Love Being a Nurse: 33 Years and Going Strong

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    In this article, the author discusses her nursing career and asks the reader to share some personal insights.

    Love Being a Nurse: 33 Years and Going Strong

    Love Being a Nurse: 33 Years and Going Strong

    I pushed my computer top down hearing the satisfying “click” as a sign of the end of my work day. I moved around the counter in the kitchen and fixed a hot cup of tea, pausing to stir in a bit of honey, before taking that first sip. Leaning against the counter, I thought back over my day, working as a Parish Nurse in the morning and making hospice visits for a local hospice company in the afternoon. I smiled thinking how blessed I am to be able to work two jobs and have them blend together well.

    I thought back over the years and remembered my very first days as a young nurse at an inner city hospital where I was hired to work nights on pediatrics. Even now, all these years later, I shiver to think of all that could have gone wrong. For experience teaches us one lesson well: the most dangerous nurse is the one that doesn’t know that she doesn’t know. Somehow, I was able to connect with a mentor who helped me learn and prioritize and become more proficient not just at skills but at making those all-important judgement calls.

    Moving from Peds to Med-Surg helped to broaden my perspective and taught me how to work with a team approach. When I started out, we used paper charts and spent a good deal of time designing care plans for our patients. While I sometimes questioned the day-to-day usefulness of what we did, it certainly helped inculcate in my mind what was important: monitoring change and knowing which changes to focus on.

    A few years later, home health became a good continued training ground, helping me to think critically and to see the patient as more than a diagnosis or a room number. Patients now became family members, part of a bigger picture that involved others in their recovery or decline. Using nursing interventions to help patients rehab at home, I began to put even more pieces of the puzzle of health together. I learned to accept more, judge less; I learned to see beyond what was said; I learned to know and recognize limits of care and also to see unbounded potential.

    Parish Nursing came into the picture of my nursing career when my personal life demanded even more flexibility. With three small children, I found the early and late hours very difficult and was thrilled to learn that such a thing as parish nursing even existed! Starting out as one of the first in the training class in our area back in 1997, the challenges and rewards of this field have continued to hold my interest over the years. The variety is endless between health promotion, disease prevention and nurturing the needy, the job is more than a position, it is a calling. While the leadership of my congregation comes and goes, the relationship building as a nursing professional and a caring individual continue to be rewarding.

    Parish Nurses work in several models: paid, stipend-paid, and volunteer. My program pays a stipend and is associated with the local health system. I work 20 hours a week at my church doing visitation at home and in the hospital, designing and promoting health maintenance programs, and serving as a patient-advocate. Each day is different and demands intense flexibility and willingness to respond to a large variety of situations. Many times, I become involved with eldercare issues, with the care of the dying and with the mourning that takes place after the death.

    As our last child headed off to college, I began to look around for another nursing job that could help fill the financial cracks that tuition seemed to open up. When my sister-in-law died in the hospice house in our area, I felt sure that this was just where I needed to be. Hospice work blended well with my parish nursing and the home visits, the care of the dying and the whole-family aspects were simply a continuation of parish nursing and home health. Working prn for hospice pulls from all my years of experience: skills in assessment, nursing judgement, and teamwork all play a part in my work as a part time hospice nurse.

    What are some of the stand-out lessons of this long career?

    1. The relationships matter the most. As the saying goes, “No one cares what you know until they know that you care.”
    2. Kindness and compassion go on forever and pay out the biggest dividends in your own life.
    3. Staying up-to-date and becoming an expert in your field is both energizing and essential to long-term survival as a nurse. Graduation is just the beginning of the learning process!
    4. Everything will change. The more we lean into it and move with it, the happier we will be—not that all change is for the good, but we have a better long term prognosis as nursing professionals if we are willing to look change straight in the face and address it.
    5. We all make mistakes. Being willing to own our mistakes, to do our best to correct them and then to learn from them and move on will help us have long-lasting and satisfying careers.


    What about you? Where have you been on your nursing journey? What would you add to my list of “stand-out” lessons?

    As I set my tea cup in the sink, I looked out the window in time to see the sun sink over the horizon. Gratefully, I took off my work badge and set it aside, ready to regroup for another day!
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    About jeastridge

    Joy is a parish nurse and a part time hospice nurse. She enjoys walking, cooking and spending time with her grandkids.

    Joined Jan '15; Posts: 223; Likes: 748.

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    12 Comments

  3. by   al3x117
    Such a solid article!!! Thank you for this!
  4. by   Buyer beware
    OP,
    I love me dog.
  5. by   Libby1987
    My experience pretty much aligns with yours, except mine has been all home health minus the initial couple of years of inpatient. Coming on 30 years in 2017.

    I was 23 when I entered home health and first few years were bumpy but I stuck with it and grew to love and thrive in it.

    I love the work the longer I'm in it. I suppose that's from a combination of experience and emotional maturity. Well, that and having grown kids that don't need me home at a certain time. I can still get home when I need to but not having the pressure eliminates a lot of stress, ironically making the day smoother and shorter.

    Biggest lesson for me, thinking outward of myself, setting a goal that has nothing to do with me and everything with what I want to accomplish by the end of the visit, the day, the POC.. I get more done and with more satisfaction when I think that way. In years past I would have been twisted up with impatience and frustration. That is the most inefficient backwards way of working and I'm grateful for the wisdom of going about it differently.
  6. by   Longleggedstar
    Beautiful article, I had no idea something like Parish Nursing existed and I love the quotes especially the one that stated "No one cares what you know, until they know that you care".
  7. by   prnqday
    Loved this article. I pray I can have just as a long and rewarding career as you. 8 years down and forever to go. I still love being a nurse. Even though many of the COB would tell me to come back to them 10 years later and tell them what I think. Well Ruby and Green tea I love love love being a nurse and I still believe that nurses should always be compassionate and when they are no longer compassionate, they need to find a new job.
  8. by   foggnm
    Thanks for all your years of nursing service. I think people who can love nursing after many years are truly special/gifted humans. Patients need nurses that love their career.
  9. by   stillcrazymama
    Great article! 40 years of nursing for me. Two and a half years ago I returned to hospital nursing after 10 years of working in schools. I love your "stand-out" lessons- they are all so important. Like you, I would encourage my fellow nurses to embrace change, generosity, and forgiveness.
  10. by   jeastridge
    Quote from Libby1987
    My experience pretty much aligns with yours, except mine has been all home health minus the initial couple of years of inpatient. Coming on 30 years in 2017.

    I was 23 when I entered home health and first few years were bumpy but I stuck with it and grew to love and thrive in it.

    I love the work the longer I'm in it. I suppose that's from a combination of experience and emotional maturity. Well, that and having grown kids that don't need me home at a certain time. I can still get home when I need to but not having the pressure eliminates a lot of stress, ironically making the day smoother and shorter.

    Biggest lesson for me, thinking outward of myself, setting a goal that has nothing to do with me and everything with what I want to accomplish by the end of the visit, the day, the POC.. I get more done and with more satisfaction when I think that way. In years past I would have been twisted up with impatience and frustration. That is the most inefficient backwards way of working and I'm grateful for the wisdom of going about it differently.
    Thank you for your response. I liked what you said, "not having the pressure eliminates a lot of stress, ironically making the day smoother and shorter." Such truth and wisdom in your words. Joy
  11. by   jeastridge
    Quote from stillcrazymama
    Great article! 40 years of nursing for me. Two and a half years ago I returned to hospital nursing after 10 years of working in schools. I love your "stand-out" lessons- they are all so important. Like you, I would encourage my fellow nurses to embrace change, generosity, and forgiveness.
    Thank you for your comment. 40 years is a great record and inspires us all. Congratulations! Joy
  12. by   jeastridge
    Quote from foggnm
    Thanks for all your years of nursing service. I think people who can love nursing after many years are truly special/gifted humans. Patients need nurses that love their career.
    Well said. "Patients need nurses that love their career." We don't have to be peppy and cheerful every day but if we exhibit integrity in our care and are genuine people, through and through, then that attitude will transmit into excellence in nursing. Joy
  13. by   jeastridge
    Quote from prnqday
    Loved this article. I pray I can have just as a long and rewarding career as you. 8 years down and forever to go. I still love being a nurse. Even though many of the COB would tell me to come back to them 10 years later and tell them what I think. Well Ruby and Green tea I love love love being a nurse and I still believe that nurses should always be compassionate and when they are no longer compassionate, they need to find a new job.
    You make a good point. Long term nursing is not the career for everyone. And that's ok. I remember when one of my children had a teacher that should have left that career--she exhibited all sorts of burnout--I made a mental note that if I ever felt like that, I would find a new career. The beautiful thing about nursing is that there is so much room to grow and spread our wings to maximize how we use our strengths. Again, thank you for your comment. Joy
  14. by   jeastridge
    Quote from Longleggedstar
    Beautiful article, I had no idea something like Parish Nursing existed and I love the quotes especially the one that stated "No one cares what you know, until they know that you care".
    Like you, I had no idea that Parish Nursing existed until I read a job add in my church newsletter 20 years ago. I remember circling it in ink and writing on the side, "My dream job." Turns out I was right! It's very cool!

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