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Dawn - Your post on ANA touched me deeply. I agree that nurses should pull together during nursing school and even more so afterwards. The "cut throats" continue to thrive in the nursing workforce while those of us who became nurses to care for others are gradually fading away. I have been a nurse for nearly 40 years and it grieves me to see instructors, charge nurses, managers, directors and CNO's who are not supportive of nurses go unchecked. Nursing school feels like mental abuse but then entering the workforce and being bullied and verbally and emotionally abused by your "team members" is even worse. I fight against it and, as I finish my masters so I can teach, I look forward to helping new nurses learn the psychology of surviving in the nursing profession.
As a newly licensed RN, I look back over the past several years and think, "Oh my God, how did I survive that?" Nursing school is a bit like Dante's inferno... the ninth circle! ok not a bit, a lot like passing through the deeper rungs of hell. All the while sitting in a lecture hall and wondering when this torture will ever end. My classmate said it perfectly when she described nursing school like being in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane with nothing but a pool noodle to keep you afloat, and then you see a beautiful cruise liner in the distance...the way off distance... the cruise liner represents the end of Nursing school...
Before I started the professional phase of nursing school I had a 4.0 GPA. I was a great student with great study habits but soon realized that nursing school was a whole other animal. I was shocked and dismayed when I had trouble getting my scores out of the high 70's! I thought to myself, I must have a brain aneurysm, there can be no other explanation as to why I cannot seem to get an A on these exams. This was not an isolated situation. After watching some of my early classmates either fail or drop out, wrongly assuming that nursing just wasn't for them, I began to realize that a B in nursing is equal to an A in any other course.
After this realization, I began to reach out to my fellow classmates, I decided to change the culture of our class from competition against each other, to a team mentality, where we all strive together to succeed. My motto was, "if you are doing well, then I'm doing well." We formed study groups, support groups, even resorted to prayer and meditation to help bring a sense of calmness and peace to our tumultuous journey.
Nursing school is hard and it can make you feel as if your brain fell out of your head on the way across campus, but if nursing students learn early on to rely on one another and to work as a team, you will not only survive nursing school, but become an excellent nurse who understands the concept of, "team work, makes the dream work!" When you graduate you will need to learn how to work with all types of people and nurses. Some will have developed a sense of compassion while in nursing school, and others will be cut throat. You will need to remember all the tears you and your classmates have shed over those low 70 scores and you will need to remember that nursing school didn't kill you... it made you a better person because you will have come to understand that nursing is all about people who are hurting, and just need to be cared for... So take that pain and mental trauma, that we all know is the foundation of nursing school, and let it mold you into a tender, empathetic care giver.
I promise that the hurricane does eventually end, you will climb onto that graduation cruise ship and you will float away into your future as a professional nurse...Thank God!
Dawn Starbinski RN
West Orange NJ
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