Published Aug 2, 2009
I have just finished my UAP course (A requirement for this nursing school). I had three clinical days where I had a chance to take care of patients. I loved it! I know nursing is for me. There is no body secretion out there that can make me squeamish. This is my problem, I am getting very attached to the patients. I find myself not being able to sleep at night worrying about these patients that I spent 2 hours, tops, with. It has been a few days and I still can't get them off my mind. Is this just because this is new to me? Some people say over time I will become numb, however that is not something I want. I want to be compassionate and caring without bringing my "work" home with me. Any suggestions?
I don't agree that one eventually becomes numb, I have been in this field, first as a CNA, for many years and I am still caring and compassionate. I do think that eventually you will learn to not let it consume you during times with your family, but it is normal to think about every so often. Sounds like this is your calling. Good Luck.
Trishalishus, PhD, CNS
I agree with CeCe and would also add, remember you are doing health care work. If you didn't care I wouldn't want you looking after me or mine. Mulling over things that have affected you is normal - you are processing new experiences. You'll do it less as you become more familiar with the role. But I suspect all good nurses still wake up at 3am occasionally, thinking, "Aha! I need to do suchandsuch for soandso tomorrow!"
I've recently taken a leave of absence from my nursing home and I still visit my residents once a week and worry about them when they're sick - just like anyone else I care about. And I still think of the ones who've died. That's honouring their memory, neh? As you get older you will become more familiar with the grief of loss - and maybe you'll decide that the grief balances the pleasure you've had in someone's company? In other words - your patients/residents are people first and clients second; stay professional - very few will (or should) become best friends - but keep caring as part of your profession.
Go for it! Enjoy! Obsess all you like - your friends and family will tell you once it's become neurotic - their eyes will glaze over and they'll start edging away from you.
Tait, MSN, RN
First off, I work in a hospital. I do get attached to patients, meaning there are some I want to take care of when I come back, and there are some I don't. There are some patients I will visit after open heart surgery, there are some I will stop in by if I don't have them for the night and say hi.
I enjoy my patients, their experiences, taking care of them and seeing them get well. I do not wake up at 3am anymore thinking of things I missed. I think that happened to me twice in my whole career thus far.
I do feel this "obsessive" phase will reduce as your practice, not because you don't care but because you will know each day you have done everything you can for your patient. As a nurse you have so many more avenues of care for your patients, and with that so much more responsibility. I find that the only way to stay sane in a profession with so much responsibility, is to always be aware it is there, but to never dwell on it.
I keep myself very organized, I utilize the minds of my co-workers, I trust that when I leave my co-workers will continue on with strong care, and I am never afraid to leave a detailed typed note on the front of chart addressing very specific issues I come across with a patient. Even if it is just about a preferred sleeping pill.
If you find after a few months you are still staying up at night, worrying, or thinking about patients, then I would suggest talking with someone. I do not believe in letting obsessions get out of check, and I believe strongly in self-reflection as a method for improvement.
Best of luck in your career and get some sleep, big things are ahead!
PS. Here is a link to my article on how my attachment to a patient did affect my life, in a very profound and positive way. I am not saying attachments aren't good, just out of check obsessions.
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