Ever spend your entire shift working your tail feathers off to be told by someone that you were a failure?
Or maybe it’s not YOU that is the failure; it’s the work you are DOING that is failing.
Frustrating isn’t it?
You see, last week I was stuck in a really difficult place. Caring for a patient on MAXIMUM life support, both chemically and mechanically. When I say maximum, I mean that multiple people commented that the room itself looked like an equipment fair. The surgeon, looking at the numbers, had hope that the patient could recover when there was evidence of some things improving. Consultants from every inch of the hospital were pulled in to give their advice, for a patient suffering from multi-system organ failure. The outcome looked grim.
Let me tell you that I am all for having HOPE. In fact, I have witnessed miracles happen more than once. However, did you ever sense a patient slowly fading away, as if their soul was no longer present in their physical body? These are the ones I give the gentle whisper that it is okay to LET GO.
As nurses, we have the ability to see the BIG PICTURE. Our number one priority as a nurse is to be the PATIENT ADVOCATE. Yet somehow that can get lost by looking at numbers, chasing outcomes and forgetting to focus on what IS. If nothing else, we are there for SUPPORT. For the patient and for the family. But this can leave us as the scapegoat. The middle man. Somehow, if something goes wrong, it tends to be our fault. Heck, we are left to blame for things we cannot even control! This can be from family, doctors or even the patient. That feeling that you are doing everything right but if something goes wrong, it’s all on YOU. We are not there to CURE. We are there to CARE. We are there to LISTEN. But, caring “too much” can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout. Where is the middle ground? How do we preserve OURSELVES while taking the best care of our patients?
It’s LETTING GO.
Letting go of the control. Letting go of the judgement. Letting go of the blame. Letting go of the idea that we can save everyone. Because we know in our hearts that what we do is the RIGHT THING. And while we can do everything in our power to help a patient, it’s not always up to US. We are BLESSED with seeing the big picture.
And in the end, failure is merely about perspective.