Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pas de deux

With finals, ATI, vacation and other things looming over me, I never really posted the secondary part to my last entry regarding a professor's hurtful (and in my opinion, quite ignorant) words.

Nursing school offers a banquet of stress to feast upon in as many helpings as you can handle. It's a day-to-day of self-esteem bashing at the hands of instructors, preceptors, doctors and whoever else just happens to fall a little higher on the hierarchy than yourself. You either learn quickly that most of it is minutiae that shouldn't even register on your radar or, you spend a lot of time crying in bathroom stalls, your car, hell, maybe even in front of the offender in the wide, jarring space of public. There is a middle ground and I like to think that those are the people that end up as excellent nurses. Come in too hardened and you're already jaded in a profession that, far as I can tell, chews up even the best and brightest at some point. Start too soft and even the easy punches will leave dents that leave minimal chance of recovery. The days can be long, tiring, frustrating with only occasional small victories. Those small bites of why you've chosen nursing have to sustain the overeager appetite each student has. We all long to help people, but like anything else, it's the little dance of balance to get it right. There are some things that simply can't be taught.

I think Not Nurse Ratched said it best here about developing a thick skin as a nurse and the worry that writing about the absolute sucktastic days of nursing school & beyond possibly dissauding someone from choosing nursing as a career. I'm glad that I read nursing blogs voraciously before starting school; there were some things I was prepared for and others that I never could have expected. In my regular life, I'm a confident, assertive person. I have healthcare experience so it wasn't a total foreign land I was entering. And for the most part, I've done well in my classes and clinical with positive feedback. Even with all that, I almost folded in half in the aftermath of my last entry.

Thankfully, two days later, I received a clinical evaluation from an instructor that cemented my feet clearly back into nursing ground and gave me some reassurance that I wasn't a total failure who'd been falsely building up my own hopes. It was so good that I took a picture of the best comment and looked at it before my last exam. Because it was one of my little victories.

In my school, when given any oral (informal) or written (formal) dressing down, we are given an opportunity to write a rebuttal that is part of our nursing file. Since I felt this particular incident of ridicule was completely baseless and uncalled for when addressed to a mass audience, I opted to write the rebuttal along with several other students. I mainly wrote how I felt that the dismal grades of one test does not measure my worth as a future nurse; rather that my compassion, competent care and technical skill in the clinical setting reflect my ability. Of course, didactic material is important, but, again, it goes to the balance above, because I am that one in the middle, trying to find my way and make sense of it all. I haven't heard any comments so far over my break and hope it quietly dies down. My rebuttal wasn't an attempt to fan the flames, but to give myself the voice that is stifled a good majority of the time just by the virtue of being a student nurse.

How very Breakfast Club of me.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, damned if you don't. - Eleanor Roosevelt


Ordinarily, I stray from bleeding my heart and feelings out in public. I'm ultra-careful because if my identity were uncovered, it would likely bring about unpleasant ramifications at school. Plus, I consider myself a bit of a stoic and really don't enjoy my more vulnerable moments on display. If I'm honest, that holds me back quite a bit in blog writing. In my world, there is a fine line between a brave show of human emotion vs. oversharing.

But I digress.

The above quote ran through my head all through today. I'm an Eleanor Roosevelt fan; I'd totally be her BFF any day. Again with the digression. Though I can't go into specifics, today was wicked from the start. And as a nursing student really starting to feel my transition into a nurse, I handle it because nursing school has been good for my inner control freak. Before the end of my day spent embracing the semper gumby motto, myself and a few classmates were told a great deal of hurtful, damaging things by one of our more respected professors. It was one of those moments where the words are said, they hang in the air for a moment and settle with a thud. The bell has been rung and it can never be taken back.

I will always ask for constructive criticism because I want to learn the correct way of doing things while a student, while it's proper to ask questions. But, if there is every any question of my professionalism, integrity or compassion as a nurse-to-be, we definitely have a problem. I believe that people often say things in haste, under pressure and when emotions are running high. We've all been there and it's human, There is a point where I can brush it off, because somewhere at some point, someone has been gracious enough to offer me the same courtesy.

Even so, I have been dreading school each day for a solid month and it just became exponentially worse.

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