Linda - I Left Nursing after One Year
Linda Johnson -
Most of my family members worked in the medical field, so I didn’t think about doing anything different. I felt that the Lord had called me into the nursing profession. I am fascinated by the body and how it works and what happens when it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. But, when I graduated from college, I wasn’t prepared for the reality of the nursing floor.
Hospital nursing wasn’t what I expected. I felt unprepared and was frustrated by the expectations to know everything. Preceptoring was a concept that was in its infancy, so I didn’t have anyone to mentor me along the way. I was under the impression most of my time would be with patients, but I spent so much time charting that I wasn’t able to connect with patients and their families, or to feel like I was making a difference. I wanted to help educate people, but there was no time.
Not much has changed since I entered nursing. The panic is still there for new nurses. My daughters are both nurses, with my youngest just graduating from nursing school a month ago. They have the same concerns I had; they feel totally inept. I tell them, “You’re not alone. Keep going. What you’re feeling is normal. Just keep learning.” and “Keep praying.” I encourage them to connect with someone and provide support for each other. I wish somebody would have given me the same advice 28 years ago.
Experienced nurses have so much knowledge and could be wonderful mentors, but they are tired. They don’t feel they have time to share their knowledge with the new grads. However, we need to support new nurses in order to keep them in this profession.
Improvement may come when more nurses from the trenches move into administrative positions. Administrators with business backgrounds don’t have the knowledge base that experienced floor nurses have. Nurses know what it’s like to work on the floor; they know the caseload, the needs of families and everything that needs to be dealt with.
After nursing for two years, my oldest daughter is just now feeling comfortable in her job.“I love building trust with each child and having time to touch each life.” I was so overwhelmed I left after only one year, deciding I was not cut out to be a nurse in a hospital. I had no one to talk to if I had a question or was stressed about learning a new procedure. Like many new nurses, I was afraid to ask for help or admit feeling incompetent, because I thought I would lose my job.
However, my desire for nursing never left me. I still felt that God had led me to be a nurse, but I hadn’t found my niche yet. When my mom was diagnosed with diabetes, I had the opportunity to work part-time in a diabetes clinic. I really enjoyed the experience, but it still wasn’t quite the right fit. As I would later discover, many avenues are open to nurses, and just because hospital nursing was not the right fit me, I would soon find the area in which I could use my nursing skills and thrive.
Currently, I am a nurse in an elementary school and I love it. I think it is important for children to see a nurse in a place where people aren’t sick. Of course, we have children come in with the occasional broken bone, contusions and the normal scrapes and bumps, but sometimes children come to see me because they need a place to take a break, or someone to talk to about their day or what is going on in their life. They may have stomach aches because their parents are divorcing, or anxiety because their father has just been deployed to Iraq. Or they may just need to talk to someone and know they’re not going to be in trouble. My job allows me to advocate for children and their families, to develop relationships and trust.
A diabetic student who’s been with me since kindergarten has now gone on to middle school. I felt like I was sending one of my own children off to middle school. She asked me, “Mrs. Johnson, can’t you come to middle school with me? Maybe you could trade places with the nurse who is at the middle school.” I love building trust with children and their families. If I can be an advocate for a child who does not have a voice and make a difference in that child’s life, it makes it all worthwhile. To me, that is what nursing is all about.
I also love teaching the children about healthy lifestyles. One example is teaching kindergarteners about hand washing and the importance of washing their hands before eating and after using the restroom. The next day they come to me and say, “I remembered. I’m doing what you told me. I’m singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and washing my hands until I’ve finished the song.”
I’m thankful I didn’t give up my nursing career forever after that first frustrating year and I’m glad I stepped out in faith and kept on, even when I wasn’t sure where I would end up. Nursing provides a place for people who are compassionate, and there’s no better way to make a difference. School nursing allows me to do what I feel nursing is all about. Students ask me if I like being a school nurse and I tell them, “I love it. It’s different everyday. I get to talk with you and your parents and I wouldn’t choose anything else.” Two students have said they want to be a school nurse and help others like I have helped them. Sometimes the days are long and hard, and there are days when I feel unappreciated. But, it only takes one child or one family member to say, “Thank you for your help” or “Thank you for taking the time to listen.” It sounds so simple, but when I’ve made a difference in someone’s life for the better, it makes it all worthwhile.
Power Strategies: Support, Competence, Influence
go back to main page