Give them some love.
To start, I just want to give a HUGE shoutout to anyone and everyone in the nursing field. Whether it be a nursing assistant, a patient care tech, or a registered nurse, it’s a hard, hard job. On top of all the responsibilities, the patient load, the busy schedule and working holidays, there is so much more. I think most nurses are saints in scrubs. They are the people that roll their sleeves up every day and deal with the nitty, gritty, nasty (literally and figuratively) of patient care. It may be a mess of bodily fluids, or a mess of emotions - nurses don’t shy away.
I have many friends who are RNs. I have also worked alongside some phenomenal RNs during my time as a nursing assistant. And, I know many devoted patient care techs and nursing assistants - whom I consider to be nurses, as well. And I don’t think any of them get the recognition and respect they deserve. None of them expect anything from anyone, but they deserve some love. Unfortunately, they often receive very little love… from patients and family members who fail to appreciate their work and commitment, to coworkers who degrade them as if they are inferior or stupid because they don’t have a particular degree. I have now witnessed this first-hand. Sure, not every nurse out there puts his/her best foot forward, but so many of them do. I have witnessed patients being angry and/or rude to nurses because their lunch tray was left in their room until 12:30, they want to get out of bed but are on bedrest to avoid blowing an incision, the ambulance driver arrived 10 minutes too early to transport them to the nursing home, and so many other reasons. Don’t get me wrong: I completely understand that being in the hospital is not a fun time, and some patients may be experiencing the worst day of their lives. However, I know that I never want to forget what this is like. I never want to take healthcare providers for granted. Everything they do is for the best interest and outcomes of their patients. See, when that bedrest patient yells at his nurse because “being in the hospital is the closest thing to being in jail”, even though she has explained the critical importance of remaining in bed to his recovery, his words and tone sting. And though it hurts her, and she may need to go cry in a back room for 2 minutes, she will return to his room over and over to deliver the best care. And when that patient complains about how “ridiculous it is that the lunch tray is still here” even though she finished eating 10 minutes ago, the patient care tech will be frustrated. He will probably even think to himself, “Yes, but I have 11 other patients besides you. So I couldn’t be here the moment you finished eating to remove your tray.” But he won’t say it. He will bite his tongue, smile, and ask if there is anything else that she needs at the moment. Because these are the things that nurses do.
I’ve also seen nurses offer a giant hug to a patient who is grieving over the fact that he must choose a nursing home over his own home; nurses who secretly order snacks as a surprise for the adult children of a dying patient; nurses who weep in the corner for a patient they have been fighting to keep alive; nurses who spent “an absurd amount of time” with a single patient, making sure he is clean and comfortable when he isn’t able to do this for himself. Even when they are under-appreciated, over-worked, and sleep-deprived, I have seen nurses be heroes.
So, for every painful experience each nurse out there has endured, I want to say, “Thank you.” And, I want to remind myself, and everyone else reading, to never forget how incredible nurses are. Because even though it’s hard, they dig in. And even though it hurts, their hearts remain big, and their smiles remain bright.
These are my reflections as I come to the end of my time working at UPMC. Yes, it has only been a couple months, but I know I have been called elsewhere. And though I have loved taking care of my patients - even the rude ones - my season of being a nurse assistant is ending. Even still, I just couldn’t leave without writing about my observations and experiences.
A nurse no longer.
So here’s the update on me: As difficult as it is for me to leave, I have discovered that healthcare is not my place. I’ve thought for several years now that I was meant to be in direct patient care within the healthcare setting - I have a mind for it, and I absolutely love learning about and understanding the workings of the human body. I also find so much joy in helping family and friends learn to take better care of themselves - understanding medical tests, creating and keeping a healthy lifestyle, and solving everyday minor medical issues. However, as I have been working in the hospital these past couple months, I have realized that, though healthcare might be something I enjoy, it is not meant to be my career. What I love most is simply being with people: listening, loving, and being present. I have also missed the psychological emphasis. I know now that I want to help people with behavior, emotions, mindfullness, coping, relationships, and cognition. While there is certainly a place for these things in the hospital, it’s not the main purpose. I hate running in and out of patient rooms… feeling like I don’t have time to stop and listen because I have five other things to do in the next 15 minutes. I also struggle with the schedule. I desire to be a fully-present wife. This is very difficult to do when Timothy and I both have inconsistent schedules. On top of that, I’ve learned that I am a lot more squeamish than I thought I was. These seem like issues that could be worked through… so I started praying…
For several weeks, I have been praying that God would give me discernment for His calling on my life. I asked Him specifically to show me things I have a natural liking for, and things for which I have a natural distaste. I also asked Him to show me specifically if my heart was leaning toward healthcare or toward a counseling/psychology emphasis. Not even a full day after I began praying this prayer, He started delivering… and I could not have asked for anything to be any more clear. Day after day, He showed me a picture of where I should be… and a picture of where I should not. When I was offered a position as a Behavioral Therapist at The Hope Learning Center in Wexford, I knew I needed to accept. It was so difficult for me to give my notice at UPMC, simply because many of the nurses there are so wonderful… I did not want to leave them. At the same time, it was freeing. For the first time since I started college in 2011, I have conviction for where I belong. I now have confidence in the career path I am pursing. I no longer feel a sense of failure for not continuing in healthcare.
So, I begin yet another new journey. Timothy and I have been in a constant state of change since the day we got married, but we praise God for His direction. I have been meaning to start writing again ever since we moved to Pennsylvania… but the time keeps getting away from me. So, my goal now is to keep it up. I want to continue recording and sharing all the things God is doing… and all the things we are learning along the way.
Hi, I'm Katie... just a girl, living this adventure for the glory of God. Thanks for reading!