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Hardest Thing to Learn

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Surgical Floor.

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What is the thing that has been the hardest to learn for you as a nurse over your career? Early on, midway, or late. 

I've been an RN just over a year now, and for me one of the most difficult things has been learning to be assertive. I still find it difficult as I was very timid growing up. I'm getting better especially when I keep in mind it's for my patients' well being (I.e. ambulating after surgery, sc heparin/injections, q2 turns, etc).

morelostthanfound

Specializes in CVOR/General Surgery.

Almost 30 year career RN here.  My advice-pay less attention to the technical aspects of nursing and instead focus more on the interpersonal dimensions.  Start by being kind to yourself and others, be your best and practice self love and acceptance:)

 

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

6 hours ago, Okey Foley said:

What is the thing that has been the hardest to learn for you as a nurse over your career?

No matter how hard I try, I cannot fix stupid.

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

For me the hardest thing to learn and I'm still learning, is to not take my patient's suffering whether it be physical or emotional with me. It's really hard for me not to, some shifts after a bad death or a bad psych meltdown, I literally hurt for them and it can be hard to deal with every day.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

I think the hardest thing for me to learn has been that every hill is not worth dying on. Fortunately, the nurses and MDs I work with know that I'm willing to be super aggressive when I think that *anything* needs to be addressed for my patient and they tolerate it because they know that my focus is on the patient. But sometimes I will get myself dragged into situations (like calling the Red Cross at 3am to get a patient's grandson overseas sent home to see her because her prognosis was very poor and she kept talking about seeing him) that aren't necessarily my responsibility and I can get easily sidetracked. Some of the things that I have taken up I am glad that I did for the good of my patient, but some were probably not as urgent as I made them out to be in my mind. 

39 minutes ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

For me the hardest thing to learn and I'm still learning, is to not take my patient's suffering whether it be physical or emotional with me. It's really hard for me not to, some shifts after a bad death or a bad psych meltdown, I literally hurt for them and it can be hard to deal with every day.

What are some skills you've learned to cope with this? 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

12 minutes ago, andreaboucher said:

What are some skills you've learned to cope with this? 

Honestly? Seeing a therapist a couple times a month.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

18 minutes ago, andreaboucher said:

What are some skills you've learned to cope with this? 

"We teach best what we most need to learn." -Richard Bach

6 minutes ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

Honestly? Seeing a therapist a couple times a month.

Which I sense is merely a portion of a program you work, Moon, for as I've said before, you are an individual of a higher consciousness.

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

13 minutes ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

Honestly? Seeing a therapist a couple times a month.

This is such an important thing for me too. I have learned to see many work situations in a different, healthier way after talking through them with my counselor.

For me, I think one of the hardest things to learn that I've actually conquered (for the most part) is not getting caught up in unit drama, gossip, and shift wars. I worked on a unit once where everyone was very close and friendly both inside and outside of work. While that made for lots of fun memories, it also resulted in cliques and some weird dynamics on the unit, and I think my work suffered for it a little - being distracted by petty things, I think I missed a lot of learning opportunities and didn't accomplish as much as I could have. Now that I've worked at different hospitals, I find it easier to be friendly with coworkers while not needing to view everyone as a personal friend. This does wonders for my ability to not take conflicts personally and not get caught up in talking negatively about anyone, which keeps my work life more peaceful and gives me less craziness to sort out on my days off.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

1 hour ago, NightNerd said:

I find it easier to be friendly with coworkers while not needing to view everyone as a personal friend. 

Your statement struck a note with me, NightNerd.

I'm pretty much of an antisocial recluse, but over the years I have made a few lasting relationships stemming from my nursing career, but they are not upfront and personal.

Except my medical nuse wife Belinda.

About 10 to 12 years ago, I became really friendly with a psych tech, Leevil, at Wrongway. Leevil was an artist with a great sense of dark humor and we became good chums, showing off our works, trading ideas, going to shows together, etc.

Leevil was wanting to put on a show over in the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis and make some money to boot. However, he was short on funds, and I freely volunteered to monetarily fund the majority of his show.

Leevil's show was a success, had made a profit, and he was willing to reimburse me. Knowing Leevil had this great talent that was marketable, I suggested that he put the money that I had invested back into his works for another show. I said, "If I ever need any of the money, I'll let you know".

 Agreed.

My mistake: Not getting anything in writing.

Much later, Leevil refused to repay the money and was eventually terminated from Wrongway.

The hard thing learned was to keep everything on the up and up. Even if I love and trust someone, if there's any chance of negative repercussions from a deal in a relationship which could occur, I get it in writing.

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

7 hours ago, Davey Do said:

Your statement struck a note with me, NightNerd.

I'm pretty much of an antisocial recluse, but over the years I have made a few lasting relationships stemming from my nursing career, but they are not upfront and personal.

Except my medical nuse wife Belinda.

Oh yeahhhhh, I kinda forgot I met my boyfriend at my first nursing job! So never mind, y'all, I still haven't learned my lesson six years later!

7 hours ago, Davey Do said:

About 10 to 12 years ago, I became really friendly with a psych tech, Leevil, at Wrongway. Leevil was an artist with a great sense of dark humor and we became good chums, showing off our works, trading ideas, going to shows together, etc.

Leevil was wanting to put on a show over in the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis and make some money to boot. However, he was short on funds, and I freely volunteered to monetarily fund the majority of his show.

Leevil's show was a success, had made a profit, and he was willing to reimburse me. Knowing Leevil had this great talent that was marketable, I suggested that he put the money that I had invested back into his works for another show. I said, "If I ever need any of the money, I'll let you know".

 Agreed.

My mistake: Not getting anything in writing.

Much later, Leevil refused to repay the money and was eventually terminated from Wrongway.

The hard thing learned was to keep everything on the up and up. Even if I love and trust someone, if there's any chance of negative repercussions from a deal in a relationship which could occur, I get it in writing.

That's a tough one, Davey. It sucks feeling like you have to temper generosity with practicality, but so many of us have had an experience that demands just that. I know now I don't give anything I expect or need to get back; then, it's a nice surprise if I do.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

It’s OK to ask for help.

It’s OK to admit you are feeling overwhelmed.

 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

9 hours ago, Davey Do said:

Your statement struck a note with me, NightNerd.

I'm pretty much of an antisocial recluse, but over the years I have made a few lasting relationships stemming from my nursing career, but they are not upfront and personal.

Except my medical nuse wife Belinda.

About 10 to 12 years ago, I became really friendly with a psych tech, Leevil, at Wrongway. Leevil was an artist with a great sense of dark humor and we became good chums, showing off our works, trading ideas, going to shows together, etc.

Leevil was wanting to put on a show over in the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis and make some money to boot. However, he was short on funds, and I freely volunteered to monetarily fund the majority of his show.

Leevil's show was a success, had made a profit, and he was willing to reimburse me. Knowing Leevil had this great talent that was marketable, I suggested that he put the money that I had invested back into his works for another show. I said, "If I ever need any of the money, I'll let you know".

 Agreed.

My mistake: Not getting anything in writing.

Much later, Leevil refused to repay the money and was eventually terminated from Wrongway.

The hard thing learned was to keep everything on the up and up. Even if I love and trust someone, if there's any chance of negative repercussions from a deal in a relationship which could occur, I get it in writing.

There is so much truth in this post, Davey. At the very beginning of my career I experienced a betrayal by a co-worker I thought of as a close friend. Since then, I have become incredibly selective with whom I allow a professional relationship also become personal. I have been lucky to have had some very good friendships that stemmed from professional relationships, but I also make sure I won't get stabbed in the back again!

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

11 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

At the very beginning of my career I experienced a betrayal by a co-worker I thought of as a close friend. Since then, I have become incredibly selective with whom I allow a professional relationship also become personal. I have been lucky to have had some very good friendships that stemmed from professional relationships, but I also make sure I won't get stabbed in the back again!

A hard lesson to learn is the fact that anybody, at any time, has the potential to betray us.

We are often lured in by he acts and subsequent feelings of closeness. Those types of betrayals, by ones we trusted and felt close to, are the most painful.

It's a scary thing to believe that we could trust another, vulnerate ourselves only to be, as you stated Moon, stabbed in the back.

Leevil's betrayal was quite an emotional blow and I dealt with it in appropriate ways which included, as always, humor.

Abraham Lincoln said something along the lines of, "I destroy my enemies by making them my friends".

I have a cartoon character, Stinkin Linkin, who is the exact opposite of Mr. Lincoln.

Stinkin Linkin said, "I destroy my enemies by making them my friends. Then, when they least expect it, I really give it to them!"

As my signature line reads, "Overcome fear by seeing the funny yet  ridiculous side of every situation".

Picking battles. You can't please everybody, nor can you get patients to do everything you need them to do. I remember getting so stressed out about patients wanting to leave the unit to go smoke, or trying to get them to take their meds (especially if they refuse for absurd reasons). Why take on that stress? Educate, and if they still resist, then let them. Just document/ escalate as appropriate/ follow policy. People are entitled to make poor decisions. 

Curious1997, BSN

Specializes in Psych, Medical. Has 13 years experience.

The hardest thing to learn is how to admit you maybe wrong, shutter the ego and shelve your pride. 

Happiness and contentment lies on the other side once you are in control of these things. 

Learning and truly understanding that we are all the same under the skin, with the same insecurities and fears means that you don't have to fear anyone AND you will find that they actually fear you because of your bluntness and ability to know them. 

Humility is a very freeing state of mind! 

Okey Foley, RN

Specializes in Surgical Floor.

14 hours ago, MelEpiRN said:

Picking battles. You can't please everybody, nor can you get patients to do everything you need them to do. I remember getting so stressed out about patients wanting to leave the unit to go smoke, or trying to get them to take their meds (especially if they refuse for absurd reasons). Why take on that stress? Educate, and if they still resist, then let them. Just document/ escalate as appropriate/ follow policy. People are entitled to make poor decisions. 

Definitely agree with this one. I very much believe in patient autonomy - and this includes them making not so great decisions. I can always educate and suggest things, but ultimately it is their decision. 

Along these same lines, I used to want all my charting to be beautiful and perfect. Just not realistic. I absolutely chart, and make pretty good shift notes for each patient especially with any significant events. But there is no reason to go over the top with it -- I'd rather spend the time with my patients, as long as I am charting to cover myself and communicate to the care team.

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 28 years experience.

Confidence in my own clinical decisions, without needing confirmation from others