Time management, leadership and teamwork… oh my!
I have learned time budgeting, using the rubrics to plan ahead for eight weeks to get projects done on time. I have learned leadership skills which help me interact more effectively with my peers, my managers, and my patients to create a plan of care or department vision based on existing problems, and lead others to my goal rather than try to push my visions and lose friends. I have worked online and through the Internet as part of collaborative teams, and have had to work without visual cues to effectively communicate and work with others.
Treating the whole person
In my nursing classes, I have gained an awareness of body systems and functions and how they act and interact, and realized again that humans are a wonderfully complex group of systems. The body is like a ballet, each part performing its dance in time with the others. If one organ fails to act as planned, then the organism ceases to be. I’m not a deeply religious man, but the intricate complexity of the body leads to more questions than answers, and I like to know not that organs fail, but how. What does the failure of a kidney, for example, do to harm the body as a whole? What do disease processes actually DO to the body and how can we repair the system when a part fails?
We learn the actions and effects of medications so we can better educate ourselves, and then our patients. We learn to communicate the medicines, diseases, and interventions, translating medical language into English for our patients. We learn to treat our patients AND their families, because that support system (or dysfunctional system) goes home with them; hopefully, also having absorbed our teachings. We learn in our classes to treat ourselves as well, because sick nurses make lousy caregivers.
Continuing to learn
We also learn, or I did, that everything I had learned in my associates courses was not the end of knowledge—it was the beginning of my journey. By continuing your education, you can begin to think of yourself less as a cog in the machine and more as a professional, an educator, a caregiver, a holder of hands and a healer of hearts. I found you can begin to focus less on performing the day-to-day tasks of nursing and more on finding better ways to perform that task, or set up a new method. You can focus more on showing your team how much easier a task can be when re-designed, and then lead them to roll out the re-design to the whole hospital.
Not “just a nurse”
College has taught me I am not “just a nurse.” I an A NURSE. Our patients look up to us, so we look out for them. We are the daily face of health care and our opinions matter, so we continue our education to gain the knowledge and power to lead the rest of health care towards OUR vision through collaborative effort, modeling and reinforcing the knowledge that yes, NURSES MATTER.
That’s why you’re going back to school. That’s your take-away. You count. You lead. You care.
About the Author
Glenn Fredenburg has been a registered nurse for over 13 years, coming to the profession after a career in sales. His experience in nursing has been primarily in the critical care setting, with over 10 years in the emergency room and intensive care areas. His mother is a retired nurse and urged him early in life to "become a nurse" because it's rewarding helping others heal and using your complete "toolbox" of skills to aid in the recovery of body and mind. In hindsight, his mother was right. Don't tell her.