You got a minute? Let's talk nursing. And I want to talk about nursing as it exists right now - not the almost-magical image of the profession you may have had before you started nursing school; certainly not the world of nursing that the public only knows from Scrubs - don't you wish it was that fun? - but the actual day-to-day conditions we're functioning in as we try to help people get and stay healthy.
It's not easy out there. The hours are long. There are fewer and fewer of us being asked to do more and more with less and less. Sometimes our patients don't appreciate us. Sometimes our colleagues don't appreciate us. And when we come home with our scrubs covered in stains of dubious origin and shop-talk stories that would make a dockworker lose his lunch, sometimes our own families don't appreciate us.
What keeps us hanging in there?
Some people say that answering that question is best accomplished with some serious therapy, but I don't think that's the case. I believe that nurses stay in nursing because they know we're the front line of healthcare. We're the people who are in the best position, with the best skills and most amazing commitment, to make a real difference in the lives of our patients. And sure, sometimes they don't appreciate it - but sometimes they really, really do.
Whether it's saving a life or getting an excruciating splinter out of an uncomfortable location, healthcare couldn't happen without you!
Knowing this is great - but it's not enough. We need a little help along the way to stay motivated. It's hard to maintain our emotional resiliency. I've even heard of nurses abandoning the profession for trades that offer less stress and more glamor: Things like teaching teenagers or becoming an air traffic controller!
But there is an answer designed to keep good nurses in the field: Laughter. The strategic use of humor means more than cracking a few jokes. It's a systematic way to approach every single aspect of your career. Learning how to identify the lighter side and use humor to bolster up your emotional reserves will make you happier. It will make you healthier. Most important of all, it will make you a better nurse.
Nurses' Week 2014: The Northeast Tour
This year, I'm planning a special Nurses' Week tour through the Northeast to teach nurses smart, simple humor strategies they can use to be more effective, happier, healthier nurses. If you'd like to have me appear at your facility, pass this information along to your nurse manager or whoever's in charge of planning your celebrations. I can't wait to see - and laugh with! - you!