Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turning Corners

This semester, for whatever reason, has been hard on my self esteem and psychological well being. It has seemed almost as if the design has been to humble me into knowing exactly how much I do NOT know, and perhaps that is the case. There is a saying that there are few things more dangerous than a brand new healthcare provider who is overly confident and full of themselves. Well, I can assure you, no danger of that going on here.

On top of the mistakes, the mental confusion, the inability to think as fast on my feet as I would like to be able to do is just an overwhelming load of busywork. The paperwork in nursing school is endless, as are the reading assignments, and the exams are designed to be confusing, difficult and distracting. It takes everything you have and frequently requires a degree of mental and physical stamina that you don't have. I have been suffering from a great deal of low self esteem and self doubt through most of this semester. But I feel like I have turned a bit of a corner this week.

My clinicals this past Tuesday assigned me to NICU. This is not an area of nursing I have ever had any real interest in. It is super specialized and not terribly diverse, meaning if I were to go into it, chances are it is all I would ever do. Added to that is the honest self admission that I am not the baby freak that so many people are. There are tons and tons of people who ONLY want to work with babies or children. Now, I like holding a baby as much as the next person. My heart is just as melted by a sweet little face and tiny fingers and toes as the next. I just didn't see that as my population of choice for doing care. Frankly, it is a little bit scary, the teensy tiny dosages given to these kids who weigh so little. The chance for an error being absolutely deadly is huge. In any case, I went into my NICU day curious, ready to learn, a little bit intimidated and kind of with a sense of it being a day of "bonus" learning, as even if I wanted to do NICU, so does everyone else on the planet. New grad opportunities for nurses are few and far between as it is. Add in a high desire position and the chances would be next to nothing. (Yes, you heard me right - new grad nurses cannot find work. There IS no nursing shortage and all of us nurses, new and experienced, wish that myth would die. I'll cover that in another blog entry sometime.)

In any case, to make a long story short, I had a very good day. My patient was very sick, my mentor nurse was an insanely good teacher, and suddenly so many things that have been hammered at me in class and in clinicals clicked. I do not know that it changes my career plans or makes me want to be a NICU nurse per se, but it was pretty amazing that a patient this complicated is what made things suddenly make sense that didn't really before. When doing my care map for my patient, the data clustering suddenly came easily and pointed out my priority problems and actions like a big red flag. I got my paperwork done in record time and felt like I got things "right" that I might have missed before. I could have made that care map ten miles long, there was so much information to use. Fortunately we are limited to three priority problems to solve. But it just has amazed me and filled me with greater inner peace for this experience in which I didn't have a big emotional investment should be the one that made logical sense and took me past that large, growing self doubt and into a new world in which competency was actually visible on the distant horizon. I swear I heard a bell ring. Ding ding ding, she's getting it!

So I have gone to a peaceful place inside. I have one job offer in a cardiac unit, but have identified at least two other floors I would be willing to entertain working on - the Clinical Decision Unit and NICU. I get to go to L&D next week, which has interested me for a long time. It is nice to feel the world wide open with intriguing things to entertain. I may not get what I want directly out of school - few do these days - but I am glad to see I am not limited in my interest level to just one area of nursing. I have a renewed sense of trust inside that I am called to this career for a reason and that I will land where I am supposed to go for the next step in what I am supposed to do. And given all the internal chaos I have been feeling all semester, that feels pretty relieving.


karen gerstenberger said...

This makes me happy, because I agree that you are called, and that you will be a wonderful caregiver. Perhaps the awareness you gained in the NICU will help guide your decision about where to begin your service as a brand-new nurse. Having job offers already in place is a wonderful affirmation, isn't it? xoxo

Karen said...

What a nice corner to turn! After all your hard work, and "heart work", it is nice to see some light on the horizon. Happy for you.