The Difficult Questions
In my last blog, I reported I asked myself some difficult questions to confront my battle with burnout. All week, I debated whether or not I should share them. I decided I would. So, here they are in no particular order.
1-Why am I nurse?
My first response: because I went to school for it and it's all I know how to do. When I dug deeper, I realized that my job filled a deeper need, an immature desire that I'd had since I was a small child. I get to hear secrets, one after the other. These secrets, I am obligated by law to keep. But overall, it means my patients trusted me with their innermost needs. And to be honest, there is nothing else in the world like it.
2-Can I get the some fulfillment from another profession?
My first response: yes, but it wouldn't probably pay as much as a nurse's salary. Then I thought more about it, because for me, it's never been about the money. It's about the people. I'd really miss interacting with others on a regular basis. So, though I was burnt out, I knew I had to find a way to fix it.
3-What do I hate about nursing?
My first response: everything! I knew that wasn't true, but at the time, it felt true. I eventually realized it was the intrusion of technology that made me feel the MOST frustrated. Though I love computers and gadgets, in the emergency department, they created a barrier between me and my patient. I felt like a bank teller, clicking and typing while looking at my screen. Add to that the other constant changes that were happening (new meds, core measures, and more!), and I felt as if my head was going to explode.
4-What do I love about nursing?
My first response: giving good patient care. It wasn't until I sought to define what good patient care meant to me that I finally reached a moment of truth. Good patient care means, to me, proper communication. It means educating my patients so they can feel safe going home. It means teaching.
5-Where do I see myself in five years?
My first response: ANYWHERE BUT HERE. But then, where would I be? I can tell you, I'd be lost. I would probably be empty. Because the truth is, nursing is part of my core, my inner self. I can walk away from it even when all I thought I wanted to do was run. When I finally sat down and visualized what I wanted, it included building up the profession I love so deeply. It meant casting away my fears and becoming vocal about good nursing care. I didn't know what shape that would take, but I knew eventually it would come. I was ready to see it when it did.
I asked myself these questions repeatedly. The answers came in time, after a lot of introspection and observation. I watched myself and others at work. I listened to what people were saying--on the job and in the community and about me. I took deep breaths. I disconnected. Once I detangled myself from the negative emotions, my responses developed a more positive tone. A future in nursing began to take shape. I allowed myself to see a different me through others' eyes. Then, I considered the possibility of doing something bigger.
Next week I'll explain that phase in more depth.