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