Since leaving the floor I worked on, many other nurses have left as well. The unit we worked on was challenging physically, emotionally, and psychologically as I think most oncology units are. Most of the nurses who have left have continued to work with the oncology population but in outpatient facilities. Some nurses, we refer to as lifers, will start and end their careers on an inpatient unit. I don’t know how they do it, but major kudos to them.
No matter what the trajectory is of your nursing career, there is one thing that I have found consistent: the bond amongst nurses. Nursing is a unique career choice. You spend your work hours taking care of others. These people are likely strangers who have been entrusted in your care. That is a lot of responsibility! You will have to learn how to rely on others for help when you need it and to share your knowledge amongst each other. This will build trust amongst a team of nurses and is invaluable.
Another aspect that helps bond nurses is the fact that you will see each at your best and at your worst. By this I mean you will celebrate together the subtle wins. It can be as simple as a patient being able to go to the bathroom after days of constipation. Yes, that is a win. At your worst you will lose your temper after an excruciating day and your fellow nurse will give you a hug rather than take it personally. They will understand why you are feeling the way that you are. There will be days that you will laugh together, some days will be silent and some days you will cry together. There is no judgment, only support.
Nurses tend to have a good sense of humor. Grant it, to the outside world, what nurses laugh at can be considered very unfunny and somewhat twisted. We own that. I think humor to nurses can work as a stress reliever and as a coping mechanism when times get tough. Laughter is a great distraction and can give you a much needed momentary break from your surroundings.
The bond amongst nurses can continue to grow years after you have left your previous job. When you see a nurse you used to work with you can quickly begin to reminisce about the good times and the more challenging times. You have experienced together what others can’t even begin to fathom, and those experiences will never be forgotten.
I appreciate the time I spent as a floor nurse because I think that it changed me as a person in a good way. It helped me to create these everlasting bonds, made me a more grateful person and taught me many lessons about life. I’m forever grateful to the patients for whom I took care of and for the nurses I had the honor and privilege to work beside. I hope that every nurse can have a similar experience to mine with creating these everlasting bonds of friendship.