The Hazards and Gifts of Caring

Well into the second term of this program, we are learning about and addressing some deep and emotional issues. This term is about chronic illness and in that, also death and dying. We have been inundated with the stories of people who have lived one of both of these experiences- speakers, patients, those whose blogs we’ve chosen to follow as part of an assignment, and even some of our classmates.

It has been a privilege to hear and see these stories and it’s also been emotional. I’m going to generalize for a moment and say that most of us probably chose nursing because of our desire to really care for patients. That being said, this term is calling on our abilities to cope with some big things and practice caring for ourselves.

If you read my last blog post, you can probably guess my take on things, but I have found a renewed sense of appreciation amongst the sadness of these topics. I find myself taking time to feel thankful for the relationships in my life and making an effort to make sure that family and friends know exactly how much I care for them. I have always been a sucker for the fall, but I’m pausing a little longer to appreciate it. I notice myself constantly trying to put my experiences into perspective of a larger picture, sometimes stopping mid-frustration to take a breath and think, “if this is my biggest problem today, it’s a good day.”

Those close to me can attest to the fact that I’m an optimist, who usually finds a bright side. They’d probably also agree that I tend to feel things deeply. I’ve been brought to tears by a touching commercial and I cried so hard through my speech at my sister’s wedding, that I’m not sure all of it was understandable. Big emotions usually mean tears for me, whether they are happy or sad. As a nurse, I will be faced with big emotions on a daily basis- the patient’s, their family’s and sometimes, my own. I wonder about my ability to witness and experience these moments with my patients in a way that’s comforting and effective. I also wonder about my ability to maintain care of myself in the meantime. There will be times when sadness outweighs anything else and there will be times when that is really difficult.

To feel such a calling to a career that will challenge me in these ways is an interesting thing. I will need to find a way to always keep my patient’s best interest at the forefront, while also maintaining care of myself enough to do so. I will need to learn to let those around me experience their grief, however they are experiencing it, without trying to “silver lining” them. I will need to learn to treat my patients and their families, not how I would want to be treated, but how they want to be treated. What a tricky course to navigate, and what an awesome opportunity and responsibility it will be, to be a nurse.

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  1. Jenna,

    This is a beautifully written piece. Thank you for writing it. I love reading your entries.

    Joseph B.

  2. Jenna, great blog post! Yes, always make time for yourself- so that you may care for your patients full-heartedly. And thank for reminding me to stay positive! (Best advice you could give to anyone)

  3. Thank you for your kind comments!

About the Author

Jenna Cerny has lived all over the place but considers the NW home and loves Portland so far. She worked as a caseworker for child protective services before deciding to pursue nursing school. She is currently in the Accelerated BSN program here at OHSU and she intends to go into pediatric nursing. She also loves animals, the outdoors, attempting to cook, reading, writing, singing karaoke, and watching football/hockey.



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