This I Believe

Laura - Antwerp, Ohio
Entered on January 20, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Nursing is Caring

I work in a small E.R. as in a Student Nurse Program where I use the skills I have learned to provide competent care in my scope of practice. Being a small E.R., most patients’ aren’t critical and could easily see a family doctor for problems like a cough, headache, or nausea/vomiting. Yesterday, my eyes were opened to real Emergency Nursing, how E.R.’s were intended to be. Yesterday we saw 3 critical cases and I haven’t seen hardly any since I started there.

The day started off as any normal day with the chief complaints I was used to until we had 2 critical patients’ followed by another critical patient which was the one that truly opened my eyes. A middle-aged woman drove herself in to the hospital and was complaining of chest pain; she just had a baby 7 days prior. She started turning blue and her EKG was nothing like I’d seen before. She was going to die if something wasn’t done quickly. Since I am a student, she was not my patient, but I helped out when I could. I was rushing around trying to get the necessary medications/ equipment. I started to freak out inside, I tried not to show it externally, but I had never experienced this before. I held back the tears that I wanted to let out and continued to assist in any way I could. How can I be professional and keep my emotions out of this? How can I watch a new mother suffer like this, who might die, and not get emotionally involved? How can I be empathetic and not sympathetic? Am I caring in the wrong way?

As a soon-to-be nurse, it is hard for me to be so new at this and not react in an emotional way. Nurses that have experienced these situations often can almost become callused to it and keep themselves emotionally isolated from the situation in order to not emotionally deteriorate. Do I have to be callused to stay composed? I hope not. Nursing is about caring and being compassionate, but to learn a whole new way of caring than what I am used to doing with family and friends has been very hard to do. I believe that the day a nurse doesn’t care anymore is the day he/she should quit nursing. I believe that to care in the wrong way is better than not caring at all. I think that over time I will learn how to keep my emotions separate and be able to function better in emergency situations with the more exposure/experience I get. But until then, I will have to struggle through letting my feelings get involved and try to remain true to Nursing and its true purpose-caring.