Waiting for today...: Out of the Fire?

Wednesday, February 12

Out of the Fire?

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be in the medical field.  That is, if I were to choose college over the ARMY after high school.  As a kid I thought I wanted to be a doctor.  My grades were poor in middle school and high school so I had no choice but to deflate my “what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up” balloon.  It was my best friend that suggested the field of nursing.  After doing my research, I decided to go for it.  I took as many pre-requisites as I could at a community college before enrolling in a nursing program.  It was in my junior year of college when, while working at a nursing home, I realized exactly what I would do with my nursing career.  

While my classmates opted for specialty areas like labor-delivery and cardiac, I wanted to work to help improve the care of elderly in the community.  I and others chose to begin our careers on a medical-surgical unit to learn a range of foundational nursing skills that could only be gained at the bedside.  To a great extent, the patient demographic on my unit was elderly.   Caring for them in an acute care setting, however, posed both professional and personal challenges.  Because of this, I had come to realize my days on the unit were numbered.

Yet, I continued to do the best I could.  Each day I would make slight changes to my routine in hopes to improve the care my patients received.  But, it was all for naught.  By this time it had been five years at the bedside and I felt as though I was approaching a glass ceiling. After a few patient complaints, I realized I had done all I could and it was now time to revisit my career path.  Once and for all, I threw caution to the wind and decided to step away from bedside nursing in the summer of 2012.   
The community hospital that gave me my first nursing position was set to relocate to a brand new 160 bed facility.  I knew that all departments would need to hire additional staff to accommodate the increase in demand and so I applied for the posted part time position in case management.  Sometime after the move but before training began, I decided to cut my hours on the unit.  I made the decision with perfect timing because my part-time hours in case management would quickly swell to full time hours although my “status” as a part-timer would remain the same.  During this period, my depression waxed and waned but my anxiety was a constant.
The obvious root of my increased anxiety was directly related to my new role: different responsibilities, the need for an expanded knowledge base and a whole other set of personalities.  I admit, I was intimidated and my difficulties with communication put my anxiety and frustration on display.   In the past, frustration paired with my lack of confidence would eventually manifest itself in the form of passive-aggressiveness.  I didn’t want these behavioral issues to carry over into my new position.   So, I continuously reminded myself often that no matter how difficult the transition was, I indeed made the right decision.
A couple of months passed and I decided to further cut my hours on the unit.  Not long after, I left the unit all together.  With this decision I saw an opportunity to accelerate my understanding of the field thereby increasing my performance in my new role in hopes to also increase my confidence.  I had some success.  However, from day to day and week to week my hours fluctuated.  I soon began to blame the inconsistent hours for the fluctuations in my mood, just as I blamed bedside nursing.  However, with the exception of a few very overwhelming days, I managed to leave most of my increasing and seemingly random frustrations at the door.

next in series: Breaking Down