When I got out of nursing school, like many, I felt pretty prepared. I knew I still had a lot to learn, but with my drug book in hand and a few other little pocket books, I was ready to go. I read up on things, learned about new drugs, tackled ACLS and overcame my fears one day at a time. But, what I was grossly unprepared for was the art of nursing. Sure, school taught me how to calculate medications, do assessments and manage diseases – all the science stuff. But what it didn’t prepare me for was the sadness I would encounter, the deaths I would see and toll this would take on me. I hadn’t tapped into the art of nursing while I was conquering the science of nursing.
This is not uncommon for new nurses. They are so stressed and worried about performance on the job, they forget how to be fulfilled with their jobs. And sadly, they are not taught self-care in school. It is with this perspective, that I often find myself talking more with my students about the art versus the science of nursing. In clinicals, we are suppose to practice the science they are learning in school – medications, assessments skills, disease management and recognitions. However, what I have found is we don’t foster the art of nursing – the caring and compassion that likely drew us to this awesome profession in the first place.
As a nurse, especially in the ICU, the science part of nursing is heavy. Lots to learn and master – lives in your hands. This makes balancing the art and science very challenging. However, it has to be balanced. A few years back, I could feel the burn out creeping in. I was working in a very busy MICU at a large teaching hospital. For all intensive purposes, I had mastered my job – especially the science part. There were not to many patients I was uncomfortable taking as an assignment and I had become one of the go to people on the unit. But, why was I so unhappy? Bored? Frustrated? I started to notice I didn’t connect as much with my patients and their families – my bank account for pouring out to people had run dry. I started to realize that I had poured so much into my career, but not so much into myself and the art of nursing was lost in the process. I think a lot of it was defensive protections. When you see so much sadness and suffering, yet have to function in a highly skilled environment, something has to give. For me, it was my passion for my job and the art of nursing that originally drew me to nursing in the first place.
So, like with my students, we as nurses often have to take the time to re-vitalize, re-evaluate and re-juvinate ourselves and our careers. We need to take time to remember the part of nursing we were originally draw to – caring for people in need – the art of nursing.
In this crazy changing world of healthcare, we as nurses need to find ways to care for ourselves. We can’t pour out to others if we are empty. In the land of patient satisfaction, unhappy, dry nurses are not going to cut it and hospitals are quickly starting to realize this. In remembering the art of nursing, we support our nurses physically and emotionally. We give them the time to demonstrate caring attitudes and the resources to make it happen. No institution will have high patient satisfaction scores with an imbalance of the art and science of nursing.
So, are you out of balance? Find yourself struggling to get through your shifts? I want to offer you a way to re-charge and give yourself a gift and a way to rediscover the art of nursing. This year during Nurses Week, the Art of Nursing 2.0 – Navigating the Shift in Healthcare (Click here to view more details) will be offering some solutions. This week long experience, will be all about you – the nurse! This is a great way to bulk up on continuing education while doing something for yourself. You may also be able to use your continuing education or tuition money to apply for your registration. Hey – maybe your hospital would like to give this gift to your whole nursing staff? Wouldn’t that be awesome and much more useful than another travel mug!
Remember, we have to care for ourselves to care for others. Also, remembering the art of nursing is just as important as the science!
Take care, be safe & wash your hands!