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?