On Community Health Nursing

Today marks the end of an era. Today I will pack up my nursing kit for the last time, walk away from my cubicle, and move toward the next step in my nursing journey.

Being a community health nurse for almost two years has taught me some important lessons that I will carry with me wherever I go…

  • No matter where you go, you will learn. You may take jobs along the way that surprise you or aren’t your first choice. But if you open your mind and your heart, you may find yourself blessed in unexpected and important ways.
  • Knowing where people live and with whom they share their lives is half the battle. You may think your job is done when the discharge paperwork is signed. Your specific job may be. But our work continues.
  • You can’t fix people. Despite our best efforts, our carefully formulated care plans, our coordination and collaboration, patients will fall through the cracks. Mental illness will stand in your way. And some people will just make decisions that make absolutely no sense. Sometimes there’s just nothing more you can do.
  • Despite not being able to fix people, you should still try to be there. When all else fails, being there can make all the difference.
  • You will get frustrated. It is the nature of health care. It is the nature of broken systems and broken people. There will be days, no matter where you work, when you feel as if your head meets the wall one too many times. There will be times when you think you just can’t take it anymore. But you will. And you’ll come back for more tomorrow.
  • People will shock you. Grandsons will beat up grandmothers. Partners will neglect partners. Family will steal from family. Human nature can be uglier than you ever imagined….
  • ….But neighbors will also look out for neighbors. Family will step up for family. Clients will reach for you when you’re all they have left in the world. People can still be beautiful too.

I’ll be leaving this job a bit more cynical, possibly more snarky (a co-worker called me “sassy” last week – that was a first!). I’ve seen some pretty ugly stuff in my own backyard.

But I’m also thankful. For the chance to learn what it means to practice holistic nursing. For the opportunity to have my eyes opened and my mind expanded. For moments to collaborate and to lead. As a young nurse, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow in many mind-blowing ways.

And now it’s time to grow in a new direction. To challenge myself to believe that I can be an acute care nurse and master the skills I was just beginning to get the hang of back in 2010. To believe in myself despite a bumpy beginning.

Wish me luck. I hope you’ll continue to join me.

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