the sensitive badass nurse

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Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of being that nurse. You know, the badass trauma nurse who walks with purpose, leading codes and managing complex, dying patients without losing her cool. The typical ER nurse as portrayed on TV.

I know all nurses aren’t like that. Most aren’t, to tell the truth–not even the ones who’ve seen it all. But there are a few nurses who have this demeanor, and they all make my pulse race with admiration. I have always wanted to be like that.

But then there’s me. I am the stereotypical ISFJ personality type, sensitive on the inside, logical on the outside, and so incredibly, stupidly caring. I care about everything, especially when it comes to the well-being of others. It’s probably why I love nursing so much. It gives me such satisfaction to take care of people.

Reading that last sentence makes me a bit nauseous. Yep, I’m that girl…

I recently cared for a patient who was slowly dying of cancer. She was young, not much older than me. I went into her hospital room to inform her of an upcoming procedure she would have done later that day. I explained the procedure carefully, making sure that she understood why and how it would occur. I was about to leave her room when her dam of stress and pain and sickness broke. “I’m just so tired,” she choked out between sobs.

What do you say to that? Everything is going to be fine. But it’s probably not. God has a plan. And apparently, his plan for you is a slow, painful death. Just try to stay positive. Yep, I’m sure she’s not sick of hearing that by now.

They (you know, the all-knowing “they”) say that sometimes the right words don’t exist, that all you can do is sit in the silence and acknowledge the pain.

I think that sounds so stupid.

Guess what, though? I did just that. I squatted down next to her bed and grabbed her hand. She squeezed my hand tightly as she continued to cry. I don’t know how long I sat there, silently blinking back my own tears. When she had finished crying, I mumbled something about how brave she was. Leaving the room afterward was awkward. I didn’t want to leave her alone.

If you are studying for the big NCLEX test, those looming state boards that will grant you your nursing license, you know this already:

physical always takes priority over psychosocial.

Sometimes that’s true. Often, it’s a bunch of crap. People are a big, jumbled mess of complex problems, and if you think all those problems are physical, you are in for a big surprise.

And to be a good nurse, I mean a really good nurse, you have to take care of the whole patient. Sometimes you’re the mean nurse who doesn’t let that patient manipulate you into over-medicating them with narcotics. Sometimes you’re the sensitive nurse who talks to the dementia patient about their cats at home. Sometimes you’re the badass nurse who holds it together after losing a patient. Sometimes you’re the nurse who sits in the supply closet after shift change and cries because oh my GOD that shift was awful.

I’m learning that I don’t want to just be the badass nurse. I want to be all those nurses. I want to take good, quality care of my patients.

My dad used to tell me how important it was to him to be able to tell a patient’s family members that he and his team did everything they could for that patient, no matter the outcome. My goal is to be able to go home after a shift, crawl into bed next to my husband and know that I did everything that I could for my patients. Even if it meant that I wasn’t a  cool, badass nurse that day.

P.S.: Night shift is working havoc on my body and my FM has been flaring something fierce. A post about that is coming soon!


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