Nursing. Nursing. Nursing. How, oh how, did I survive the first year of you? I ask myself this on the daily as my one year mark as an ICU RN rapidly approaches. I’ve moved past the terrorizing anxiety of questioning my ability to be a nurse, and in fact, have even found the strength to accept that I am “good” at it.
Skills have started to come with grace. And while it feels like my “frou frou” ways have dwindled being in critical care, in some ways they are even more prominent. Although I may be “good” at impossible duotubes, female foleys, not panicking in the face of deteriorating patients, being a supportive team member, always seeking growth, it is the little things that still bring me the greatest satisfaction in nursing. It is still the reasons I became a nurse to begin with, that hold the most prominent place in my heart.
It is the opportunities that I have now that I am less concerned with learning skills, more concerned with practicing the art of nursing that runneth over my nursey cup. The day I took my nursing vows (i.e. passed that horrible NCLEX), I swore to always base my care around human to human interactions and not just nurse to patient. And although my nursing identity is pretty strongly inherent in my every day life, as I have seen, heard, and done things few people outside of the nursing world can imagine, I haven’t forgot.
I haven’t forgot that my primary duty as a registered nurse is to serve with an open heart, open mind, and open soul. I live for the days I get to fulfill my own vision of nursing. The days that I prove holistic healthcare can and does happen in the critical care setting. The days I wildly dream about new ways to bring yoga to nursing. The days I make humans who sit in beds for 21 days feel beautiful and loved.
I wish I could predict what the future held. What world the next year of nursing will bring me. But in light of what I know, I will survive almost anything with the same integrity I came into the profession with. The same love. The same heart. The same two hands that often hold life and death and everything in between.
And to the baby nurses, who find themselves on a similar path, I swear to you… you will make it too. You will be the nurses you look around and want to be. You will learn how to respond to scary situations. You will start IVs, mix vasoactive medications, start chest compressions, go to rapid responses and actually know something, and perhaps even have a surgeon thank you(HAH!). You will instill faith in family members with your knowledge and confidence. You will make it through a shift without crying in the parking lot or on the way home. You will even like going to work because you are a nurse, and although it is the hardest work you will ever do, you were meant to be one.