When Did You Know You Were Done?

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I had an unsettling revelation one day while at work. A senior student from a local university was shadowing me for the day. While I like mentoring students, this time was different.

I wasn’t my happy, upbeat, smiling self telling her how wonderful nursing was and how much I loved my job. Unfortunately, I painted a realistic portrait of my daily life as a nurse after a patient became irrationally hostile with me during a seemingly routine medication pass at 8 am.

During my time with her, I questioned what her plans were after graduation and why she wanted to be a nurse. She gave me the typical answer of wanting to “help” people and wanting to work in med-surg after graduation. I advised her that if she thought ICU was crazy, then med-surg surely would be as well considering her patient load would be at least doubled, maybe tripled from the two patients she saw me with that day.

I encouraged her to continue her education, because she may not want to be a bedside nurse forever and a little extra education never hurt.

She told me many nurses she had worked with before always painted a pretty picture of nursing and I was the most realistic nurse she had worked with. Even with this being said, I cringed. Why do nurses pretend they love their job when precepting, when in truth, many don’t?

I’ve been guilty of plastering a fake smile on my face and telling students what a great career choice they’ve made, that they will be able to get a job anywhere and patients and families and (especially) management will absolutely LOVE and appreciate them because they’re a nurse. From this day on after this encounter with this student, I vow only to tell the truth.

I hope I didn’t dash her hopes and dreams that day, but I couldn’t bring myself to not inform her of the true realities nurses face.

On that day I truly knew I was done living a lie and vowed to make a change in my life. I’ve been much happier since I started my own business, wrote my book, and decided what I really want to do with my life. I was done not being true to myself and to those I had precepted in the past.

When did you realize you were “done” and what did you do about it?


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