Dear incoming class of nurses...
When my accountant saw my W-2, he asked why I would be willing to be an educator for such a small amount of money. I explained that money is not everything, as I am already rich. When a former student calls me to say that they have just started their doctoral program, I am rich. When I see a graduating class walk across the stage at pinning, I am rich. And, more than at any other time, I am rich when I see a brand new group of students at orientation. New students are potential, and the future of nursing. Welcome!
I just watched you all walk in to orientation and am already excited to meet you. As I watch you enter, I can see the hopes, dreams, and nervousness on your faces. You feel uncertain and scared. You feel excited and hopeful. Me too. It's different for me though. This is your dream, and your future. I have already achieved most of my dreams.
They told me when I first started that this would wear off. It never has. Each year I watch and wait, wondering what things you will accomplish, both as a class and as individuals. I can almost guarantee that at some point each of you will make me want to bang my head against a wall in frustration as you occasionally fall short of your potential. Each of you will make me want to take out an ad to celebrate when you often exceed that potential.
Like every class, you are a mystery at the start. Who will excel academically? Who will be the first to make me cry when I watch you, unseen, as you hold a lonely patient's hand? I always try to listen and observe you even when you don't know it. I'm looking to "catch" you doing your best, going past the point that you were told by others that you could never reach, and succeeding. I know you can do it.
I have the advantage of experience, of some hard fought wisdom gained through years of watching someone take their first breath, and being the only one there as they take their last. You have the advantage of a fresh perspective, of continual excitement to try something new. We will both teach each other a lot over the next two years.
I will be here as you make your first mistake in nursing, to teach you a better way, and to keep you from beating yourself up. You're far from the only one to make mistakes. I will be here when you have your first major success, when you realize that you are the only one a certain patient responds to. I can only hope I am there when you realize that nursing can be so much more than just a job where you punch a clock. Although it is incredibly demanding and maddening at times, it is worth it when you make even a small difference in someone's life.
Two short years are all I have with you. That's not a long time to teach someone their potential, to show them their strengths, and to coach them in overcoming any weaknesses. It's not a lot of time to tell you all that a nurse does, and to model compassion. There are never enough hours in the day, and all we can do is make the best use of the time we have together.
So for two years, I will keep watch over you, wanting the best for you. But don't be surprised when I cry at your graduation. It's not that I'm not happy for you. On the contrary; it's a real joy to watch the future of nursing walk across the stage, even though it necessitates your walking away from two of the best/worst/most challenging years of your life, all wrapped up into one experience. When I say I already have achieved most of my dreams, I mean you. Successful students are what I always dreamed of. I've known for a long time that this was the career for me, and it took a lot of hard work to get here, but it's worth it when I know I played some small role in your ability to achieve your dreams.
Good luck class, I truly hope you go on to make nursing all that it was intended to be. Sincerely, your instructorLast edit by Joe V on Apr 18, '14
Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 1,011; Likes: 3,351
Nurse!; from US
15 year(s) of experience in ER, ICU, EducationMay 20, '09Wow...this sounds like it could have come out of the mouth of my favorite instructor in. I was just pinned today and I know I'll be back in about a year to start pursue my dream of teaching nursing students (MSN in nursing education) and doing like great instructors do.
It's very sweet and encouraging of you to post this "letter". Your students must love to have you and it sounds like you enjoy your job very, very much. :heartbeatMay 20, '09that was so heartfelt. if only this message could have been given to every student on orientation day.May 21, '09Thank you so much. That summed everything up in a perfect nutshell. Ever since orientation I have been so scared and worried, but this is my dream and I will do my very best to succeed and be the best nurse I can be. Again, thank you.May 21, '09That's really great. As a nursing student its nice to know that their are instructors like you out there. Thanks!
!ChrisMay 21, '09That was beautiful. You should think about submitting this to the writers of the Chicken Soup series. They have a couple Chicken Soups for the Nurses Soul and I think this would be a perfect fit!May 21, '09I just had orientation yesterday, so that hit pretty close to home. It was awesome to read, and I am glad I am not the only one who got a little misty reading it. Luckily I have allergies, and can play that off
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