I began nursing school in awe of the nursing knowledge of my professors and the students ahead of us. As I leave, I’m still in awe of the nursing knowledge and alpha, beta, and charlie personality characteristics of my nursing instructors, and am humbled by how much we still have to learn even as we begin the celebratory circuit of pinning and graduation ceremonies and parties to celebrate our accomplishments. I’m mindful of my current and former classmates who will not be with us as we walk across the stage next week knowing that I could easily have been in that same boat.
Dr. Barkley taught us to remember that each person is a “pyschosocial, cultural, and spiritual being” and that we have to keep this in mind when working with and advocating for our patients. She kept us in check with frequent reminders to observe “professional courtesy on the floor” even while walking through the hallways at school and by asking us, “what’s your reference?” to make sure we really had read before class and weren’t just making stuff up.
From Dr. Miller, I learned humor is good and keeps class moving along but unless you know the material you won’t get very far. From some instructors I learned how I’d like to be and from others I learned habits I’d like to avoid.
From Dr. Persaud, I learned the most valuable lessons. That some things are unacceptable, that the way we choose to conduct ourselves can make or break us, and that we have to look inward at our own flaws and actions when situations go awry.
I’m humbled by the care, compassion, and integrity I saw from nurses as they struggled to meet the needs of their patients and balance those with a myriad of other concerns. I learned about team work and noticed I gravitated toward and away from certain types of people in my personal relationships.
I learned from my patients about facing death or chronic and debilitating illness with grace and dignity. I learned not to presume that I can accurately judge another’s pain. I learned about the quiet spaces inside myself where I go to help deal with pain and suffering I’ve witnessed. And I learned the importance of prayer, making time to have fun, and having a good support system to help me to get through those darker moments.
I’m learning how powerful words and ideas are. I’m working and trying hard to improve the quality of my speech and to restrain myself when words will not better a situation. I’m learning not to laugh at others because I haven’t been tested with what they have been and I can’t put myself in their shoes. And that type of hard-hearted laughter is a sign of arrogance. I want to be humble, I want my heart to be soft even as it makes me vulnerable, and I want to live with sincerity and integrity.
I’m beginning to think more like a nurse and I’m beginning to live more like a decent human being. That’s what I learned in nursing school. My sincerest thanks to all of my teachers, those that I named and those that I didn’t name, I’ve learned a lot.