Am I alone out here?
Do you ever feel alone at work? This can happen whether you work on a busy hospital floor or if you are the solo NP at your practice.
It makes a lot of sense because much of what we do is done independently, even surrounded by other people.
Ironically, I was thinking about this today as I sat with hundreds of other people at my son’s college graduation. The student speaker commented on how exciting it is that from today onward, they can call themselves engineers. She went on to state that all of the parts of their college experience contribute to who they are in the world: not that they have all the answers now but they have the ability to learn quickly, use resources and solve problems.
I sat there, looking at the hundreds of engineers in front of me, and marveled at their collective brain power. I thought about all the things they could achieve over the course of their lifetimes, all the problems that could be solved. It was a little overwhelming when I thought about the gift of education and the things these engineers could do with it.
And this was just one engineering class
At one college
From one year.
As I thought about these students, I was reminded of the list I made earlier this week as an acknowledgement of Nurses’ week, the list of the amazing nurses that have gotten me to where I am today. Some of the nurses on that list I haven’t seen in over 20 years and yet they are an important part of my story.
They contributed to my ability to learn quickly, use resources and solve problems. They showed me how to manage my time, to prioritize, to get involved.
And I wasn’t even their patient. I was their friend, their student, their coworker and I am forever changed for having them in my life.
So as I thought of the impact this class of engineers could have on the world, I thought of the impact that just the people on my list have had on my world and the world at large. Just those nurses alone have impacted hundreds of lives and not only those of their patients.
Those nurses are you.
We have such potential, potential that we are maximizing every day. Sure, doing one more med refill or dressing change may not seem that amazing. Admittedly there are times at work that I don’t want to call patients with MRI results (gasp).
But these things are part of a whole, a whole that includes the more mundane tasks AND the things that are more fulfilling. In addition to the mundane tasks, I love to
help patients see potential where they felt hopeless,
help them strategize ways to achieve things they want and minimize their pain,
give them solid diagnosis when they have been spinning in uncertainty,
hold space for them while they grieve.
You could argue that I do these things alone. You could argue that this is just a drop in the bucket in the suffering of the world and the systemic problems in healthcare prevent us from making a real difference. You could argue that there are parts of my job which do not have direct impact on patient lives.
I do not accept any of those arguments. I reject them.
I reject them because in truth, I am NOT alone.
Even all those years that I was the only NP in my office.
Even all those years that I was caring for up to 11 post-surgical patients on the evening shift.
It helps to zoom out a little bit.
In NJ alone, there are 141,000 RNs and 13,500 APNs.
That’s a lot.
If all of the RNs and APNs in NJ help 1 person per day, that is 56 million people helped per year (and there are only 9.27 million people IN New Jersey).
And helping one person per day has a ripple effect, this helps their families, friends, businesses etc.
If we help a patient solve 1 problem, overcome 1 hurdle, improve their health and wellness in 1 way, the impact is monumental.
If we help them cope with these things, the benefit is exponentially bigger.
Then multiply that number by the actual number of people we help in a day.
Because we don’t just help one person per day and we don’t just help our patients. We help each other. We help our families, neighbors and friends.
Just by showing up and connecting with other people, being who we are, our drops in the bucket turn into an ocean.
We are part of something important, something much bigger than ourselves.
I celebrate sharing this nursing profession with you, even when I am doing the annoying parts like lab reviews or MRI reports.
I am proud to be part of this collective whole; together we ARE changing the lives of the people who make up this world that we live in.
It may not be perfect but what would it be WITHOUT us?
What a devastating alternative that would be.
Thank you for contributing to the wellness of the world.
It wouldn’t be the same without you.
P.S. Struggling with feeling like what you do makes a difference? Click here to directly schedule a consult call on my calendar. Changing this one feeling can change everything.