Yes, it is my pleasure to recommend you for this job!

Never underestimate the importance of experiencing the best and worst days in your nursing career with friends and colleagues who have walked those long hospital hallways right beside you. I always knew the reason behind my success, and decision to keep showing up when things got hard, was because of the special bond that we all shared with one another. Yes, it is always about our patients, but it is also about not dropping the ball when our team needs us.

I think this is what I miss the most. I miss the camaraderie and the connections. I miss feeling like I am a small part of a much bigger picture. I miss laughing when the only other emotional choice would be to cry. I yearn for the days where I wouldn’t have to look more than a few feet away for a friendly face who was willing to share a not-so-fun task with me, if for nothing else than moral support or a witness! I miss those days, but I will never forget them for as long as I live.

I often get asked to provide professional recommendations for many of the nurses that I have worked with in past roles as either a peer or manager. I see it as an honor that I am entrusted with this important step in creating new and exciting career opportunities for the people who continue to challenge themselves to learn and grow, for only change can provide new perspectives and ideas to help us to think and practice in a different way from what we already know. Today, as I completed one of those professional references for an old friend, I thoughtfully considered the last question, “What are the top 3 strengths of this candidate?”. All I could think of is “where do I begin…”. As a nurse who showed up to care for the sickest of the sick in 2020, in NYC, during the earliest, scariest, and deadliest time of Covid, the “strengths of a nurse” have new definitions, like courage and bravery, selflessness, and unparallelled dedication to her (or his) patients. In a time when the future was not certain, and science became so unpredictable, even deadly, showing up day after day, is really all that needs to be said. That’s the nurse who I want working beside me, whether we are in a pandemic or not!

The Power of Teams

Most nurses will tell you that they wouldn’t be able to get through their shift without the help and support of their colleagues. It is very difficult to safely care for patients without other able bodies to help you during an emergency, or consult with over a patient/medication/equipment issue, etc.  Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help; if you are unsure about something, or have any doubts, ask someone else (who knows just as much, or more, than you do) what they think. My advice is to always follow your gut instincts and question things that don’t sound or feel right. Nurses cannot work in silos; neither can nurse leaders. Working together can build stronger teams who are kinder, and who instinctually know how to help each other.

teamwork

Some days it can be hard to leave your work at the job, and you bring it home…you think about a difficult patient or situation, and how you could have handled it differently; you pray for a patient’s relief of pain, or hope that their condition improves during the next shift, and that he/she is still there when you return to work the next day…sometimes they are not. Yes, it can be hard to stop thinking about work, but it is important to try to do so for your own health and well-being. It can be equally hard, maybe even harder, to leave your personal life at home, and not bring it to work with you. We all have our “stuff” that we carry, be it a sick child or parent at home, family emergency, broken furnace, loss of a beloved pet, concern over our own health issues… we are only human, and it can be difficult to care for others when we are hurting inside. I have often found that it was during the most stressful times in my personal life where being at work was a welcome distraction, but not everyone can do that; we have to be self-aware to know when to ask for help… and when to take that mental health day. Patient safety is of utmost importance, and if you come to work not feeling well, or are so distracted that you forget to use best nursing practice, you are putting yourself, your license, and most importantly, your patients, at risk of harm. You are not alone; trust that your work family will understand and be supportive. That is what being a part of a team is all about.

compassion

It takes a team to successfully “get through” your shift… and that feeling when you see the next shift come in, looking (and smelling) all fresh and clean…ahhh, relief at last! The hand-off report, or as I like to call it, “tag,  you’re it”, is the final sign-off endorsement before you can clock out, and get back to your real life outside of work.

oprah new shift meme