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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Returning to roots

Well it is about time I updated this and bumped off that New Year's Countdown Clock! That clock was beginning to be rather alarming--just kept on ticking, reminding me that the new year is rolling on and not-so-new anymore ... 

 Happy Valentine's Day!

These last few weeks, I've caught myself reminiscing about my first years in nursing. I wondered about how I'd changed, grown, hardened, or if I had simply distanced from who I was as a nurse in those oh-so-formative years of nursing education and first practice. I actually saved my journal from my first semester in nursing school, so it was relatively easy for me to walk back into those moments. All those emotions were there: pride at being a student nurse, shock and mild horror at the tangible reality of illness and overwhelming need, stress and internal angst at whether I really was 'a nurse.' I also recalled the embarrassment at my shiny, too-new uniform (I wanted those faded green 'regulation' OR scrubs). But I LOVED my new stethoscope!

Like most of us, my first clinical rotations were in long term care and sub acute geriatric units. Like most students, I only vaguely recognized the complexity of gerontology nursing and the expertise of gerontology nursing as a specialty. Most of us were happy to leave behind the routine manual labor of morning care, feed assists and the bewildering mood-shifts of dementia. We were students drenched in the drama of the TV drawn ER, yearning for codes, detective diagnosing, and longing to be a part of the critical care team.

Yet, as I flip through the pages of my journal, I see moments of engagement with residents and patients; word pictures of encounters and wrestling with the complexity of patient-nurse dynamics. But more than that, I see learning about who I was and who I wanted to become--not only as nurse, but as person. Visiting myself as a student nurse, I not only reconnected with those first patient encounters, but saw how I have, in many ways, returned to those same complexities, albeit now at a different level of learning, with new skill sets and more experienced eyes.These were questions of meaning and connection; of 'self' and 'other.'

I continue to question, to want to know more about who I am and who I am becoming--both as a nurse, and as a person. In the spiraling circle of my career and growth as a nurse, through my dissertation work, I was able to go back to those early roots, to return to gerontology nursing. How nice to somehow give back to those residents, patients, nurses who so engaged me early on in my journey.

Over the next couple of blogs, I want to share some early 'nurse' poetry I wrote as a student nurse and into my first year of practice. I hope that you can join with me on your own little excursion of returning to the roots of your nursing journey. If you are just starting out as a student nurse, I hope that I can offer you reassurance that your questionings are worthwhile and that your caring engagement will grow you up in the right direction. Bon Voyage!

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