In the past few weeks since I took on my full-time quality role I’ve gotten the comment, “You’re very lucky, you know,” quite a few times. It rubs me the wrong way every time… perhaps not the comment so much as the tone that goes with it… and what’s surprising is that I’ve gotten the comment from people who I am fairly close to in my work life. The “luck” seems to be in regards to working in an office/administrative role as a new nurse, with the unspoken undercurrent of “gee, how nice that you didn’t have to pay YOUR dues.” Perhaps I’m being too sensitive, but judging from the number of times I’ve heard this, I think I might be on to something here…
Why does this bug me so much? I guess because I don’t know how to respond or I feel as though I should be apologizing for having this job, like I somehow acquired the role in an underhanded, sneaky way… which I didn’t. I feel like asking what these individuals think I should have done… turned down the job when I knew my other option was working per diem with no benefits or guaranteed hours so I could hold out for a nice bedside med-surg job in order to prove that I’m a Real Nurse? Or maybe I should ask what makes me less deserving of the position than someone else.
Here’s how I calculate my luck-to-deserving ratio:
I was lucky to be placed in this office as a student; this hospital wasn’t even on my list of options and it certainly wasn’t the specialty I was planning to go for. But once I was placed there it was MY choice to make it the best experience I could. I could have bitched and moaned that I wasn’t getting the bedside/hands-on experience I was expecting, but I chose to be open-minded and learn all I could.
I was lucky that I was in a department that was supportive of having a student and allowed me to have some independent responsibilities. But it was my own maturity and work ethic that allowed me to carve a niche into the department and prove myself valuable and trustworthy. It was that value and trust that led to my first paid job in quality. I never had expectations that I would be given any sort of job in the department. I was honored to be able to at least continue the work I’d been doing as a student and help out the others where I could.
I was lucky that, when my own work crisis happened, the situation in the quality office was such that they were going to need to hire someone anyway. But it wasn’t handed to me because of some “poor Rori” pity. I bring with me plenty of analytical skills from Career One and that’s what they needed. Not to mention that I just finished a master’s degree the had a major focus on quality improvement in nursing and healthcare. I was already up to speed on many of the measures that I would be reviewing. I don’t need as much help getting going as someone brand new to the department would. I earned this job.
I guess I’m feeling defensive… and I wish I could explain to people how heartbreaking the whole sequence of events of the past month or two have been and how I wish I had never had to make this decision. I went into nursing school in large part because I wanted to be a maternity nurse. I’d dreamed about it for so long and was thrilled to be able to start my career in that specialty. I love birth. I love bearing witness to a family’s growth. I love seeing miracles every day. But I hate that birth is treated as a pathologic process as a rule, rather than the exception. I hate that the only time I ever saw a vaginal birth that didn’t involve Pitocin augmentation was when a woman came in to the hospital three pushes away from having a baby in her arms. I hate that nearly 50% of our births are Cesarean. I do not feel that our care is truly in the best interest of mom or baby. And sadly, I know that the defensive approach to birth is rapidly becoming (if it’s not already) the norm across the country. Many maternity nurses can deal with this… not to say that they like it, but they are willing to provide care under these circumstances and try to make the experience the best it can be given what they have to work with. I couldn’t. And I wanted to. I really really wanted to. Part of me hoped that I could become more complacent with our stats. But I couldn’t. I loved my patients, but I hated the orders I had to carry out. It’s a terrible web to be caught in.
I give thanks every day that I can now wake up looking forward to going to work. I give thanks that I work with a tremendous group of people and that I can impact the care we provide as a hospital. I feel blessed to have a job that I enjoy during this time of economic downturn. But I miss my patients every day and I wish that I hadn’t ended up in my job the way I did. If this is luck, it’s rather painful!