It is with a bit of embarrassment that I share this story with you but in my opinion the teaching points are important.
Those who have read my books have heard of the man who coded early in my nursing career. While the more experienced nurses went to his aid, I was asked to watch the other patients on the floor. I was new, I was scared and glad it wasn’t my patient.
In the midst of this crisis, one of the nurses came out and asked if I could go to central supply and pickup some equipment. I called and told central supply that we had a code and we needed some life-saving equipment. To my surprise, the person on the phone told me, “We don’t deliver.”
I was shocked! I could not believe that this man’s life was endangered and central supply would NOT bring life-saving equipment while I was still responsible for all the other patients on the floor. Apparently, I was not so diplomatic in my telephone conversation which resulted in my ending up in my head nurse’s office the next day having to account for my response.
I was devastated. I had never been in trouble, never been written up. I had always been somewhat of a rule-follower and never got into trouble only to find myself being written up about this incident.
As a new nurse, I was scared and felt “What am I going to do if something happens to my job? Who’s going to hire me?” I felt ashamed and alone with no one I could turn to. More so, I felt completely unsupported and like I couldn’t confide with anyone. My head nurse even failed to point me in the direction of classes that I could take to improve on my communication skills. I had a dirty little secret.
What I realized and fully understand today is that most nurses feel this way if they are in trouble. The emotion is that they are alone and their life and career are over. However, you do not have to be alone and there is no pride in keeping a secret. As nurses, we need to collaborate and share our challenges to get support from others who have not only already been there but have learned to overcome the feelings. Perhaps had I shared my situation with a co-worker, they might have been able to turn me in a direction to get the help I needed.
As nurses we take care of everybody else but ourselves. And this is one of those situations where, by sharing, we allow other people to give to us and possibly help with a solution to what troubles us. Nurses tend to keep any discipline as a deep, dark secret instead of sharing with others and making it a learning experience. Keeping it as a secret can be more harmful to you than sharing.
I would love to see nurses come together to share their struggles … and solutions, because it does take a village, and a team, to be strong. Sometimes we just can’t do it ourselves.
I invite you to open up and share your struggles with a co-worker for support, compassion, understanding and even assistance because you know you would be there for them if they asked and shared.
Bonnie Heglund RN BSN LNC says
Excellent well written and all together too common. Our culture of employment I believe is the culprit. Nurse managers are working for a hugely profitable and necessary industry in our capitalistic society. The nurses employed are frequently in these kinds of situations and its just wrong. I would advocate nurses to practice independently in contract with facilities rather than be employees so our professionalism can shine, our care and compassion add value to the patients we serve and not be subjected to heartless corporate like competition and discrimination which takes advantage of our incredible personal and sometimes sacrificial contributions to society.