Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Doodles And Scribbles

 Here is a little piece I wrote for my class newsletter; Noah thought that you all might enjoy reading it.  I know it's kind of...well, saccharine...but after all, we're about to be earning our living by being elbow-deep in other people's smelly stuff.  We need all the sweetening up (and encouragement) we can get!

                                                                  On The Cusp

As we, the class of 2012, approach our last semester, I see a solid confidence growing in all of us. The nursing program is tough. It’s VERY tough. We are the strong ones, able to adapt and grow, to listen and learn, to dig deep to find the core of who we are. We are the best of the best. Each of us has fought our own dragons to get here; we all have a unique story, and only we, as individuals, truly know the enormity of our personal accomplishments. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, we’ve shared our deepest fears, and we’ve celebrated each other’s personal wins with a generosity of spirit that will bind us forever.

Now, we stand at the cusp of our calling as healers. It’s exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. As we leave the hallowed halls of ASU in December and step into the role of a professional RN, here are a few attributes I think we need to take with us; I’m sure each of you could add to this list!

Unwavering faith to feel God’s hand upon our shoulder when we’re overwhelmed, when we’re exhausted, when we’re pushed beyond our limits, when we grieve with an overwrought family.

The inner strength and courage to look into a colleague’s eyes and say “I don’t know how to do that. Will you please teach me?” or “I don’t understand that. Will you please explain it to me?”

The grace to realize that being pinned an RN is solemn a rite of admission into an elite group of outstanding men and women, and that it is only the first baby step of learning to be a NURSE.

The humility to know that everyone around us owns vast knowledge and skills that we haven’t even begun to acquire, and to approach all of our new colleagues with respect and a humbleness of spirit.

The open-mindedness to soak up new experiences like a sponge, and to learn from them.

The self-confidence to go home at the end of a long shift, fill the kitchen table with books, and expand our knowledge and understanding.

 The wisdom to allow ourselves to grow as new nurses, to rely on our mentors, and to listen to those around us.

Sincere thankfulness for the nursing instructors who taught us to think on our feet, and to quickly adapt to constantly changing situations; these ladies rewired our brains to approach problems in a critical, systematic manner. The first time we save a life by calmly utilizing all of our skills, remember them.

Gratitude for the nurses who have gone before us, blazing a trail of excellence and reaching behind them to pull us up.

Obligation to the student nurses coming up behind us; let’s not forget how much they need our guidance and support, and let’s make time in our busy “brand new nurse” schedules to mentor them with a joyful heart.



  1. There is nothing saccharine about it, Lady Red. You speak with the wisdom of experience, and wisdom to know you have much to learn.

    You statement about God reminds me of the story of a man at the end of his life. Looking back, he saw his life as a trail of footprints in the sand. For the most part, there were two sets of foot prints -- one being the man's, the other being God's.

    The man noticed that in times of trouble in his life there was only one set of foot prints. He asked God why that was.

    God replied, "Because I was carrying you."

    May God bless you and you have the faith to be as fine a nurse as anyone could ask -- and the same goes for Noah.

  2. levi from queensJuly 24, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    That was wonderful.

    I would add something. If you are out there at the thin edge and the code goes off and you go pounding down the hall and try to plug something in in one last Hail Mary to save somebody's life, you have given enormously. Sometimes the patient will live and sometimes, he will die. And lots of times you will have played a part in saving that life. But sometimes, you will make a mistake and somebody may die. I have twice watched a nurse sit upright staring into space for hours because she felt she had killed somebody. Now she was a very good nurse -- all of the other nurses voted her the one they would wish to take care of them in hospital each year. And she chose (and had been chosen) to be in the spot where she was the one to run when the code went off. But if you are out at the thin edge with little time to decide, you will make mistakes.

    Forgive yourself for the errors you will make. Please.

    And God bless you.

  3. And now, a celebratory ditty for your new careers ...my favorite of the old song.

    Congratualtions :D

    1. Dude, The Singing Detective, now that was one weird show. Michael Gambon and Joanne Whalley...seriously weird.

      But in a good way, strangely.

  4. Beautiful lady red, you amaze me! I can't believe you and Noah will be nurses in December. It seems so long since you started but it went by in a flash :)

    I hope that if I am ever in hospital again (and I hope I'm not) the nurses will be as inspirational and caring as you are.

  5. I love this.

    You are doing what you need to do, but also what you are NEEDED to do. And you are what we need nurses to be.

  6. What a beautifully written tribute to nurses and student nurses Lady Red. I feel humbled by your courage in starting out anew at this stage of your life, and by your great success in your calling.

    I wish you and Noah the greatest success in your studies and in your future vocation. I'm sure, with your steadfast faith, your humility, your persistence and your courage, you will make excellent nurses and be a credit to the profession.

  7. Thanks for all the kind words everyone!

    Levi, I know the scenario that you referenced comes up A LOT. Hospitals, under tight budget constraints, are chronically understaffed. Patient loads on RNs are at dangerous, unsafe levels. Thanks to wonderful medical advances, people are living longer, but the number of medical problems per patient has skyrocketed. Acuity is very high even on routine medical-surgical floors. It's common for just ONE patient to be receiving dozens of medications for many co-morbidities. It's so much to have to know; impossible, really, especially when you're caring for 8 or 9 patients, with all of their monitoring devices, chest tubes, etc.

    From what I've seen, many nurses try to specialize in SOMETHING just to have a shot at attaining a manageable knowledge/skill base. Even still, one honest mistake can cost a nurse his/her license to practice, or even worse.

    It's sobering. And incredibly scary. I hope I can handle it if/when the time comes where I look in the mirror and know in my heart that I could have done something MORE, or should have KNOWN the significance of a tell-tale sign or symptom that I missed.

    I'm praying that my age and life experiences will help me navigate those dark waters. That, and good friends like everyone here.

  8. I don't think it's saccharine at all, lady red. I think it's throughtful and heart-felt and I know your caring and expertise will gain you many grateful patients in the future (and a few cranky ones as well). We all know as patients how illness makes us so vulnerable; we should only be so lucky to have you as our nurse! You will be such an asset to this wonderful profession. Kudos to you, sistah!

  9. Lady Red (and Noah) Congratulations on finishing your schooling, and I hope and pray you will enjoy your new careers, and that they will prove both fulfilling and lucrative.

  10. lr, really fabulous. Ditto on the not-saccharine opinions.

    I really loved this:

    Sincere thankfulness for the nursing instructors who taught us to think on our feet, and to quickly adapt to constantly changing situations; these ladies rewired our brains to approach problems in a critical, systematic manner. The first time we save a life by calmly utilizing all of our skills, remember them.

    As long as we're open to being re-wired, age is just a number. Re-wire early and often, I say.

    If I need a nurse I hope I end up with you lr, or someone just like you. Can't think of any better luck.