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You Get to Choose

January 12, 2012

Every day of my working life, I get to make a choice: what kind of nurse will I be? Do I want to rush around feeling harried, stressed out, and short-tempered? Am I in such a hurry that I get sloppy with basic nursing procedures like correctly giving an injection or maintaining sterile technique?

I’d be lying if I said that a lot of the phrases I just wrote didn’t apply to me at some point in my nursing career (except for being sloppy with nursing skills; I don’t do sloppy). More times than I can count I’ve run around like a chicken with its head cut off, multi-tasking my little brain to death, trying to get it all done. In the process of feeling so overwhelmed and pressed for time, I tend to have little room for the really important people, the patients.

Here’s what I know: patients want their nurses to care. Moreover, they want us to stop for a minute and really look at them and their situation. Maybe they’ve just been told they have a life-threatening condition. Perhaps they are at the end of a long battle with drug or alcohol addiction and realize that they must change or die. Maybe they see their own inability to manage a chronic health condition and feel like they’re failing themself.

Or maybe they are just scared and need someone to talk to.

When I talk to my nursing students, I remind them of the power they have: You get to make a choice about what kind of nurse you are. I’m going to teach you the right way to do things and you’ll go out into the world of nursing and see things done the wrong way. It’s up to you to choose what level of integrity you’ll have.

This is good advice and it’s the same thing I tell myself. I only wish more nurses would follow it.

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