put your head down


Recently, I’ve been struck with the importance of attitude, especially as it relates to my unit at work. With the way surgical patients come and go, a nurse can easily turn over his or her entire assignment in a twelve-hour shift. We walk for miles and miles, and we consider it a good day if we pee before lunch. Assessments, medications, doctors, tests, blood transfusions, education, therapy, hourly rounding… a normal day is enough to frazzle even the most experienced nurse. Add to that the idea that med-surg is merely a stepping stone for most nurses, and it’s easy to see why one might see a pretty high turnover on most units like mine.

Medical-surgical nursing is a special kind of work. Fast and furious. Hard and heavy. It’s certainly not for everyone, and I totally understand why. In nursing school, I barely passed my adult health classes. I never volunteered to perform skills in front of my peers, instead keeping myself busy “taking notes” in the back. I applied to every specialty job I could find when I graduated, so as to avoid med-surg at all costs. Eventually, though, I decided I needed some real, medical experience. I transfered into a med-surg job at a hospital, and I haven’t left since. I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun. But it’s where I belong right now, and I’m grateful for the calling. On the days that I feel like calling out sick, on the days that I wish I was a stay-at-home mom, I just put my head down. I grit my teeth and get through the day. Sometimes I find myself coaching the girls at work through this idea. When I’m in charge and find a nurse stressing, I try to make a point to pull him or her aside. I ask them to say it all out loud. Get it out, vent, process, brainstorm… and then get to work.

I’ve said this time and time again, but I’m still not sure how to respond when people ask me how I do it all. When it comes to my nursing job, I just do it. It’s the same with my family, my job at Influence, and all of the other parts of my life. I put my head down and go to work. I know so much of my life is about looking up and looking out. So much of my life must be about community and vulnerability, but it can’t always be that way. Sometimes, it’s about me choosing joy even when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes, it’s about reminding myself that I’m blessed to have a job in this economy, especially a rewarding job that I actually enjoy. Or it’s about reminding myself that I’m blessed to have a house full of children, even when they’re hard.

Ladies, I feel like getting through the hard stuff with grace is absolutely vital to our femininity as women. I also feel like this might be something our generation is in danger of missing. For this life to be fulfilling, we must get our hands dirty. As far as I can tell, the gospel demands it. At home or at our jobs, the story is the same. We’re tempted to complain or avoid or quit when things get tough or uncomfortable. I know because I’ve been there, but I don’t want to be about that anymore. I don’t want to raise children under this idea, either. I want to be a wife, a mother, a writer, a nurse, and a friend who leads by example. I want to be the kind of woman who isn’t afraid to put my head down and get the job done.

Who’s with me?

9 thoughts on “put your head down”

  1. Love this. Really needing this reminder going into finals week…nursing school is tough but sometimes all I need to get me through are small reminders like this and seeing the love you have for the profession & making differences in peoples lives.

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful post. I too work in healthcare and recently told my husband I feel like The Grinch sometimes at work around the Holidays. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

  3. This. This is the reality check I needed. From a new RN (2 yr out) who has been seriously struggling with finding joy even when everything sucks this was golden. Thanks for being real.

  4. This is encouraging, those 12 hours are long and it is hard to leave for them most days. I think for me, the struggle is not the work. I can “put my head down” and power through the hard work. For me, the struggle lies in anxiety that comes from being separated from my daughter that long and the anxiety of adding our second soon. There is the fear of the unknown–how will dad do with two under two for 12 hours two to three times a week? Working moms need more cheerleaders–heck, moms in general can always use more cheerleaders. Glad you are doing just that.


  5. This is great! People have asked me the same thing about getting things done, and I never quite know what to say. I think the more we think about how much we have to do, the more overwhelmed we become. For me, I need to do just what you’ve said. I need to just suck it up and get moving sometimes! God will equip us with everything we need to do the work He wants us to do. That includes energy, time, grit and the ability to get things done.

    This was a great post!!!

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