Since my last post, I have considered what I would write about in my next post. I finally decided upon the topic as I checked my Facebook notifications. Today marks another year of bringing glory to God and enjoying Him forever (The Westminster Divines, 1648).
Like most people, as my birthday approached I found myself pondering the events of the past year of my life. I discovered a common thread intricately woven into those moments: a year of firsts.
My 22nd year commenced with my first semester as a college senior and final year of nursing school. I also started my first nursing position at Parkland Memorial Hospital as a Nursing Student II on a Trauma-Surgical Unit. Through this job I gained a variety of experiences that I know will continue to benefit me throughout my nursing career. In school, I took care of my first pediatric patient, visited my first psychiatric hospital, attended my first AA meeting, participated in my first Code Blue, and many other things–not to mention passing HESI (much to my IMMENSE relief!) and completing my first nursing degree!
The next significant first involved obtaining my first job as a Registered Nurse. Unlike my past experiences with job interviews, my nursing interviews did not yield the desired fruits–or so I thought. Every job I held before becoming an RN, I obtained with relative ease–always receiving a positive response. I expected the same results for my nursing interviews. In fact, I had the arrogance to place my trust in my resume and interviewing skills. Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (ESV). I must have filled out 30-40 different applications, but I only heard back from about 13 positions and only then to receive rejection after rejection. Pinning and Graduation Day came and went without an assurance of a job and I found myself wallowing in a deep pit of self pity and anger at God for “letting this happen to me.” But God is not a man that the unbelief, the faithlessness of a man should hinder Him from His set purpose. God in His wisdom, as a loving Father, humbled me in order to refine me and to remind me to trust in Him and not myself (Hebrews 12:5-17, ESV; Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)). After all the graduation festivities were over, I finally recognized and confessed my sin in not trusting God to provide for my needs; later that same week, I received a call from Kelli, my current manager, offering me a position on her unit (Matthew 6:25-33, ESV). I have never ceased to thank God for not giving me what I wanted, but instead, placing me according to His plan. I have learned that the world’s best does not always coincide with God’s best and I know that God’s best always supersedes and outshines that which the world can offer–even if we do not always recognize it at the time.
I now had a job to look forward to; my first position as an nurse! Starting on June 7, 2010, I had only two concerns during the two weeks that past between the day that I accepted the job and my first day of orientation: my Graduate Nurse (GN) Permit and NCLEX. Texas State Law requires that all new nursing graduates hold a valid GN Permit before taking part in any patient care. This time, however, I acted as I should have done during my job search: I sought God’s face, told Him my concerns, and trusted Him with the results (Matthew 7:7-11, ESV). My GN permit arrived the day before my first scheduled shift on the unit. Three weeks after starting my job I sat for my boards. Again, my first inclination pushed me to doubt God’s sovereignty over my situation and to mistrust His plan for me. Romans 8:27-29 states,
“And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in or that He might be the firstborn among many brothers” (ESV).
Also, it says in Ecclesiastes that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1-8, ESV). I knew, therefore, that although I had no guarantee that I would pass NCLEX I knew that I could trust God with my future no matter what the outcome because “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV). By God’s grace, I earned my first Registered Nursing license on July 6, 2010!
Many other “firsts” have happened to me in the year that has elapsed since October 24, 2009. However, I will conclude with what I consider to be the most life-changing event of that year. Every nursing student learns about the phenomenon known as “nursing intuition” during their time in nursing school. The first recollection I have of “nursing intuition” took place during my first semester in Texas Woman’s University’s College of Nursing. My first Medical-Surgical Clinical Professor talked about “nursing intuition” many times–both in the clinical, laboratory, and lecture settings. She explained “nursing intuition” as a gut reaction to a patient or situation. As we gained experience as nurses, she told us that we would come to instinctively know when something was not right with our patients, that we would learn to trust that feeling, and that we would learn to move heaven and earth to obtain whatever our instincts led us to believe our patients needed. I did not expect to have my first experience for several weeks, even months after beginning my first nursing job. In fact, I truly did not expect it until after I came off of orientation four months down the road.
Kelli, my manager, hired me to work the night shift (7pm to 7am). However, she had me begin orientation on day shift (7am to 7pm) for the first two months before switching me over to finish the last two months of orientation on night shift. God blessed me with many, many experienced and gifted preceptors–both day shift and night shift. One of the first preceptors Kelli paired me with on day shift was T.J. During my second shift with T.J., I had my first personal experience of “nursing intuition”. T.J. assigned two patients at the start of our shift for me to care for specifically. The day wore on and appeared uneventful until around 5pm when I went into the room of one of my patients to “round” on him. My eyes took one look at him and I just knew that something had changed. That instinctive reaction led me to complete another full head-to-toe assessment on my patient and yet I found nothing had changed when I compared it with my morning assessment. Rather than relieve my concern, this only served to heighten the urgency I felt. I went and found T.J. and told her what had happened. She also came and looked at our patient only to obtain the same results as me. I next went to the charge nurse and asked her to also look at this patient. When she also did not find anything significant, I simply made note of everything that occurred in his chart and made sure that I warned the night shift nurse to keep an eye on him. The next day T.J. and I both worked. However, I was paired with a different preceptor and had a different set of patients, so I did not see much of T.J. until we both took our lunch breaks. While we ate our lunches, T.J. told me that the condition of the patient I had been concerned about had worsened. She told me that my warning had kept her vigilant and had helped prevent the patient’s death.
Since that day, I have encountered many similar situations and have learned how to advocate for my patients. I also came to the firm conviction that “nursing intuition” is truly the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It took me over a month to realize this truth. My preceptor, T.J., is a strong Christian woman. Of all the staff on duty the day I cared for that man, she alone took my concern seriously. She did not wave off my concerns as the over reaction of a GN because she recognized what I had yet to learn: the Holy Spirit had prompted my concerns.
The Westminster Divines. (1648). The Westminster shorter catechism: With scripture proofs (B. Aguilera, Ed.).