Hi! My name is Elizabeth Jensen. I’m a registered nurse on the Pulmonary (lung) Unit at Sanford Hospital. Let me begin by saying that nursing is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is demanding, stressful, challenging, and is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. On a daily basis I work my tail off caring for sick, rude, often ungrateful people. The hours are long, and I experience an incredible amount of stress and anxiety every time I go into work. Despite all of this, I am beyond grateful that God has blessed me with a job that both terrifies and challenges me. God is using my job to mold me into the person he wants me to become.
I’ll be honest, I hated my job when I first started on my own. Orientation was a 10 week process on my unit, and in that time I worked closely with a preceptor who trained me in. Orientation was great. I had someone backing me up constantly, advising and teaching me how to be a nurse. However, when orientation was over I was on my own. Bad. News. Bears. To say it didn’t go well would be a gross understatement. It was so much harder than I expected it to be, and I cried every single shift. Not the cutesy, mild, tearing-up crying. I’m talking BALLING my eyes out, sobbing uncontrollably in the locker room praying no one would see me. I was so incredibly stressed by the demands of my job. Who knew nurses had so much on their plate? I sure didn’t!
For the first few months I didn’t sleep or eat well. I felt like I was the world’s worst nurse. I was constantly stressed out at work. I couldn’t be a good teammate and help out my coworkers because I was struggling to do my own work. At home, I was a wreck, and I honestly thought that I had picked the wrong career. Talk about feeling devastated. “I worked my butt off in nursing school for this, my dream job, and I can’t do it!”. I was terrified to go into work, and my anxiety was out of this world. The only thing I was sure of during all of this, was that I needed God.
It became part of my work routine to pray on the way to work. Fifteen minutes of non-stop, God I need you, PLEASE HELP ME, prayer. The problem is that I was thinking about MY plan for my life instead of God’s plan. Instead of trusting in God to take care of me, I was trying so hard to do everything on my own, and I was failing. I’m so grateful that we have a God who is patient and who lovingly reminds us that we need Him. I started focusing on trying to “Let go, and let God”. It’s not easy to do, but I’m making the choice to give my grievances to God on a daily basis, and to let him handle them. Since I’ve been doing this, work has gotten better. I’m able to be a good teammate, and I’m finally starting to be a bit more comfortable and relaxed going into work. Things that once ruined my day are now just minor blips that I move past with God’s help. I still pray every day on my way to work, but my prayer has changed from “God please help me to have a good day.” to “God I know that without you I can’t do anything, but with you I can do everything. Please give me strength today to be the best nurse that I can be. Please help me to look to you for strength and guidance when things start to get difficult, and to rely on YOU instead of relying on myself. I pray that you would please keep me safe today at work, and that you would keep my patients safe. I pray that today would go smoothly if it is your will. Thank you for blessing me with a job that challenges me. Please help me to choose an attitude of gratitude today, and help me to remain positive. Thank you for your many blessings. You are a good, good Father.”
Yes, nursing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and yes it is demanding, stressful, challenging, and draining. Yes, I often work hard to care for sick, rude, ungrateful people, but I also work hard caring for sick, vulnerable patients, who are so appreciative of the care I provide, I have had the privilege of caring for inspiring, kind, and fun patients that have changed my life, reminding me why I became a nurse. Yes, the hours are long, but I am blessed to work 3 days a week and enjoy the remaining 4 days off. I still experience stress and anxiety every time I go into work, but I’ve got a God that is bigger than it all, and I take comfort in knowing that He is handling everything for me. I am so very grateful that God has blessed me with a job that challenges, rewards, and grows me on a daily basis.
To all of the nurses out there, THANK YOU!!! You are beautiful, skilled, and brilliant. You touch and change people’s lives every day. Thank you for all that you do. You are so appreciated!
To the new nurses out there, Nursing is tough. It is one of the hardest things that you will ever love. Some advice to someone who was/is in your shoes:
- Give it all to God. Your job will be tough and will test you from time to time if not on a daily basis. May you find strength in knowing that God is in control, and his strength knows no bounds. Remember to rely on and put your trust in Him.
- Be willing to learn, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t know everything, and you won’t be expected to know everything. You will learn something new every day. I’m still learning, and I think I will always be learning.
- Be compassionate. It’s easy to lose compassion in our line of work. Care for each patient as if they are a family member.
- When the going gets tough, ask for help. You are a part of a team, and we all need help from time to time. Give help to your teammates if you are able, and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it!!! Take care of your coworkers, and they will help take care of you.
- Take care of yourself. Your own health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is soooo important. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t well! Remember to take time to maintain your own health.
Thank you to Christina for giving me the opportunity to share my journey, and thank you all for taking the time to read it. I pray that you would all be blessed and remember to whom you belong!