Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A Journalist Becomes A Nurse: repost

I am probably committing a major blogger no no but I just feel the need to repost this article.

It was written by an editor of The Wall Street Journal. He made a career change into nursing at age 40. Long story short he had only 3 patients and he found it difficult. He says he felt like a moron compared to the other nurses at times. He couldn't cope with the physical or mental demands. He needed cash. He got the hell out and went back to journalism.

Why am I re posting this: I recently read a comment where someone (possibly a journalist) made a comment about nurses being intellectually incapable of handling a debate. Nurse at my university (overseas)were held to higher standards than other students academically. We were told that we had to be better than your average student because of all the life and death responsibility in difficult conditions that we would have. When we graduated we had higher starting salaries than most other new grads started on after 3-4 years of Uni. Other countries do not hold the same kind of contempt for people that go into nursing that Britain does. The class system here has a lot to answer for in my opinion. Many people with degrees in other fields flunked right out of nursing school.

What is my response to non-medical people who are horrified at the idea of their bright child wanting to become a nurse?

Your child can be bright and academic and go to nursing school. The school won't take you if you can't hack it. Your child may even find it difficult. When they qualify they can go to the USA or Australia and make lots more money than you do. They are certainly going to have to use their brain on the job more than you ever did.

Bedside nursing is not a job for stupid people. Really it isn't.Walking onto the ward as an uneducated simpleton who cannot think with the responsibility that an RN has in the 21st century is insane. And it is a good way to get you in a lot of trouble with the law. If you kill a patient and then try to defend yourself by saying "oops I didn't know because I am just a stupid nurse incapable of doing anything but mopping brows" you are not getting off the hook.

Anyway I am rambling. Read on if you can stand it.

This is the kind of stuff we need to see from British Journalists. Unfortunately they do not have the gonads, the brains, or the work ethic and integrity to handle nursing.

Here are some excerpts.

"In 2002, at age 40, I left my job as a page-one editor at The Wall Street
Journal, my professional home of 15 years, to take a giant leap of faith -- in
myself. Like a lot of people, I questioned my purpose after Sept. 11, 2001.
Jolted from the complacency of a comfortable career, I became convinced that I
could achieve selfish fulfillment through devotion to service -- to the
individual, to the community, to the vulnerable.I considered teaching. I
considered law, medicine, pure science and research. But my thinking always
returned to the nurses I had watched care for my mother a few years earlier,
when she lay in an intensive-care unit in her final illness. I marveled at the
way they melded an aloof, precise professionalism with a mysterious human (and
humane) instinct. They seemed to operate in a purer space, beyond worldly
distractions. I would be a nurse."

"My skills were those of any new nurse. With easily shattered confidence, I
could start an IV, administer medications, bathe a bed-bound patient and change
linens, change dressings, insert all sorts of catheters and tubes, read lab
results and electrocardiograms. I knew to be vigilant against infection,
pneumonia, pressure ulcers, medication errors and the many other lurking threats
to hospital patients. On the burn unit, pain control loomed large. I also knew,
as both executor of treatment plans and patient advocate, to keep a close eye on
what doctors ordered. They make mistakes, too.

But in those first months, I felt stupid and slow, and thus dangerous. I
hadn't yet mastered the ruthless efficiency of thought and motion that lent
veteran nurses the appearance, at least, of enviable ease. Next to my crazed
back-and-forthing, they floated around the unit, maintaining a cool composure no
matter what crisis erupted.

.Basic nursing duties were enough to keep me on my feet until dawn: initial
head-to-toe physical assessments; hourly vital signs and other monitoring tasks;
medications; bed baths and dressing changes; regular suctioning.

There could be no skimping, no coasting through a shift because of a
headache or trouble at home. For 12 hours, I belonged to people whose survival
was at stake. A sloppy physical assessment could later explode in disaster if a
potential problem -- a bum IV, an incipient pressure ulcer, abnormal lung sounds
-- went unnoticed. Rooms required meticulous inspection, too, to ensure that
vital equipment was present and functioning: A missing bag mask -- attached to
those blue vinyl footballs you see TV doctors and nurses rhythmically squeezing
in emergencies -- could cause lethal delays.

Good lord, this man only had 3 patients and some of them were no where near as sick as my 10-15. Please please please read the whole article.


Ricky said...

An excellant article that is definately worth reading.

But I have to question if you read the whole article? That sounds ruder than I intended but I can't think how to rephrase. Hopefully my following comments will illustrate what I mean.

You say 'He couldn't cope with the physical or mental demands so he got the hell out and went back to journalism.'

I got a totally different impression from the article.

The article says: 'But though my new career terrified me, tired me and was impoverishing me, it yielded that satisfying sense of purpose that had motivated me at the start ... When morning shift change came around, I felt that I should take a bow. I had made peace with the clock, and I was proud to be a nurse. ... As my skills grew, my fortunes continued to wither. I was dipping into my retirement savings to meet monthly expenses, and still I bounced checks ... I could see no way of ever having enough to resume contributions to a retirement-savings plan -- an alarming prospect for a 42-year-old man... I was frustrated by circumstances and shamed by my inability to overcome them -- and by what that implied. Sooner or later, I would have to quit.'

This seems to me that far from quitting because of 'the physical or mental demands' the writer conquered these deamnds over time but then had to quit for financial reasons.

So was just wondering why/how you got a totally different interpretation?

Hope that didn't come across as too bitchy, as it's a genuine question. Great blog by the way.

Nurse Anne said...

I understand that he felt very proud of his nursing career but it seemed to me that the exhaustion etc was getting to him as well as the financial considerations. Did you read the bit about some of the things he did due to exhaustion?

I don't think your question is bitchy at all. I should have said "couldn't deal with the exhaustion etc and couldn't pay the bills"

Point is the guy didn't find it easy by any means. People of his age who go into nursing after a sit down job often do not last at the bedside very long anyway with or without money problems.

Nurse Anne said...

I might email him and ask him anyway.

He could still bank at the hospital if he wanted...on top of his full time job.

Ricky said...

Yeah I definately got the feeling that he was exhausted although it's a shame he didn't really mention whether this also improved later on other than to say 'My sleep improved'.

It's more than likely there were other considerations in his choosing to quit than just financial, although I get the feeling that money was the straw that finally broke the camel's back. But kudos to him for at least attempting it, when he really didn't have to.

And I have no doubt that many other people simply cannot hack the job - I know I wouldn't be able to.

Glamorganist said...

It's a superb article but I can't let this pass: "People of his age who go into nursing after a sit down job often do not last at the bedside very long anyway with or without money problems." He was only just past 40, i.e. still a young man!

Towards the end of the article he describes how, as his skills grew, so his ability to cope with the mental and physical stresses of the job improved. The permanent exhaustion passed. He says that he left for financial reasons and his words in the last paragraphs make it clear, very beautifully, that he wants to go back. He renewed his license for another three years...

Nurse Anne said...

I hope he answers my email. I am dying to know if he went back to it.

Alexis said...

Snobbery isn't confined to the UK, sadly. I remember when a friend of mine applied for nursing school. She'd been to a very good college for her undergraduate and was now applying to Columbia University for their BSN/MSN graduate entry program. Not easy to get into. Her parents' reaction was horrified. They couldn't understand why she didn't want to go to medical school instead.

I daresay that the author's motives were primarily financial. NYC nurses are paid well compared to London but it's still not enough to live on, especially if he was working at one of the public hospitals.

Nurse Anne said...

I am sure that is true alexis but of all the countries I have worked in, the US had the best deal for nurses.

I wasn't in NYC however. I can imagine that the cost of living would be sky high.

I am sure there are people over there who do not respect nurses but it is nothing like what you run into over here.

Anonymous said...

Nurse Anne, where are you? Did your computer break down again?

Happy1 said...

Anne where are you?!

Anonymous said...

Nurse Anne, where are you? We are starting to think the NHS had you killed.

Ali said...

I think you are rude, inconsiderate, and really didn't understand the entire article. You sit there bashing this man you don't even know for doing something that is courageous and possibly crazy: he did a complete 180 and left his cushy job to become a nurse.

Can't you remember how you felt when you first started working as a nurse? No one, and I mean absolutely no one, starts off with this intense confidence that you are doing everything perfectly and effortlessly. We all learn through our experiences, mistakes, and help from others. To write this man off as not being able to handle it because he didn't have the "gonads" to do so is making a completely uneducated statement... again, did you read the whole article? I found him impressive. I remember reading this article two years ago when it was first published and it has been this article that has stuck with me all throughout nursing school and beyond. Maybe you should consider opening your mind a little more. I just hope your quick-to-judge attitude doesn't translate into your patient's care.

viagra online said...

Well I think that's excellent, like I said, I do whatever I want because nobody pays my bills. and it's true I don't care I'm 23 years old and I want to study to things, psycology and cusine.
Thanks, good luck.

Francis said...

I have read the article and have been reading through the comments made and the statements about snobbery within the UK towards nurses etc etc. I would just like to say, that having been trained in the UK and working for the NHS, there is only snobbery if you are not very good at your job. There are high flyers within this career, and if the Doctors and your collegues trust you and your judgment and as you gradually climb up the ladder, you might find that this is not the type of prejudice you find within this career. I must also say that what other countries don't possess is an NHS, and everyone only ever hears the bad and never the good. And the NHS is a brilliant thing that provides support and treatment for ANYONE including people who cannot afford healthcare, such as the homeless and those living in poverty. So do not NHS bash, you have no idea.

Viagra Online Pharmacy said...

I met the editor of The Wall Street Journal in a party , I think that he is one of the best and more friendly person that I have ever met

pharmacyescrow said...

The difference between jobs it is quite abysmal. We know that there are things that you need to deal that it makes the job even harder.

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