now and realize the differences they’ve made in their respective lives from that time I was looking at them in awe that they’re finally entering college. They were at the top of their class and so my feeling of amazement and pride at somehow knowing them on what I may call a personal level was already something (or maybe at that time). Some, if not most of these people (who are now in the prime of their adulthood) took up the Nursing course. And so needless to say, some of them became Registered Nurses, while the others took up other courses and career fields. I am thinking now that maybe even during their time, Nursing was also at its peak in terms of demands for jobs locally and abroad. This fact then would have been the reason why these people took the course, like I did.

I am the kind of individual who set such high hopes and standards for me. And so, staying to study for this course with all the burdens (and of course, the joy) was and will always be something I’m proud of. I am a graduate of an applauded nursing school in the country. I can and will never deny the pride in saying that but really, I don’t mean to brag. Being proud and airheaded are different things.

April of last year, I graduated. May and June, I attended reviews in preparation for the Nurses Licensure Examination. July, I took the NLE. August, results came out and I was one of the blessed passers of the exam. September, I took my oath into serving and practicing my profession in the noblest of ways. October, I turned 21 and got my first job (a nursing job!). I was fortunate to have been employed by the Department of Health as part of their additional staff for RNHEALS (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service) Batch 1. It was a three-month contract and so it ended December of 2011. My experience as a novice nurse and as a rural health nurse at the same time was very loaded. I for one wasn’t really stunned by the way of life I was about to immerse in for the first three months of my budding professional life. (Again, I commend my school for that- for preparing their students to the reality of the community life.) It was literally in the mountains. The trip to the area alone was already very tedious. Every day, I had to walk to the Rural Health Unit for fifteen to twenty minutes and another fifteen to twenty minutes to get back to the house. I work Mondays to Fridays from 8:00-5:00. Weekends were my free days. However in the area, you get called to emergencies even in the late hours of the night or early hours of the day. Visiting the barrios was another thing. It required hours of walk and gallons of potable water. That was our job. That is the job of public health nurses, midwives and barangay health workers. The upside to my experience was the friendships I made, not only with my co-workers but also with the people in the area. My patients during those emergencies are really the ones that burn in my memory. It is the feeling of satisfaction and effectiveness that was worth more than the stress. After all, it was through these people that I got to have my first nursing job and my first wonderful professional experience.

So now it is the end of the first month of the year. Tomorrow would already be the month of February, the month I’m hoping and praying to be re-hired for a one year hospital contract (hopefully).

As you can see, I’ve spent the first month of my 2012 mainly at home, enjoying the comforts and bearing with the downsides of being unemployed. I remember having read a quote pertaining to having a job. It kind of goes this way, “Work spares you three evils – boredom, vice and need”. I totally agree with it. These bum times taunted me. There were these instances that I was so tempted to change my career. Honestly, this issue on unemployment is most of the time, more depressing than inspiring (especially at such moments). I have thought of applying as a call center agent as the benefits are GREAT. I have also thought of trying my luck in pursuing the career of a flight attendant as I know some people (even some are registered nurses) who are doing so well in their life with this as their career. I admit that having these thoughts made me feel guilty of being a traitor to my profession given that I am just a young RN and haven’t really experienced THE millstones of this career compared to those who have already climbed their way up to Benner’s Stages of Nurse Competencies. But then also, at times I can say that I have every right to feel and think this way as the situation we young RNs are in now is not an easy one. We graduated. We passed the Boards. And yet we were pushed  into the professional world with very meager employment opportunities. That time would have been the moment we were all in uproar to look through and select the BEST nursing field and the BEST opportunity for a job with which we would begin our endeavor in becoming better nurses every single day. Instead, that moment became uproar of complaints, uproar of falling esteem (even to those who really did well, if not excellent, during their college years), and uproar of demands to the government.

Speaking of government, I would like to convey gratitude to the government, to President Benigno Aquino III and to the Department of Health for giving us nurses, young and old, the opportunity that is RNHEALS. To nurses’ organizations like the Philippine Nurses Association and its officers, thank you for keeping the members especially the fresh ones taken care of.

As I go through the days of my unemployment, I think it is a must to clear my head. I realized that what I really want is to become a nurse. I am a nurse and so I will practice my profession. Many of us may not have been lucky yet to find a nursing job where we can truly apply what we’ve learned in our four years in college but we can always apply them in our lives. That may have sounded cliché but really, it is the truth. We can always use that knowledge, skill and attitude in taking care of a sick grandparent, in educating a puzzled neighbor, in enlightening and understanding an acquaintance with a neurotic disorder, etc. You see, nursing is everywhere. It’s just that not every form of nursing is equivalent to a paycheck. It would be hypocrite of me to say that we can and should all live with that, but maybe, just maybe, until we find that opportunity to practice our profession with pay (in figures), we shouldn’t be stopping the Nightingale in us altogether. That goes to say that we shouldn’t quit. If we have the dream, we should live the dream.

One thing I found that works for me (aside from the “thank you” from our patients) is to keep track of the nurses I know and of the lives they’re making out of their nursing careers. It never fails to inspire me. Maybe, it would work for you too. I leave you with some lines of our Capping and Pinning song in 2009 (wherein I remember myself at the pinnacle of my nursing passion), “Reach out, keep your faith alive.. ’Cos we’re a step closer to where we long to be.. Shine your light brighter to the roads of life..Keep the candle burning, keep the fire alive…”

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Registered Nurse. Journalist. Planner. Doer. Believer. Achiever. :)