22

I turned 22 last Tuesday, nothing special. I didn’t even tell anyone at work. I don’t know, for me it’s just a regular day. I did try to be excited about it but nothing.

It’s my 5th month on the job, I’m tolerating it, I guess. I still think nursing is not my thing. The whole soothe your patients, take care of them gig, not really my forte. 

Patients die on my shift and I ceased feeling  anything, just blank apathy, and relief because it’s one less patient to mind. Maybe because it’s a really common thing  our ward that I got used to it. I don’t know. 

I just don’t feel anything right now. So much for 22  

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Choices

I am a registered nurse, and I don’t want to work in a clinical setting. 

I know that confession may sound odd since nurses and clinical setups always go together, or at least the concept of a nurse working outside that setting is foreign to almost everyone.  Well, probably the BPO industry is an exception to this concept,  since nurses who can’t work in the hospital almost always go there.  But nurses can also work in a lot of areas outside the clinical, or patient care setting.  Like research, health program implementation, and military nursing. 

Even nurses are sometimes unaware of these career paths. Most of them usually go the well accepted path of working in well-known hospitals, who pays next to nothing but works you to the bone, for at least two years. Then they would spend a fortune just to work in another country. Just so they can earn more, and they can also petition their families to go there. 

Given that paradigm, I am expected to work in a clinical setting, because not doing so means wasting my four years of nursing education. But the thing is, I do not want to.  I never really wanted to be a nurse in the first place, then there is also the trauma from my father’s hospitalization. Not that he was treated badly, it’s just that watching someone die in a slow painful manner is really traumatic. And having that experience in my first year of nursing school is awful because as I progressed with my education, I learned more about my father’s disease and how it can be managed,  but it was too late because I can’t use that knowledge to save my father. I felt guilty for being useless. My psychology professor told me it’s not my fault,  but guilt creeps in from time to time and it’s hard to stop. 

I also don’t like working in the clinical setting because it depresses me. I hate seeing the patients suffer. Of course it makes me happy that I can help alleviate their sufferings, but there are just times when I know all my efforts are just for naught and it is really sad. There are also times when I cannot tolerate some situations. Like when we were rotated in the dialysis unit, I broke down. I know I should be in control of my emotions, and I should have dealt with the trauma years before that but… I had flashbacks and I almost didn’t function. There was also the time when my patient was dying, nobody told me he was,  I just knew. His BP was fluctuating, he was in a coma,  and his pupils are unequal; increased intra cranial pressure, I think.  I think I cried for at least 10 minutes.

I know nurses really go through those kind of things, dying patients, that is.  And I know that nursing school did not prepare us for those kinds of events. Actually no nursing book can prepare us for that.  I know nurses can get acclimated to that but I am not sure if I can, or if I can I don’t know how long.

So now, I applied for an office job, I want to take it but, my godmother recommended me in this good tertiary hospital and it’s kind of hard to refuse because it’s a favor. And I am confused.
Maybe the interviewer was right, people my age are still confused.  The young is perpetually restless.

Third

Job hunting was hell.

Especially if you’re in a third world country where the profession is considered as a commodity for export. Competition is hard; you need a good ranking, a good education, and the right connections (which she thankfully all have). But before you have an actual job at your chosen institution, you would need to go on training for certain skills and other licenses, which means money, in addition to that you would need to pay the hospital, who would (hopefully) employ you, to train you at their institution.
It’s more money down the drain really, especially if you consider the abysmal paycheck in proportion to your investment and insane work load.

It pisses her off that nurses in her country are undercompensated. She blames it on capitalism and globalization. Nurses from her country usually just work there for a minimum of 2 years before moving on to another country with better financial compensation.  That causes a fast turnover in the work force, which should be good. But the case is, there are many nursing graduates in the country, because parents (and relatives from countries with greener pastures) want their children to take up nursing so they can work abroad. So the selection process is quite bloody (not literally), although it produces top notch nurses for first world countries.

Some nurses end up working in BPOs and other non-course related fields. Which sometimes pay better than hospitals, but is probably a waste of 4 years of hellish nursing school. Some get stuck there, but some only work there temporarily just to get funding for the hospital training, and probably for a ticket to the first world.

She finds it quite sad really, the irony. That the nurses from her country are probably one of the best in the world, yet health care there (especially for the less fortunate and far-flung areas ) is not really up to par with some better parts of the world. It is not due to the lack of skill of the health professionals, rather it is due to the lack of funding and unequal distribution of health care.

Second

It wasn’t all that bad, her profession. Aside from feeling that she is not a useless human being, she feels a bit happy when patients thank her. As in genuine gratitude, and not a lukewarm robotic thanks we mete out in the name of propriety.

There was this one patient that she had, she cannot remember the particulars of the patient’s case, nor is she at a liberty to divulge it either– nurse-patient confidentiality and all that jazz. Anyways, she accompanied this patient to and fro the hospital to fix some papers (the patient don’t have a relative with them and they have vertigo) and the patient was thanking her relentlessly, even offering her lunch money as compensation. Of course, she did not accept it (reluctantly. Money is money), it was against the institution’s policy. She did feel nice though, as if she was really a genuinely nice person (aside from the popular view that she’s a sarcastic bitch with a heart [debatable] of gold). She did tell the patient that she is only doing this out of duty, but still, that patient thanked her continuously, even telling her that they wouldn’t have survived the whole afternoon without her (exaggerations applied) . It is quite touching really.

Then there is this one family, who gave her food — actually they insisted her to take it, sort of shoved it in her hand then walked away, nicely– it was from their mother, and the patient would be offended if refused. It was nicer than she made it out to be, really. It was really nice, and timely, she haven’t ate for half a day. 

Of course aside from feeling like an angel sent from heaven and all the food and gift perks, nursing can also make her feel human, in a good way of course.

She often see how families fight together; how they are united and supportive of each other, even though everything is going down the drain. There are children who are still happy, or at least calm even though they are aware that they are… for lack of better term, dying. They make her heart figuratively shatter into billion  little pieces with their bravery. Then there are elderlies who accepted their fate, as if dying is an old friend that they are patiently waiting for. They are the ones with most stories, and she loved listening to them.

Of course, not all patients are nice, there are some that she feels vindictive about. Of course, she’s not doing anything on purspose (or even accidentally, just in case you misconstrue) to hurt the patient, although she feels a bit better for watching them suffer, as if the deities are punishing them for their past transgressions.

Still, the patients all make her feel human, and she is thankful for them.