Nursing School Won't Teach You These Things (Part 3)

  1. Nursing students become immersed in the art and science of the profession during the time spent in nursing school. Bluntly, two facets of nursing coexist. There's a textbook world of nursing alongside a real world of nursing, and sometimes these two worlds brutally clash. This is the third piece in a three-part essay.

    Nursing School Won't Teach You These Things (Part 3)

    Nursing students have the unique, amazing chance to immerse themselves in the art and science of nursing as they formally learn about the emerging profession. However, there are unspoken aspects of nursing that are very unlikely to ever be captured in any textbook or mentioned during any academic lecture.

    Two very dissimilar worlds of nursing exist. There's the textbook world of nursing where all procedural skills are performed meticulously and by the book, members of the multidisciplinary team behave professionally, patient outcomes are excellent, and the patients' families are truly appreciative of all the care that has been rendered.

    Then there's a real world of nursing that frequently seems contrary to the principles we've been taught in school.

    Nursing School Won't Teach You These Things (Part 1) of this three part series contains a compilation of aspects that characterize many workplace settings in the real world of nursing.

    Nursing School Won't Teach You These Things (Part 2) continues in a strikingly similar vein. Be mindful that your mileage may vary once you obtain your first position as a registered nurse (RN) or practical nurse (LPN/LVN).

    Being a good employee is not the same thing as being a good nurse.

    I credit the longtime member ZASHAGALKA with the aforementioned quote. Anyhow, the unfortunate events that have recently transpired at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas somewhat illustrate this tenet. As many of you know, Dallas-area nurse Briana Aguirre is the Texas Presbyterian employee who blew the whistle on the facility's lack of preparedness and faulty infection control protocol, which might have resulted in two other nurses contracting Ebola virus disease.

    Briana Aguirre is a good nurse for blowing the whistle and voicing her concerns. However, I can almost unequivocally guarantee that Texas Health Resources (the corporation that owns and operates Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital) does not consider her a good employee. In general, the managerial and administrative figureheads who run healthcare facilities prefer employees who do not bring negative attention to the hospital.

    Retaliation is not always blatant.

    In previous interviews, Briana Aguirre has stated that she fears losing her job and even mentioned on national television that she is paychecks away from not being able to pay her mortgage. However, retaliation is not always as blatant as having one's employment terminated immediately after engaging in whistle-blowing activities.

    Managerial members of staff will instead take subtle, but legal, steps to ensure that conditions are so miserable for the outspoken employee that he/she will want to voluntarily separate from the company in short order. They'll often subject the nurse to questionable last-minute scheduling changes, force him/her to float to undesirable departments, and issue written warnings for trivial issues to establish a paper trail.

    Some would say, "The union won't allow this kind of retaliation!" Before you jump to that conclusion, be cognizant that only 20 percent of RNs in the US are unionized.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    This idiom is closely related to the previous two points. Essentially, this means life contains its fair share of injustices, and the people who do the right things are often punished. We sometimes see this occur in the nursing profession. Unfortunately, the nurses who are extremely honest and ethical to a fault may end up with a bulls-eye on their backs if someone feels threatened by them.

    Human life is temporal and finite.

    Patients can be here today and gone tonight. Your favorite colleague, with whom you enjoyed coffee in the break room, might not report to work ever again. One of my longtime coworkers lost her battle to cancer a few days ago when, just last month, she was answering call lights with cheer. And, at the beginning of this past summer, one of my former colleagues died secondary to a vehicular collision that occurred as he was driving to work. He left behind a wife and two infant twin sons.

    This is a reminder that human life comes and goes with fluidity. Therefore, be nice to your classmates, instructors, coworkers, patients and others. You do not want their last living memories of you to be filled with negativity. Always ensure that your interactions are filled with professionalism and guided by the Golden Rule to treat others as you'd want to be treated.
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 4, '18
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    About TheCommuter, BSN, RN

    TheCommuter is a moderator of and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,032; Likes: 69,287
    CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
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  3. by   817nurse
    Some good deeds are rewarded. I like to think most people still have goodness in their hearts.
  4. by   amoLucia
    Went back to re-read Parts 1 & 2. This entry just adds to your collection of right-on observations. Glad to see another article of yours.