The Rough Shift

I love nursing. I became a nurse because I wanted to help people. I hoped to be a ray of light in people’s darkest time. I imagined helping the sick become well again. Aiding the dying to the other side with peace and dignity. Assisting with bringing new and beautiful life into the world. As a nurse, I have done these things. I am privileged and honored to have been a part of these moments. These are the parts of nursing we like to talk about. The hope. The beauty. The help and comfort we provide.

What Nursing School Doesn’t Teach You

I also knew being a part of these things there would be losses. People we couldn’t save, people who passed before they were ready. But there is another part of nursing I didn’t anticipate. The part that is never mentioned in nursing school. The part that some days no matter how much you try to smile and be positive and use all your nurse interventions and resources, you feel the frustration. You feel absolutely exhausted. You have taken more than anyone person should. You work short staffed, are cursed at, and spread to thin. People can be demanding at times and nearly impossibly to please.Usually, you are able to rationalize and cope with the stress. They have dementia. They’re going through withdrawal. They are losing the person they love. But sometimes, it’s not that easy. You do your very best to keep a positive and upbeat attitude and support and love everyone. But the hurt and frustration and fatigue hit you. I recently had one of those weeks.

The Shift

Nothing clinically terrible happened. No codes, no one died, nothing medically significant. But my shift was rough. I tried to go in Sunday with a positive attitude.I was working on a unit that I don’t usually work so the nurse could have off Mother’s Day weekend.I started off the shift positive and it slowly went down hill. I was kicked, slapped, and cursed at by residents with dementia, interrupted constantly during my med pass, had multiple fall risks, and we were short staffed CNAs. I just felt frustrated and defeated! Everything I did to try to make things better, something else would come up. I stayed two hours after my shift to finish paperwork and charting because I was not able to sit at the nurses station all day. When I finally left, I was exhausted. All I wanted was food and to put my feet up.

It’s Okay To Have Feelings

I am writing this because I think it is so important to try to keep a positive attitude! We need to have each others back in nursing. We need to have a “lets get it done!” attitude rather than complain. And 99 percent of the time, I feel I have this attitude. But I also want people to know its okay to be upset some days! We may be nurses, but we are still human!

Granted, you still need to get your work done and care for your patients. Ask coworkers for help, tell them what’s going on and how you are feeling, eat something, drink some water, take 5 minutes to go in the break room and BREATH! At the end of the shift though, if you come out of work and need to cry or vent or eat a pint of ice cream- it’s okay! And I feel that many times the “be positive” things is talked about so much we forget that it’s okay to have feelings other than happy. You can be angry, sad, mad, frustrated after a shift. These are all normal and healthy human emotions!

Practice Self Care

The day after my shift, I was in a down mood. All I wanted to do was sleep. I felt upset and defeated after my shift. It’s not unusual after working twelve hours shifts to need a day of rest, but this day was different. When I spent most of Tuesday wanting to lay in bed and felt myself dwelling on my shift I knew I had to get out and do something! We have to take care of ourselves before we can care for other people! This is something I will probably write about a lot on this blog because I feel it is so important! It is so easy to get caught up in school work, work problems, family, and the million other responsibilities we have in life, but we have to care for ourselves! Find whatever it is that soothes your soul and use it to de-stress and relax. Exercise is a big help for me. I don’t have to necessarily hit the gym. Long walks with my dog, a hike, using the hand weights in my living room for a full body circuit all help to keep the blood and endorphin going! I also have found writing in this space to be very therapeutic, and know a lot of other people find writing to be helpful as well. You don’t have to share it with the world if you don’t want to, it can be for you. Yoga, crafting, sewing, reading, whatever it is that makes you happy, please do it!

I want you all to know you are not alone! Every nurse I know feels this way at some point, and its OKAY! One of the biggest things I got out of my psych rotation was realizing it’s okay to have feelings. You are allowed to feel sad, frustrated, angry. You do however need to do something to release those feelings and not keep them bottled up inside because this is when problems start! Practice your self care, talk to a friend, read a nursing blog! Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health!

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