Thursday, May 12, 2011

happy international nurses day. i think.

It's International Nurses Day. Hurrah. Or something like that.

I've never really engaged with International Nurses Day, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps because I'm not a fan of artificially created moments to celebrate people when we could and should be expressing our appreciation frequently, daily even. Maybe because I was more interested in the authentic, heartfelt thanks of patients who felt well cared for. Possibly there's a cultural element to my disconnect - Australians aren't into a lot of fanfare (although that seems to be changing lately). We just shoulder the load, get on with the job and avoid standing out from the crowd too much.

This year I have an additional reason for feeling less than enthused by International Nurses Day. I am no longer employed as a nurse. Effective 20 May 2011, I have been sacked. I am still a registered nurse, but my options for working as one are now significantly reduced. Not that I'm particularly surprised. The state government has been bleating on about cost cutting measures for several months now (this has to be the longest lead up to any budget ever), casuals have been on the hit list for some time, and I haven't worked a shift since October last year. The fact that I was not costing the government a brass razoo while sitting on their books, or that I have been well respected for my clinical skills and might still have something to offer, is meaningless in black and white. I was an easy target, a casual with no rights, not contributing to the system... off with her head.

Part of me is relieved - I've been worrying about how and when I could fit nursing shifts in. My life has moved on and nursing is no longer my main focus. Now I am free to stop worrying.

Part of me is annoyed. School holidays are coming up in early June and I was planning to try and get some shifts and some yummy cash over the break.

Part of me is a little scared - school chaplaincy pays a pittance, literacy support only a little more. Now I'm partially unemployed, how can I prop up my income? At the same time I'm not really worried - I have plans, lots of plans - but my chance of making good, quick money with a nursing shift or two has kind of gone.

People who know what I'm passionate about whooped. "Yippee!" they cried. "You're free!"

And I am. I've never worked in a place filled with so much bullying and back biting as this hosptial. I'm free of that. But I'm also a little sad. I loved nursing once, before I moved to a small town where career options were limited and too many big fish swam in a tiny pond. Nursing was who I was. Now who am I? They don't want me. I feel something of an outcast... Melodramatic I know, but I can't deny the sense of loss I feel at no longer being employed at the hospital. I've been moving along a different path for some time, but now I'm sacked, it's like a door has shut behind me. I doubt I'll return (though one can ever be too sure about what the future holds I suppose) and I feel bereft.

A little bereft. In truth I'm still doing what I always did - caring. For me, nursing was always about caring. Now I just care in different ways in different places. School, neighbourhood houses, workplaces. And I can connect deeply with people for the long term.

I'm content with where I'm at. My jobs are stretching and fun and meaningful. I love that. I sense I'm where I'm meant to be and I wouldn't change a thing.

So, happy International Nurses Day. Thank you to all you fabulous nurses. And farewell.


At 11:01 pm, May 12, 2011, Anonymous 2paw said...

Having been quite reliant on lovely nurses over the last 10 r so years, I can sincerely say that when I am feeling poorly, there is no better sight in the world than a nurse. Not a doctor, but a nurse. Thank you for all your caring.
I also know what it is to suddenly not to be what you defined yourself as. Though I still refer to myself as a teacher sometimes. By accident. I hope you find joy and satisfaction in all the other parts of your life.
Lara should sock some of her myriad advisers and spin doctors instead of real people.


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