My first year of nursing school has officially come to an end and let me just say damn that was hard, but so so so good! I probably doubted myself a hundred times and questioned my decision to become a nurse more than I’d care to admit. I pushed myself academically, emotionally, and physically and I can still  say I wouldn’t change my degree for anything. I can’t wait to see how much growth I go through in the next couple years as my placements (real life RN experience in a clinical setting) get longer and my courses become more challenging. Probably the most encouraging part of this year was going on placement. I can’t go into details for privacy reasons but I worked in an aged care facility. It’s definitely not the most glamorous nursing field, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The first day of placement was also the hardest day of the two weeks. I wiped so many bums, got hit, was peed on, and dealt with some questionable bodily fluids. The struggle was real! I heavily questioned if I could do this for the rest of my career. Could I really wipe hundreds of bums’ day in and day out? When that clock hit 11pm I was more than ready to walk out and not go back the next day to be perfectly honest. But I had received some thoughtful encouragement from someone after that first day, (this person probably doesn’t even realise how much this helped me) but what he said made me remember why I wanted to be a nurse in the first place. So, I went back and by golly I’m glad I did because I made connections with a couple of amazing patients.

Nursing is hard work, but it is beyond a doubt the most rewarding job I can imagine

Let me just say that I hold a special place for all of the patients I attended (yes even the ones that hit and peed on me). I love every one of them for a variety of reasons and believe that they are all such lovely human beings. And this is the bigger point of my post today, even though they are old and wrinkly, they are beyond a doubt spectacular people. You may wonder why I’m pointing out they are old and still lovable. Well ladies and gentleman I met some fellow students who had some not so nice things to say about elderly people and let me tell you it straight up broke my heart. Getting old is not a choice, it’s the circle of life (insert the lion king theme song). We can’t stop ourselves from aging and neither can anyone else. But just because someone is old doesn’t make them disgusting. Trust me, they are so much wiser then you would think and have (hopefully) hearts of gold. One day we are all going to be old and do you really want someone thinking you or your partner is gross? No of course not. Everyone gets sick. It doesn’t matter what age, race, or sex you are, at some point or another you’re going to get sick and someone will need to take care of you. And no one wants to be taken care of by someone who can’t stand them.

If you’re planning on going into healthcare you desperately need to evaluate if you can put aside your personal prejudices when caring for someone, and I don’t just mean putting on a fake smile because it is so much more than that. When working in healthcare you’re caring for people who are in need of true compassion and understanding. You don’t get to choose who you take care of, you just have to do it. A patient is a person; no matter who, what or how they look or act. If you can’t care for them like someone you love, then you shouldn’t be in healthcare. I may not want to work geriatrics for the rest of my life, but I gave all of my patients the care they deserved because that’s what I would want for myself or my loved ones. I have a passion for nursing, and I took the time to develop relationships with each of my patients. It doesn’t matter that they were old, or if they were mean or even if they peed on me; I gave them the care I knew they needed despite how I may have felt.

It’s all about how much empathy you have for other people and their experiences

Being a nurse or working in healthcare isn’t for everyone. But if it’s something you plan on making your career please take note that everyone is a person and everyone deserves equal care. I can’t wait to see where my nursing education will take me next. I can only hope that I’ll take my reflection on my past experiences and put it forward.  My experience was unbelievable and I learned heaps in those two weeks alone. Even now I think about the people I cared for and hope they are doing well. Despite everything I went through I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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