Hangin’ up the Scrubs




Usually once in our lives we tackle something we think is a good plan but doesn’t always work out that way. Many have gone off to college with great aspirations only to change their major part way through because the hill got too steep. Maybe it was cost or years it would take to reach the goal, but in the end, each decision was usually made by the person who has to live with the outcome.
I started out of high school working in automotive mechanics, which was a field I still have an interest in and would probably have pursued it further in my youth, but I was persuaded constantly by my parents to take an industrial job because it was a “good choice.” Granted, it paid well and had good benefits. I worked at it for nearly four decades before finally calling it quits. Once the company kept floating rumors of killing off the pension plan, I decided to run while I could.
The time since the 2015 retirement has been fraught with searching for a place to fit. The stark reality is that industrial work offers little in viable experience for any other field so you begin to search for what you can do versus what you want to do (Rarely do you find both)
After several years in sales, which I got pretty good at, it was brought to my attention to look in the medical field. This was an area I never truly considered since schooling is long and expensive, not to mention it takes a certain breed of personality to take on the job. After discovering Nurse Aide training was only six weeks, this looked like a viable option with future possibilities like better pay (sort of) more schedule flexibility and recession proof security. All of those options sound like very good reasons, and they are, but there has to be something more, something deep inside.
I was told early on, if you do it for the money or the hours, you aren’t doing it for the right reasons. I misplaced my familiarity via my family members who work in the field and my parents being hospitalized frequently as enough interest to carry me through. I was certain education and skills training would properly equip me with whatever else I was missing. Not so.
We often hear of police and firefighters referred to as heroes. They are, without a doubt, because on any given day they might risk their own life to save another. Once again, it takes a special breed to do those jobs and do them well. You don’t have to look far at those training centers to find those who tried but fell short of the goal. Some due to physical shortcomings and some lacked the mindset.
I have always had respect for those in the nursing field, but that level has recently been shot into orbit. In my short foray, I came in contact with people of phenomenal skill and ability, but most of all, they have heart and resilience beyond measure. They might be thought of as heroes by some but to me they now look superhuman. The ability to juggle tremendous responsibility is only one power they possess, but to watch them be attentive and compassionate to others in the worst shape of their lives is something special. To maintain that demeanor in the face of abrasive verbal abuse and soldier on is amazing, but above all else, their ability to function under the most emotional circumstances is a power that leaves me in awe. This is where I fell down.
I passed my classes, learned my skills, survived my clinicals and got my certification. Despite some rough spots of self-doubt I felt actually being in a high quality facility would be where I could thrive. My skills didn’t fail me but my heart certainly did. Maybe other nurses or aides experience similar emotional wounds. I know for certain the first experience of death or intense emergency takes a serious toll. Maybe its the end for some, maybe others cry for three minutes, wipe their eyes and say, “What’s next?” Maybe some have the fortitude to draw a deep breath, reboot, walk into the next room and start like nothing else happened. This was the kind of power I witnessed firsthand and to see it in action is nothing short of astonishing.
While I have made peace with the fact this wont be my field going forward, I don’t by any means consider it a waste of time. I’ve had job assignments that were horribly dangerous, ones that put my life at risk had things gone wrong, but none of them carried the education and experience of the past few months. NONE showcased the extraordinary capabilities of a staff of nurses like the twelve hours I spent on that unit. From tender care one moment to lifesaving action the next, those women rival any heroic act I’ve ever seen. I might stand head and shoulders above them in physical height, but I am small in the shadow of their gigantic capabilities.
Television and film dramatize doctors everyday and they are indeed incredibly skilled individuals, but the nurses are the front line soldier, every day, around the clock and if that isn’t hero status I don’t know what is. An angel in scrubs? That’s only one little part of the power they possess. They are far more than I will ever be, and for that I am forever in their debt.
T. August Green