This post has been in the making for some time now… Primarily because for a while, I didn’t have anyone to write about. But also, because the topic has already been covered so eloquently by others. @thebarefootnurse shared in a facebook post everything that goes in to loving a nurse. I’ve linked their words, but would also like to offer a few of mine.
Not only in the general sense of burnout, but what specifically affects relationships is compassion burnout. Sometimes, we don’t want to talk when we come home. Or if we do, we don’t quite know what to say, or if we can even say anything at all… Thanks HIPAA. We put our lives, our emotions, our families on hold so we can give our all to someone else. Fully emersed in their lives, their emotions, their families for 12+ hours a day. There are some days we give all we have, that there might not be much left for you when we get home.
And some days, we aren’t quite able to leave it all at work. We come home sad, frustrated, scared, worried. Did we forget something? Did we miss a lab? Are we going to have our same confused, combative patient assignment tomorrow? Will we be fully staffed?
It isn’t an easy job, to love a nurse. There’s a learning curve for sure. There are “bad” shifts that can range from a frustrating conversation with a doctor to a complicated discharge, or from a security-needed situation to a morally distressing code. All we need is to be the ones taken care of. To feel heard. To feel supported. Needs to know that you “get it”. Needs to be the one taken care of every once and a while. Needs a shoulder to cry on when they can’t even tell you why they’re grieving.
You didn’t sign up for this. You probably didn’t plan on eating dinner alone, or waiting until 8pm. You most likely don’t need to hear about XYZ medication or wound or code or family member. You never thought you’d sit through an hour of critiquing accuracy when just trying to watch Chicago Med or Grey’s Anatomy. Your planned date nights out turn into comfy nights in watching Food Network after a third (or fourth) 12 hour shift.
My point is: as much as it take a special person to be a nurse, it takes an equally special person to love one. And let me tell you, once you find those special people, hold on tight. Because it makes this whole crazy thing called nursing that much easier.