Dear Future Self –
I am writing this to you at the end of my second term in nursing school! They said the time would pass by quickly and boy, has it done just that. I am 40% nurse now with only 8 months and 11 days left till graduation! This term has brought about so much learning and growth…academic growth…personal growth…spiritual growth…and everything in between.
In hopes of documenting my journey into medicine and remembering where I’ve been, I am writing this letter to you, my future self as a nurse. May these words remind you of the bravery that it took to embrace each new step, each new learning hurdle, each new exam, and each new patient case that has brought you to becoming a nurse; may that inspire you for each new day in your work. This career path is not for the faint of heart and its learning and challenges do not stop at the end of nursing school. It’s a continual process of learning, failing and succeeding, reflecting and doing your part to touch a life and impact it forever.
Just some words of encouragement from this first year nursing student….
This career- it’s a commitment to compassion…a commitment to saving lives….a commitment to gracefully ushering life into death…a commitment to being strong and courageous while offering empathy and comfort.
Being on an oncology floor this term, I truly grew in my understanding of human connection, pain and its purpose, and I gained a unique perspective on life. It taught me to treasure the life that I live, to practice gratitude every day, and to see pain as having such a unique purpose in the healing process. As you grow in your practice of nursing, may you remember these things: may you choose to practice gratitude daily even when life hurts, may you see life as a gift and an opportunity rather than a struggle, and may you see pain as a gift, having a unique purpose in your healing and the healing of those around you. Remember the gift that’s found in holding a dying person’s hand, in offering to listen to someone’s story, in going slow enough to catch your patient’s personality in the midst of administering chemo treatment plans, managing nausea and vomiting, charting, emptying those bathroom hats where you find yourself inspecting the contents of diarrhea like that’s normal….because going slow and embracing each moment of this collision of your career and your calling will allow for extraordinary opportunities to share the love of Jesus and the kindness that this world so desperately needs. Remember the power that you felt when you read from that daily devotional…in a dark room where a woman just a week away from her 40th birthday lay in a bed gripping for life and in unbearable pain….flipping open to the patient’s devotional book- March 6th- and there you see it, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” from Philippians 4:13. And remember how that breath of scripture spoken out loud gave that woman hope as her eyes welled up with tears and she looked at you with such sincerity and whispered, ‘thank you’.
This term also taught me much about self-care and how important it is to not lose my identity in the care of others. When everyone looks to you to be their hero, it’s hard to acknowledge that we too, as health care professionals, are humans and are susceptible to that which ails our patients. Remember to care for yourself and nourish your soul and body. This career and calling is not for the faint of heart, so be gentle with yourself and accept His grace for each moment.
And above all….
Don’t let yourself ever forget the honor and privilege that you have in partnering with people…in loving them and caring for them in their weakest moments. You’re going to feel like quitting. You’re going to struggle. You’ll have days where you’ll wonder, “what’s it all for?” You’ll have days when people attempt to break you down, or challenge your intelligence, skills and right to be where you are. You’ll have moments when you question your own abilities, and perhaps your sanity- but You Will Rise. You’ll rise because your strength as a nurse is not determined by one grade, one shift or one job- it’s an ongoing journey of learning, honor, humility and a chance to make even the smallest difference in the lives of your patients, sprinkling the love of Jesus in every interaction you have.
Be Brave. Be Thankful. Choose to See the Gift of Extending Kindness to a Hurting World
Dear Future Self –