I am about to hit the four year mark at my current place of practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner, and many of you know how much I love my job. I firmly believe that God led me to this job four years ago for a very specific purpose, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such an awesome group of patients and families. Here are ten (non-clinical) things I have learned on the job over the past few years…
10. Saying “you’re doing a great job” can go a long way. Especially with first time mothers, and especially with teenage moms. I think, deep down, we can all doubt our abilities as parents, and providing affirmation for how a weary, sleep-deprived parent is doing can change a parent’s countenance and can give them that boost to “keep on keeping on”.
9. I can’t make everyone happy. And I can’t get all bent out of shape when I don’t. I will not give everyone who walks in the door amoxicillin, and that is that.
8. It’s okay to share. When I began my job, I tried not to share personal details with my patients, as I thought it was surely unprofessional to cross that line. However, I find that many of my parents respond well to my “been there, done that” stories. When I can empathize with them on a personal level. Many people ask about my family and know about our adoption, and in developing this type of patient-provider relationship, I believe the groundwork of trust has already been laid, creating a far more natural arena as we discuss sensitive matters regarding their health. I can’t tell you how many times I have told the “I fell down the stairs with my son and broke his leg” story… because sometimes parents need to know that I’m human (oh am I human), and horrendously embarrassing things happen to me too.
7. I work in an all female workplace. Drama abounds. My coworkers are my friends, and I love them. But I have four words for the drama: stay. out. of. it. That is all.
6. When it comes to illegal immigration, I’m not so sure what I believe anymore. I mean, I know that it’s against the law and shouldn’t happen and whatnot. But when I see so many families who have husbands, brothers, moms, and cousins who are here illegally… and I know them well… things change. It’s heartbreaking to see children weep when their dad is deported back to a place of danger and violence. Agonizing to hear stories of loved ones who died crossing the border. This is a reality that I previously knew only through the media and now see firsthand. While I am entirely too personally entwined and conflicted in this issue to make a political statement, I do know one thing: as a Christian, I am called to love and serve these families well.
5. Sometimes it’s okay to run late. Now this one is hard for me because in my perfectionist tendencies, my heart tends to race and I start to sweat if I see a waiting room full of people. That said, though, I have to consistently remember that I am treating people, not just chart numbers or diagnoses. And sometimes people don’t fit neatly into 10 minute time slots. To sit down with a parent or patient and really hear their concerns or discuss a diagnosis is critical to holistic practice, and something I am unwilling to forgo, even if it means I will be dealing with disgruntled patients later in the day.
4. It’s okay not to know. When a case crosses my path that baffles me, sometimes one of the most clinically sound things to say is “I don’t know”, and to refer to someone who might. People typically appreciate the humility and honesty.
3. Most parents just want what’s best for their kids. Gang members and convicted felons can still love their kids and want what’s best for them. They are human. They are parents. Give them the benefit of the doubt. But when something is “off” or you sense that they might not have the best intentions in mind for their child, fight for that child.
2. Pray. I think I have mentioned this before, but every workday, I consistently pray for three things: wisdom, patience, and compassion. I pray on my way to work and throughout the workday. I choose one verse a day to keep at my desk by my computer to keep me focused on whom I serve and for whose glory I am working. I can not tell you the difference this makes in my work.
1. Bad things happen, but God is still good and sovereign. Children are abused. Go hungry. Get cancer. Die. This is devastating and tragic, but it is not a reflection on who our God is. I find my hope in knowing that Christ has already won this battle between good and evil and that He redeems all things.