Nursing: Learn It, Live It, Love it!
By: Noel D. De Ocampo, MSN/ED, RN
March 30, 2010
Four years in nursing school (two years to some, it took me seven). You learn the normal, the not so normal, diseases, cures for the curable, and options for the incurables. You did clinical rotations, you learn best clinical practices, you read books (lots), and prepared case presentations. You thought you have it all to be a successful nurse, but….
First year at work (if you find one) and volunteering at a government hospital was exciting. It’s really cool because now you’re working side by side with a nurse who used to be your clinical instructor. Now you’re colleagues, not teacher-student. It’s pretty awesome, too because now you can call yourself a professional. Are you sure?
You encountered a patient in the unit who is now becoming more anxious because of an impending invasive procedure. He called you and rudely said, “Hey, Bruce Lee, you look so young. Do you really know what you’re doing?” You reacted and said, “Shut your f…ing mouth!” In the Philippines, you may be able to get away with it, but not without reprimand. In the U.S., you’re lucky if you don’t get fired (I can’t speak about same cases in other countries). You became reactive. It is such a huge mistake that most nurses do. It is very much unacceptable. Completely ignoring how the patient is feeling at that moment.
Now you’re working with another nurse, a “ten year veteran.” You feel supported, but a bit threatened, and at the same time, you feel like this nurse is making you do all the work. You’re not able to speak up because you’re afraid of negative repercussions. You decided to tell the supervisor who didn’t do anything about it, then you found out the supervisor and the nurse you are complaining about are classmates in nursing school and have been friends since high school. Now you know that they’re talking about you. What do you do?
Every nurse will encounter many more surprising scenarios and many unpleasant workplace experiences. Nursing is not only about treating a patient’s known disease, but also knowing what other “hidden” needs they have. It is a game of anticipation, a game of utmost preparation. A sport that is almost impossible to win. Nurses must become skilled on how to be conscious of every word they utter and wary of every body language and gestures they make. It is not to say that nurses should let patients become abusive, but who should be defending the patient? Aren’t nurses the patients’ advocates?
Every nurse will also come across “problem coworkers”. Actual or perceived, these are expected and must be handled in a professional manner. Avoiding to address a problem with a colleague will not only result in a dreadful workplace, but also creates a negative atmosphere within a certain unit, thus creating a non-therapeutic environment which encourages poor quality of care. Let’s face it. Let’s work it. Talk about it and build a stronger work community. Be open, don’t be confrontational. BE PROFESSIONAL!
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