My experience of returning to nursing after believing that I never would

Jul 24, 2022 | Self care

In 1977 when I was 17 years old I entered the healthcare system as a student nurse. I worked in an institution with people with intellectual disabilities and really enjoyed this. Equally I also loved my nursing studies alongside my full time nursing work.  I soon gained a more responsible position and after a few years and further study, I became the head of a bigger team. 

Ten years in the healthcare system left me without any appreciation for myself, burnt out and not coping with the pressure and the huge demands of the system at that time. I did my utmost to fit in and to please others. As I had grown up in this system, I began to become aware that I had no idea of who I truly was. I was totally defined by my job and the recognition I received for working hard by filling in all the gaps when this was needed. This resulted in me becoming the ‘tough nurse’, hardened, for whom everything and everyone else came first. 

Looking around, this is what I saw nursing was about… I would never be enough. I had failed. I had given myself away completely. I felt frustrated and I gave up, withdrawing from the profession I so loved. I closed the door and I was convinced I would never go back.

More than 20 years later, I returned to nursing. Being at home was no longer enough, in the last few years at home I made steps to be more caring and loving for myself and my body and because of this development I felt my value. I could feel how I had been hiding and how I had used my qualities only in and around my home, for my family, as a mother, a partner and a friend but there was a whole world out there waiting for me. You could say I missed the purpose I knew a job would offer.

In that time a lot has changed, both for me and in nursing. My ‘coming back’ was as a nurse in the community. When I came back I needed to complete some online study to refresh my nursing such as all the paperwork and of course updating on nursing practice and procedures.

Since returning to nursing every day is a joy. To be with people, to care and nurture them, to do whatever is needed has been the same for the last 8 years since my return. I now work in aged care and I have taken on more responsibility, now being responsible for the quality of nursing in the home. I am currently at the age of 58, when a lot of nurses decide to work less hours, I am instead choosing to work more hours than I have for a long time.

Through building a relationship with myself and my body, building a loving relationship that continues to deepen every day, by how I live, the way I feel about myself and my work, I have been able to return to healthcare where demands are even higher than they were 20 years ago. Even with all of this… I just love my job!

The love that I have been building within me, with the way I care and nurture myself, is now what is coming out as the standard for my work, the way I am with patients and also how I am with my colleagues. There is a quality, that I very much appreciate, which I now bring to all of my life. This feels like a stillness inside and people feel this about me as I work. 

To build this loving relationship has been and still is a process, from living what the outside world wants me to live, to now living the connection with the love I am from inside, step by step, every day. I make mistakes. When I do I take a step back, but choose to come back again and again.

Love is patient and will never give up and because of this I take all of me to my job, to my colleagues and the patients I love and care for.

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