This is basically what we were taught when I was a student nurse. Yes, that was many years ago and has changed a little since then. Today it is at least accepted that nurses and health care people have feelings but are still expected to keep it together when tragedy strikes. Is that the nurse you want to care for you or your loved one? Well, that’s another issue.
Let’s go back to when I was a student. Is it even possible to not feel or at the very least not express it. That is what we were taught. If we did express sadness when a patient died we were taken aside and counseled about being too emotional. It was a sign of weakness and we were cautioned to be careful if we wanted to continue on to become a nurse. How do you think that felt? From that time on we had to struggle to stay in control. This placed a lot of added stress on us. Not only did we have to repress feelings that are normal when patients are dying or in extremely stressful situations that would effect anyone, but now we had the added stress of being thrown out of the program and never becoming an RN.
So, how do nurses deal with all of this stress? Hopefully they have a very good support system outside of work, but it is very difficult for those that don’t work in this field to begin to understand. I know that families and friends try but they really don’t and they don’t want to hear all of the horrible details and they get tired of hearing how you feel day after day. Today there are supposedly people in hospitals that nurses can go to if they are having a difficult time dealing with a crisis that they have just been through on the unit or in the ER, but either there isn’t time to do so or the employee is afraid to do so because they may be seen as weak or unable to cope.
Therefore a lot of this stays with the nurse and it flows over into their personal lifes and are expressed in all kind of ways at home and in other aspects of their lives. I don’t mean to say that all nurses are crippled by this. There are all kinds of positive outlets that one can find to help alleviate some of the stress and obviously nurses do find ways to manage day to day. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if there were places outside of the hospital where nurses could express how they are feeling? Nurses need support. Nurses, also, need to support each other and care about themselves.