A Post Thanksgiving Thought to Employers, from a Labor Nurse

I’ve never felt like a perfect nurse, but I have always felt like a good nurse.  I’ve never felt like the smartest nurse, and I can guarantee you, I never will. I’ve never felt like the most aggressive nurse, the one who tries so hard to get everything completed before their shift ends. I’m not always the calmest nurse during a bad situation, no matter how hard I try to be. A fair amount of time, I have forgotten to chart many things. But I have always felt like a good nurse.  I love my patients, the population I take care of, and I genuinely believe they deserve to be cared for. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to do everything for them. It doesn’t mean that they’re all nice, that some of them couldn’t be better human beings. But in my heart, I genuinely believe that all people deserve to be cared for…in whatever way that means to that patient at that time. As a nurse, our jobs are difficult for so many reasons. We can’t control what patients we get, how sick they are, or what the census or staffing is like.

Once, as a labor and delivery nurse, I kept getting text after text from my coworkers—they knew they were going to be short-staffed the next day. Every room was full, no one would be discharged, and patients kept pouring in. At the beginning of the day when I started to receive the text messages, I held firm: No, I couldn’t come in tomorrow. I was tired, I didn’t want to work my 6th day in a row, and I knew the unit would survive without me. But by the end of the day, after countless text messages, I resolved to the fact that I needed to go in to help if things were that bad, because although the unit would survive without me, I didn’t want to burden my coworkers, or even worse, my patients, with a busy day compounded by short staffing and a high census.

So I went to work the next day, even though I didn’t commit to working until I actually woke up 😉 And the day was extremely busy, the acuity was unusually high, and everyone was maxed-out and then some. But we were making it all work, together. We were handling the chaos, combating every crazy thing that came our way. But then, in the middle of my shift, a new manager called the unit to speak with me, which was odd for her to call on a Saturday. I was triaging patients between curtains in the hallway, taking care of “stable” postpartum patients, and trying to admit someone in labor (and I had a gut feeling, I would also be her labor nurse). The manager spoke very calmly, as if she were asking me if I had a chance to eat lunch (the answer would have been no).  She then indifferently told me that they hadn’t received proof of a vaccine by the allotted deadline, and that I would need to resign after my shift. It was mid-day.

Yeah, I was kind of like this...
Yeah, I was kind of like this…

I won’t bore you with any elaborate details. I didn’t resign that day, they had always had proof of my vaccine, and I didn’t cause a scene with human resources or even with the director. For my own mental well-being, I just let it go, whether that was the right decision or not. But I never forgot that day, how small and insignificant I felt at that moment as a good nurse. And although I have absolutely no idea where my career in OB will take me, I can tell you this—I hope I never ever make a good nurse feel that way. As bedside nurses, we have to be gracious to our leadership team, because they have a difficult job with little thanks and little glory. But to every nurse out there that is a leader: do not take for granted your good nurses. They are all around you. Nothing in nursing is black and white. Be the kind of employer that people don’t want to leave, that people want to hear from. Be thankful for the nurses that come in on their days off, be thankful for the nurses that love the people they take care of, be thankful for the nurses who have a nursing heart. This Thanksgiving, I’m so very thankful that I work in a profession that I love, I work with people that I would do anything for, and I work for a population that I care so much about.

Until my next delivery ❤

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