It was a difficult choice for me to change careers at 30, but I had licensed and had worked part-time for over 7 years for the school corporation as an elementary school teacher and there was no promise of a full-time position. I went back to school to search for a different path to my life. I weighed several options before choosing a degree in nursing. The conundrum that I faced was that I had no experience in healthcare at all. So I began looking for a part-time job to pay for my school expenses and give me some experience in healthcare.
I choose a position at a home health organization because I did not need experience to begin there. I showed up bright and early on my first Saturday morning ready to give the best care that I could to my client. I had been given a name and address on a piece of paper and instructions that the client could tell me what to do.
My year and a half in nursing school had given me an idea of what needed to be done. I knew how to give a bed bath, do range of motion exercises, and empty a catheter bag. What I did not know was that is only a portion of care. There are needs that are psychological, emotional and social to need be addressed and school cannot teach these skills.
What an unbelievable experience! It was so fulfilling to be able to go into someone’s home and provide care for them on a one-on-one basis. I did more patient care in that first weekend than I had done in my time in school, especially those psychological, emotional, and social needs. I was hooked.
The bottom line is that nursing is more than just providing for those physical needs. Yes, I must know how to properly insert a catheter and give a bed bath, but real nursing, the kind you do not see portrayed in movies and on television, involves caring for the client’s emotional and psychological needs as well. I have learned that meeting these needs are just as important and sometimes more important. A client who is worried that they have ruined their computer is more thankful that you helped fix the computer problems than if you just emptied his catheter bag.
Accepting the job with home health changed my perception of nursing and gave me a broader understanding of what it really means to be a nurse. I now know that clients must be cared for emotionally, psychologically and physically. If any of these are excluded, the job of the nurse is incomplete.
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