Monday, December 10, 2012

A letter

Dear next year's GEPNs,

Your fate (as it relates to grad school) is currently being decided by my professors on the admissions committee.  I know this waiting game is nerve-wracking, but it's out of your hands now and you've done everything you can do.  You worked your butt off on that application, I know you did (because I did too).  I signed up a few days ago to host you in February when you come for your interviews, and I'll also be speaking to you as a current GEPN when you split into these little sub-specialty groups, also on your interview day.  But I have something to tell you now.  And I will tell you this again and again. And you might look at me as someone who is not even finished with her first semester of nursing school and roll your eyes and wonder what in the hell of value I might have to share with you (and you would probably be right) but bear with me.

I am here to tell you that the culture of nursing has to change, and it can change, and it is changing, and you are part of that.  It starts with us.  It begins with us, as nursing students.  It goes like this - for a long, long time, nursing has been about "eating your young."  I'm not going to get on a soapbox as a baby nursing student and say a lot about the value of how preceptors and instructors teach us, but what I am going to say is this, so listen closely:

You need to take care of each other.

You need to.  It is nonnegotiable.  Other graduate programs might be about competition.  They might be about beating each other out for opportunities at internships and jobs, and they might be about proving yourself to your instructors and your peers.  I wouldn't know.  I wouldn't know, because I chose a profession that is built on a foundation of caring and that begins with how we take care of each other.  You will hear Linda make offhand references to getting close to your clinical group members, or you might hear older students talk about the connections they've made within their specialty.  That is not enough.  Hear me now, and hear me good - when you show up to Yale next August, you are not alone.  You are not an island.  You will not survive, you will not thrive, you will not be happy if you try to be an island.

You need to hold someone's hand when your first MedSurg test grade is posted.  You need to be able to look at someone in your clinical group and with only your eyes tell them that you need help bathing this patient, that it is too much and too hard for you to do alone and they will do it.  You need to be able to go hide in the bathroom at clinical and cry for two minutes (and two minutes ONLY) and know that they will cover for you.  You need to be able to study with someone (or multiple someones) late into the night before your test, and you need someone to tell you to take deep breaths and help you brainstorm nursing diagnoses for your care plan for your patient that is dying.  You need to be these things for your peers.  You need to be brave, and do these things even when they don't come easily to you (believe me, they do not always come easily to me) because as much as you will hear other people tell you during interview day and orientation and over and over again that you need to take care of yourself (and this is true, you do) you need to take care of each other, too.

You will be a better nurse because of it.  You will be a better person, too.

I wish that someone had told me this when I started.  Because I am fighting to make this true now.  And I am fired up about it, in a good way.  I was lonely and sad last week, and wallowed for a day and then stopped.  Because I am not the only one that is lonely.  We are all orbiting around in this incredibly hard new universe, feeling lonely and tired and scared and alone.  It doesn't need to be that way.  I know it doesn't, because I stretched and bent and reached out and I didn't break and things are better and it can be that way for you too, from the very beginning, not just starting in December.

Take charge.  Take care of each other.  Be each other's best resource, be the person someone calls in the middle of the night, be the best version of yourself that you never knew you could be.

Because nursing school is a long road.  But it's a hell of a lot more fun when you've got great people on the road right there with you.


1 comment:

Duchess said...

This is awesome, Cait...I love it.