I am really beginning to look forward to my essentials class. I dreaded it at first, quite intimidated by my professor, but I have come to see her as somewhat of a heroine to the profession of nursing, never backing down or averting her eyes when she sees something gone wrong. Sitting in her class, suddenly my whole liberal arts education starts to make sense. The whole point of being educated by way of a bachelor's degree, rather than an ADN, starts to flicker like a lightbulb, suddenly illuminating what was dark.
See, they were right when they told us that we could learn the technical skills anytime, that what we were here to learn how to be was a group of critical thinkers, team players, negotiators, managers, leaders, revolutionaries of a little-respected but desperately needed profession. And it was this that had almost entirely passed me by- but I get it now. And I want it, too. I was so consumed with how to set up an IV, how to pass the next test, how to please the grumpy instructor... I didn't understand what made our education any different than any other kind of nursing education, except its duration.
But I want it now. I see it as if I've gained a whole new pair of eyes... I want to be a leader in nursing. I'm not talking about being a charge nurse or a nurse managaer or whatever. Not that I won't do those things, but what I'm talking about is bigger than that. I want to be an instrument of change, however small, in the unit, in the hospital, and mostly to the profession of nursing in general.
We are the largest employed group of healthcare workers, we are the patient advocates, we are the last line of defense when everything has slipped through every other crack. We have the ability to see the patient as a whole, not just as a diagnosis. We are the center, the hub of the wheel that the patient's care spins around. And we are largely invisible for it. We turn on each other and we turn on ourselves. We eat our young. We gossip and we fight. We are regarded as trained robots made for carrying out doctor's orders. We are looked at as sex objects, as servants, as people who weren't smart enough to be doctors. We are a women-dominated profession, and like other women-dominated professions (teachers, for example) we are understaffed, overworked, undervalued, and underpaid for what we do.
The nursing shortage is coming, looming on the horizon and it's going to split our healthcare system down its middle, but the general population by large doesn't know or doesn't understand it at all, because they don't know or understand the role that nurses play in their healthcare.
Anyway, all of this stems from, in large part, this particular instructor's class. I spent the first few weeks whining that it wasn't fair that we had to go to class every week, instead of every other week like the other section, but I now see it as a privilege because by brute force this professor has shaken us up and made us think about the world we are entering in to, and the way we may contribute to its improvement or further its demise.
I've also been thinking a lot about what to do with my future in nursing. I'd like to work post-op in an abortion clinic, but not permanently. I'd also like to do midwifery in Nepal, contributing to some sort of women's health program. What the next few years hold for me, though, is a question mark. Work on the telemetry unit for more experience? Stay in the NICU and try to reach L&D as soon as possible? All will be revealed in time.