An Open Letter to My First Year as a Nurse



To my first year as a nurse,

A year ago today, we started our journey, you and I. I remember how my eyes blurred when they reached the computer screen that revealed I was officially a Registered Nurse. 365 days ago, this voyage began. Each day since has been a little different from the one before it. But the same in that I am still constantly learning. Each day brings new opportunities for me to learn and grow, as well as it’s own unique challenges. While I hope my second year as a nurse has more grace and less tears, I am positive that I’ll continue to learn something new everyday with it, too.

To this first year, you have showed me things about love that I thought I knew already. But then I watched them illustrated right before my eyes and fully understood. You allowed me to be a part of families happy endings as their loved ones were healing. But you also put me in positions where my face would be associated with anger, fear, and sadness. You have let me peek into family dynamics and see first hand, just how frightening and fascinating this human experience is.

During this past year, you allowed my stethoscope to hear the heart beat of fresh starts and new beginnings. But it also heard the silence of a hollow chest when life left its earthly host. I have held the hand that was fearful and I have had shifts where I left with my hands held up in frustration. I’ve listened to the breath sounds of the sick while trying to catch my own breath from being so busy. I have remembered how many times a patient has been to the bathroom while easily forgetting to go to the restroom myself. I have lived in a whirlwind of a to do list, attempting to ensure I also see the big picture of each and every patient. I have stepped in and out of hospital rooms to introduce myself to hundreds of strangers. They have become a part of my story as much as I am now a part of theirs. I have heard stories that have moved me to tears and told my patients stories of my own in hopes of making them smile. If I learned anything this year, it’s that laughter truly is the best medicine.

This year has brought me joy and frustration, happiness and sadness, tears and laughter. It has been a journey, a roller coaster, and sometimes an internal struggle. And as I enter year two of this career, calling, and adventure, I still wonder, God, why did You pick me for this job? Surely someone else can do a better job than me! And while the Good Lord still hasn’t given me His answer, and I’m confident that there are so many people that are doing a better job than me, I also have no doubt that for whatever reason, He has placed me in this field with a mission and purpose. Until I figure that out, I’ll continue to do my best, attempt to be the best eyes and ears for the patients in my path, and show them that someone cares.

So to year one, thank you for your experience. For the lives I’ve been able to affect, thank you. You were not easy on me, and made me cry more than I anticipated 365 days ago. But you showed me that the title I carry is earned, not given.

And to year two, I hope you’ll be a good teacher, as well. I hope you give me more situations where I can show love and compassion. I hope you’ll give me a little more confidence, but never enough confidence to make me dangerous. I hope you’ll let me be a part of more happy endings than sad ones. And I really hope we can show one another grace in the next 365 days.

Thanks for the memories, year one. It’s been one for the books.


“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:16‬ ‭

Love,

How to React When A Patient Becomes Angry

Nursing is a profession that is at the forefront of dealing with the public. Frequently, when nurses interact with patients and families, it is in their most difficult, scariest, and emotional days of their lives. As you can imagine, with emotions running high, patients and family members can often lash out and become irate. As a new nurse, I’ve found it difficult to deal with angry patients the first couple times I’ve encountered them. Here are some tips that have helped me learn to react when a patient becomes angry, maybe they’ll be helpful to you as well.

Helpful Article for Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals, tips and advice on how to react when a patient becomes angry.

1 – Empathize with your patient. Put yourself in their shoes! If you were in their circumstance, would you be afraid? Or annoyed? Or angry? Maybe their emotions are appropriate for the situation, even if it isn’t appropriate for them to lash out at the people who are trying to help them. Seeing things from your patient’s perspective will help you move the toward a positive outcome.

2 – Don’t take it personally. This is my biggest challenge when a patient expresses anger or frustration to me. I always feel like they are angry at me when in reality, they are angry with their situation. When I remind myself it isn’t me that has caused negative feelings, I can handle the situation better. I typically dwell on the conversation until I’ve convinced myself that it wasn’t my fault, so the sooner I remind myself not to take it personal, the better.

3 – Kill them with kindness. (Code Blue!) Sometimes just returning hurtful words with words that are kind and caring can completely alleviate a situation. Return their frustration with kindness and you might just get kindness back! And even if that doesn’t change your patient’s disposition, at least you tried.

4 – If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If you are unable to open your mouth without spewing venom in a situation where a patient becomes irate, it may be better off to not say anything at all. If your words could possibly make the situation worse instead of better, it’s probably best to keep them on the inside. This advice is one of the hardest tips to use in practice, but can definitely save yourself some trouble.

5 – Set some boundaries. Everyone has the right to feel angry, frustrated, confused, hurt, and sad. However, no one has the right to use these feelings as an excuse to be a bully. If a patient or family member continues to speak to you in a disrespectful manner, it may be time to set some boundaries. If a simple, “Mr. Smith, the way you are speaking to me is disrespectful.” doesn’t help the situation, consider asking your supervisor for some guidance.

6 – Remember how they made you feel. The sad, hard truth of life is that at some point, we will likely all experience a time when we, or a loved one, are the patient instead of the healthcare professional. In those difficult times, when you are upset or angry, instead of lashing out at your healthcare team, remember how it felt when you were on the other side of ugly words. And let me remind you, typically things don’t suddenly get accomplished just because you raise your voice.

Have you ever been in a situation where a patient became angry? How did you react or respond to them? Let me know in the comments!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Love,


Cassie, RN




How Could Jesus Do Your Job Better?

It all started a couple weeks ago…

I said my typical daily prayer on my way to work and asked The Good Lord to guide my hands and give me a good attitude. I was exhausted on my way to work, after a long week of school. I felt tired, and emotionally insufficient. When I prayed, I begged God to give me a heart that loves people the way He loves people.

Very first patient of the day needed their foot wrapped, and I immediately dreaded it. (Seriously, no one likes feet.) I walked into the room with an attitude that was less than gracious, but something triggered inside of me when I entered the room. It was as if the Lord said, “Cassie, Jesus washed feet, if He washed feet, you are not too good to wrap this foot.” After that, my perspective changed. I thought to myself: How Could Jesus Do My Job Better?

how could jesus do your job better

For starters, He would have a kind heart to even the most tattered and torn toes. He would have walked into that exam room with dressing in hand, opened arms, and a glad heart. Jesus’ heart would not have hardened like mine had in the first instant. And I am so thankful he turned my heart to him and reminded me of this scripture:

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 14:13-17

Jesus could do my job better because He would wash feet with a cheerful heart and be blessed because of it.

Often times, the clinic becomes incredibly busy. If you ever see me working on a weekend, you’ll see me running around like a chicken with their head cut off. It can be very stressful, and my mind often races with an ever growing to do list of patient needs. When a patient asks for a glass of water, my first reaction used to be less than enthusiastic. However, when I consider how Jesus could do my job better, I am reminded that although I may give a patient a glass of water, Jesus gives living water, which is exponentially more beneficial.

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:14

As a nurse, I may hand a patient a glass of water to relieve their thirst, but Jesus does my job so much better by giving anyone who asks, the gift of living water; eternal life.

As a nurse, the most basic job description I could offer would be to help promote healing. Whether that is through administering medications, cleaning wounds, or giving injections, I am assisting patient’s in their healing. But Jesus could do my job so much better because He is the Great Physician. While I can help promote healing, I can never provide the healing power that our Lord Jesus can. Jesus can do my job better because He can truly heal.

And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:46-48

My touch will never heal, but Jesus’ hands truly heal. 

I find an amazing amount of comfort that Jesus could do my job better than I can. From here on out, my daily prayer not only begs Our Lord to let me love people like He loves people, but also allows me to thank Him for doing my job better and guiding my hands and heart to become a better nurse.

So let me ask you, How could Jesus do your job better? Because I know He can. Because in the end, it isn’t about me or you, or even about our patients (What?). Instead, it’s about doing the work for His Kingdom. And the hands and feet of Jesus are blistered, callused, and dirty. Let your work look more like His. How can you show others more of Him in your life?

I pray that Jesus does your job better than you do. I pray that Jesus guides you to be more like him, in your career and in  all aspects of your existence.

He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” John 3:30-31

How is Jesus doing your job better? How can you show the world you are Christ like?

Love,

cassie

How Nursing Taught Me Grace

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted anything because I’m in the middle of my RN preceptorship while still working weekends. Right now I’m averaging 60 hour work weeks while still doing my other class work. I realize this is the norm for a lot of people, but this part time girl is worn out! Nevertheless, I’m grateful for these opportunities to learn.

I wanted to share one of my favorite stories of working as an LPN: when a young child taught me more about my faith then I’ve learned in 23 years of life.

IMG_4655 (1)

                            Grace: The unmerited love and favor of God toward human.

One of my first weekends working as a nurse, I had to give injections to a room full of sick children. Because there were 3 kids, I knew I would need some help, so I grabbed my sidekick and syringes and prepared for a battle. What I didn’t know was that full fledged warfare was waiting for me behind the exam room door.

I initially assumed the oldest sibling would have her injection first. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I attempted, a tantrum commenced. No amount of convincing could change this child’s mind! Eventually we moved on and each younger sibling took their injection with very little drama.

Then, it was time for the oldest. If you thought the temper tantrum I mentioned earlier might have been bad, this one was miserable. That child screamed and wept and kicked everyone out of their way. Even mom and dad were forcefully pushed back to their seats with flying feet and fighting fists. Friends, whatever you’ve envisioned at this time, multiply it by 10 and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have an idea of how difficult this encounter was.

Finally, with three of us as human shields and one injecting, this child  received the injection they needed. The battle was won, but I couldn’t celebrate my victory right then and there! Instead, I grabbed our “treasure chest” and allowed each child to choose a toy as their reward for taking their injections. I started with the youngest sibling, since the oldest was still laying on the exam table with tears flowing. Both younger siblings accepted their new toy and smiled. When it was the oldest child’s turn, the reaction was not the same.

Instead of being met with eagerness to see the contents of the toy chest, this child continued to weep. Even after encouragement, this child continued to cry. Eventually, she looked at me and said, “I don’t deserve to get a toy because I wasn’t good when I got my shot.” My heart melted. Again, I begged her to choose a prize. And again she said “I don’t deserve it.”

I left her a little bracelet. I don’t know if she took it home with her or not, but I hope she did. The rest of my day went on as usual, but my drive home, I found myself thinking about that family and the sweetest Son I’ve ever known.

As humans, we are that stubborn, fearful child. We fight what is good for us, we disobey the very One who gave us life, we throw punches because we don’t want what is being offered. We kick and scream and cry and yet, God still offers His love, His mercy, His salvation. And we don’t deserve it. We will never deserve it, and we know, deep down, in our heart of hearts, we don’t deserve it. And yet His mercies are new everyday. Oh, how He loves us.

I had thrown around that “grace” word for years and years, but I never truly understood it until that day. So to the stout little soldier defending them self against a rocephin injection, thank you. Thank you for reminding me that in the eyes of The Father, I am you, fighting what will make me whole. Thank you, for showing me that I don’t deserve it, but I can still receive it, because He is good. This is amazing grace.

“For by grace, are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Has nursing ever given you an “aha moment”? Has a patient ever taught you something you thought you already understood?

Love,

cassie