All throughout my childhood, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. I remember playing with my plastic stethoscope and mapping out the dream estate that my millions of dollars would buy for me and my family.
Through high school, I ended up working as a pharmacy technician for a retail pharmacy, which made me decide that pharmacy school was the path I should follow; realizing all the legality and time-limitations (in patient care) that doctors faced turned me off to medicine.
So, I applied to my dream college, which was a liberal arts schools as pre-pharmacy, but very shortly after starting my first semester of chemistry, I decided that I couldn’t do another 11 semesters of those classes (sick).
So, I talked to my college friends, most of whom were nursing majors, and decided that I could see myself as a nurse. I switched my major, did a semester of summer school to get caught up with pre-requisites, and then my nursing major was officially underway.
Obtaining my bachelor’s degree in nursing was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be- the courses and instructors were tough and the schedule was grueling. I worked 32-36 hours a week at a retail store, held a full load of academic courses, plus 16 hours of nursing clinicals a week (that required me to wake up at 4:30 am to get to our clinical sites that were an hour away).
Graduation was an extremely proud day for me- I had survived 4 years of nursing school, I had already accepted a job in a CVICU on the other side of the country (school in central Illinois, career in Phoenix, AZ), and life was good.
After starting my career in the CVICU, I was positive that I picked the right career path. I love the autonomy that is provided to CVICU nurses- we have ordersets that allow us to provide the best care to our patients, especially the post open heart surgery patients. We have great working relationships with physicians and there is generally a lot of trust and mutual decision making.
HOW TO COME HOME HAPPY
One of my recent struggles related to work is learning to come home in a good mood. Most days, it’s not an issue and I leave work in a good (or at least mediocre) mood. But, every once in awhile I’ll have a day where I walk out of the hospital less than enthused about going back for another shift.
This can happen because of a number of reasons: the death of a patient who I had grown close to, prolonged interaction with a difficult physician, scrutiny from difficult family members, abusive treatment from a patient, or caring for a patient who is just not getting better despite all of my effort and ideas, etc.
I don’t like coming home only to unload my bad day on someone who doesn’t deserve my negativity, but it can often take a lot of energy/work to refrain from doing so. I’d love to be able to come home each and every day with a smile on my face, ready to do whatever needs to be done, and be supportive to those in my tight-knit circle.
I wish I had the quickfix… the answer to help guide others into having a more positive attitude after a long, difficult, and draining day at the hospital… but I don’t. The answer comes directly from one’s general outlook – is the glass half empty or half full?
We all need to adopt the thought process of “no matter how bad my day was at work today, it would have been worse for someone else if I wasn’t there” (another nurse who had to pick up a heavier assignment, the patient who would have had to wait longer for nursing care, etc). Each and every day we go to work, we are making an impact. That’s all we, as nurses, can hope for.