Fight Nursing Stress Through Inspiration
Have you ever asked yourself "Do I work in the sickest, most unhealthy environment that anyone can work in OR do I actually work in the theater of the unsung hero in which the human will is constantly waiting to inspire me?"
In other words, as nurses we see the terrible effects of disease on the human body and the human spirit. And sometimes it's easy to slip into focusing only on the negative. But if you do that, then you're at risk of becoming bitter and resentful and missing out on a priceless opportunity to see the triumphant human will at its best.
There are always going to be those patients that have embraced their illness like it's their best friend...the ones that know that their hospitalization is sort of like a free pass to getting as many narcotics and other drugs as possible. They are the patients who carefully calculate when their next dose of Benedryl and Dilaudid are due and then asked you to post it on the dry erase board in their room so they don't forget when to call you.
Patient like these can make nurses skeptical and hardened. Remember, the nurse was taught in that the patient's perception of pain is always right...but these types of patients just seem to cause her busy work through their selfish manipulation of her time. Slowly, if she doesn't watch herself closely, the nurse can sink into the feeling that all she's doing is catering to a population who represents the worst of human will.
Instead, the nurse must look around her environment and really take in all the victories on display. The nurse needs to recognize the glorious human spirit embodied in the other patients she takes care of who are truly in the hospital to heal or to make peace with their diagnosis and somehow make the best of it.
Let these patients be your teachers! They may come in the form of your 78-year-old patient with a new colostomy and a new terminal diagnosis of ovarian cancer. See how she gracefully pushes her IV pole through the hallway, smiling and making kind small talk with the staff. Notice it when she later requests a chair to be set up near the picturesque window down the hall so that she can do some free-hand painting. Watch as she sits there near the window in all her glory as she treasures the here and now.
Listen to her as she explains, "I told the doctor that I don't want chemo. I'm 78-years-old. My quality of life is more important to me than trying to squeak out a couple more years with chemo. I know what I want. I want to travel a little more and do my painting. I love to paint and if I can do that I will be happy."
Instead of wanting her perception to be dulled and drugged, she demands that her full faculties are present and available to her so that she can "catch the light just right" as reflected in her painting. One glance at her artwork and you'll know she is your teacher and you are her student.
Although she's only seven days post-op, she denies any pain and requests no pain medication whatsoever. She's not there to use the system and ultimately lose part of her dignity...she's there to recover and then go home where she can cherish each moment of the rest of her life with her dignity INTACT.
This is the human will at its best. This is the combination of courage and self-respect that we, as nurses, have the privilege of witnessing. We are the chosen spectators. We get to see the splendor of human will at its best as it embraces life and richly appreciates what time there is left.
As nurses, we have a choice of which patients we learn from. Will we learn from the patients who are teaching us about the dark side of the human will? Or will we learn from the patients who are teaching us about the victorious side of the human will?
Ask yourself which patients will I remember? And Why do I remember them...what did they teach me about the human will? How did they inspire me and what will I do with that inspiration in their honor...
Recognize that behind all the stress of bedside nursing is an opportunity to get a glimpse at human will as it triumphs over adversity with dignity intact. Take a moment to realize that you chose to be put there for a reason. You are an honored guest in the theater of the unsung hero.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 10, '15
Apr 16, '08Personally, I really appreciate your article, it's very useful in encouraging other people. Stress and eventually burn out will ruin our perspective on our nursing career. Nurses have different perspectives, if you only look on the doing-your-job and getting-paid part, you'll end up seeing your patients are burden but on the other side of the coin, if you will look at your job as an opportunity to reach-out and help other people, you'll see every moment spent with them very fulfilling.
I'm not speaking here as a great professional with years of experience because actually I had just graduated my second course which is nursing. And in the years of my clinical experience, touching other peoples lives is really satisfying and fulfilling and no amount of money could replace that feeling.
Let's all try to be a significant part of our patient's lives, let's not think of what they can do for us, but rather what we can do in our own little ways to help them out with their situation, after all we exist because of them.
Thank you for the great article...Apr 18, '08I retired from the VA hospital after 34 year of nursing care to our Vets. and can say that we as Nurses are in the best position to carry out GOD"S will of helping others.
I was able to treat many CA. pt. with iv chemo drugs and saw many pts. call upon their higher power and the nurse for confort and guidence.
We were put on this earth to reach out and help others in need and in that process GOD is blessing us. Stress can be reduced when you know that you are doing GOD"S will in our lives.:bowingpurApr 19, '08wonderful message.. i'm pretty sure u really got a big heart. you are truly a nurse by heart
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