Saturday, August 06, 2005

Over the Rainbow

Where do spoken words go after these are sounded out? Do they just disappear, trailing off into nothingness? Or do they continue to resound throughout the boundless sphere, leaving history in their ever-widening wake?

No, I'm not asking this in the spirit of a religious searcher, I just want to know how all the various things come about; how they are made and how then they become un-made. As in, where do things go?

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.
Muriel Rukeyser

How do stories begin and end?

Where, precisely, do things come from?

Where do nurses come from?

Well, nursing schools, of course. But some people come out of these programs pretty much as raw material, not as "nurses" yet. They only develop their full potential after sustained apprenticeship in a clinical setting. However, there are others who leave nursing school like Athena, bursting forth in full armor and regalia.

Recently I worked with a student who was Robert-Redford-knocking-the-lights-out-in-the-movie-The-Natural good. Some people are just born with the ability to thread an IV catheter into a vein so tiny it would qualifiy for cosmological string-theory study.

And then there are "the dumb ones," but these are rather rare, only because nursing programs are such meat-grinders that if a student shows any propensity at all for failing the board exams (and thusly pulling down the success rate of the program, which nursing school deans do not like,) then they get the boot. They go to business school, I suppose, and then on into the lost realms of investment banking, law firms, upper management, or congressional politics.

Needless to say, that does little to allay the nursing shortage.

Over the years I have seen many people who, with a little effort on the part of their instructors and other working nurses, could have been pulled along. But these are exactly the kind of people that get the hatchet before the final stages of training.

I enjoy working with both the bright ones and the dim ones. The dimmer the better, as far as I'm concerned, as they will benefit more from training than somebody who already displays skills. It's fun to see the light spreading on their abilities, as these develop.

They become part of the chain. Every day, a nurse will learn something from a patient, another nurse, a doctor, or a technician. And then sometime in the future, they will apply that bit of crust of knowledge on to another's healing process. It gets passed along in an ever-increasing outward spiral. It goes someplace.


Eric said...

Beautifully written. The nursing edification process is well described. I often wonder, as you do, what happens to those of us that have become nurses, versus those of us who work as nurses. The latter will usually start work, and may be proficient at all of the nursing duties, and may even excel at some of them. But the others, the ones that come to work, park the car, listen to report, and then, as they walk through their first patient's door, they Become Nurses. It happens when a nurse faces a situation, works through the probem, and finds The Miraculous Way to get the patient what he/she needed. It's that moment when everyone in the room looks at the nurse, and everyone agrees she is Spot On. Our roles as nurse leaders is to set up nursing experiences where this transformation can occur as frequently as possible. Robbed of these Golden experiences, and some nurses will never feel the yearning desire to deal with all of the negative aspects of nursing. I wish I were better. My instinct is to enter the room, figure it out, and tell everyone what to do. When the clinical situation is not life threatening, I think my true role should be to help those working as nurses to Become Nurses.

Jodie said...

I know I fought the calling for YEARS before I went to nursing school at 40. :)

Nurse Practitioners Save Lives said...

It's nice to see new nurses "become nurses". One can be a nurse but it takes a truly special person to "Be a nurse". There is a critical difference. If you love being a nurse, you will always be one. Regardless, if all the money was taken away, I would still do what I love. I enjoy helping student nurses when they rotate through our facility and I precept new hires. I hope that they can learn from my experience and I try to learn from them. New nurses keep it fresh.