PACU Staff Nurse New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell
When I was in college, I didn’t have a career goal until my friend from the army convinced me to go into nursing. The only few things I knew at the time about nursing was the salary and the work schedule. I didn’t even know the job details. I thought of nursing as just a means to fuel my dreams to travel the world. During nursing school, I had an externship at Beth Israel’s SICU; my preceptor, Richard, helped immerse me into the field and shared his knowledge, and during that experience, I knew that nursing was for me.
My experience includes homecare, medical-surgical, Cardiac ICU (CCU), and now, PACU in Cornell. A few months ago, I quit the CCU to go on an extended journey across the globe. I explored cultures in parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Despite culture shock and language barriers; I realized that everybody was so kind, willing to share their culture and vantage points, and eager to learn about my mine.
I had a realization. Why is it harder to talk to people and get to know them in NYC? Our society is so fast paced, we’re so goal-oriented, always trying to get from Point A to Point B and so on. We barely have time to slow down. Sometimes, we’re so busy in our personal and professional lives, we may not take the time to learn other people’s stories, appreciate the things we have, or the people that help us.
Housekeeping. Radiology and EKG Technician. Transport. Nutritionists. Food Service. Physical, Occupational, and Respiratory Therapy. Phlebotomy. Social Work. Nurse Aide. Security. Engineering. Clerk. Pharmacist.
We normally see hospital workers of these listed professions every day. The unsung heroes. Our coworkers. Our work family.
About two years ago, while on a night shift, one of my coworkers from housekeeping told me, “You know why I like you? Because you’re the only one in here that makes me feel like a human being.” I was confused. I never really had a real conversation with her because I was so busy at work all the time. I asked her why she felt that way, and she responded, “You always smile, say hi, and thank me every day”. When she told me this, I couldn’t even feel appreciative, it was so sad, that I could only hug her and say sorry.
I learned a few things that night. It only takes two seconds to make someone’s day by saying ‘Hi’ and ‘Thanks’. And, many times, patients, management, and coworkers do not recognize our other counterparts. We are all like pieces of a watch, there are so many parts working together, and if one part is malfunctioning, then the whole thing does not work. Nurses and doctors get most of the acknowledgement; our counterparts should get just as much credit. Non-engagement, and dis-engagement in the workplace can be prevented by feelings of appreciation.
One of the most important pieces of advice I always tell my preceptees, new graduates and nursing students; no matter how stressful work gets, smile a lot, greet everyone, and thank them for everything they do. It will take you a long way because everybody will be quick to help you; and it will make your other coworkers feel good about the hard work they put in.