Circle of Life, by Jeff Reichardt RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA, CSA

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I am tired.
I work so hard.

But, lately, I have been especially overworked.

My career has many stresses in it that are inescapable.
When I started it, I knew I would not get rich.
I knew that this career was a difficult one.
I knew that respect from my fellow professionals was hard won.

I knew that this profession had an image problem with the public.
But I felt that I could make a difference.
I felt that I could be a positive influence on my chosen career.

I was wide-eyed and naive, I'll admit, but part of me wishes that reality was different.

Part of me wishes that I could take all of the positives I have received and cancel out all of the negatives.

As for the positives. I am thankful that I was able to give a life back to an 18 year old who is just now learning how to live with being a quadraplegic.

I feel honored to have been asked to share in the bedside prayer for a brain dead 12 year old victim of an accidental gunshot wound. That his family, in their grief, thought to include me, his caregiver, in their grieving process.

For those experiences, I am grateful.

For the physicians who took the extra time to ask for my thoughts about the care of OUR patient. I am grateful as well.

For the families of hundreds of patients who stopped me in the hall to say thanks, I now say thank you.

I say thank you because I am leaving bedside nursing.

I am tired of the politicking.
I am tired of the back-stabbing.

I am so tired of the kinds of people who bolster their own pitiful egos by debasing someone else's. This group is not at all limited to physicians, although some nurses would like to say so.

I am tired of feeling guilty when I turn down a request from my manager to stay late for "another emergency". (The fifth one this week.)

I am tired of not receiving the respect I deserve, from my co-workers especially, as they should be keenly aware of what it takes, mentally, physically and emotionally to perform this, my chosen career.

I am tired of hearing about the shortage of nurses.
I think it's a wonder that there are any left to practice when you consider my above negative statements.

I know I am burned out. It's a shame too. I consider myself to be a good bedside nurse.

I worry about the next trauma victim, and their family as well.
Who will take the time (or will they?) to address the total family's needs ?

Who will sit and hold the hands of the parents who have just signed the organ procurement papers on their brain dead child, and now hope that, in their grief, some good will come ?

Who will take care of the body of the infant that just died in the ICN ?

It won't be me...

I am tired...

I hurt...

I am not alone, but it doesn't help...

I feel empty inside...

I can no longer do this to myself or my family...

I'm leaving what I love, but how can I?

The truth is I can't.

So, you see,
I am refreshed.
I still work hard.

But, lately, I have been eager to work.

My career has many stresses in it that are inescapable.
When I started it, I knew I would not get rich financially.
But my rewards have been many, and much more than money can buy.

I knew that this career was a difficult one.

But I have always enjoyed a challenge.
I knew that respect from my fellow professionals was hard won.
But I forgot that respect was a two way street.

I knew that this profession had an image problem with the public.
But, for a long time, I was just as much a part of the problem as the people that I had come to disdain.

I realize now that I HAVE made a difference.

I am no longer wide-eyed and naive.
I am seasoned and a little wiser.

And , YES, the positives DO outweigh the negatives.

So, to all the patients, the families, the doctors and all my fellow workers, let me say thank you.

I can't leave bedside nursing.

I need to be there for the next trauma victim and their family.

I need to hold the hands of the parents of that brain dead child.

And yes, I DO need to take care of the body of that child that died in the ICN.

It's GOT to be me !

I am refreshed...

I am now whole...

I have not been alone...

I am fulfilled...

I owe it all to my wife and children...

They have reminded me that this is what life is all about.

It's about joy, pain, courage and sorrow.

It's about taking care of each other. Meeting each others needs.
It's about renewing life and dignifying death.
But most of all, it's about being human. With all our faults and frailties...
all our strengths and weaknesses....
with all our capacities for kindness and compassion....
all our hopes and dreams...

In the end, we still carry on. Some say it's through God's will. I don't know...

For me, it's because I cannot turn my back on my fellow MAN. It's as simple as that.

For, if we turn our backs on our fellows, we greatly diminish ourselves...

Jeff Reichardt RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA, CSA
Cincinnati, Ohio



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