MAY, 2015
Edie Brous
Nurse Attorney
118 East 28th Street
Room 404
New York, NY 10016
Tel. (212) 989-5469
Fax. (646) 349-5355
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I was startled when my closest friend from nursing school, Lynne Behrens, posted that she was retiring. How is this possible since we just graduated yesterday? Well, by yesterday I mean 1976. That wasn’t yesterday at all. But it is simply impossible that it was 39 years ago. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my grandmother, Muna, when I was nine years old. I was very unhappy that everyone else had two numbers in their age and I just had one. I wanted to be ten so I could have two numbers like everyone else. She told me to not be in such a hurry for my next birthday because, “The older you get, the faster it goes.” I had no idea what Muna meant at the time.

When I turned 50, I spoke to my father about that conversation & told him that, although I didn’t understand her at the time, now that I was turning 50 I got it. Where had the time gone? I was just twelve & now I was 50. Muna was right that the older you get the faster it goes. He agreed & said, “And when you get to my age, the day before yesterday was three weeks ago.”

It made me think about all the changes we have seen in nursing since I was a student nurse. I was at the tail-end of our still wearing caps and white uniforms. We used glass IV bottles & resterilized syringes. We used paper medical records and Kardexes. Bipolar disease was called manic depression. ADHD was called hyperactivity. There were no computers. If my best friend retired there was no Facebook to post it on. We were evaluated on the basis of our clinical performance, not Press Ganey scores or Walt Disney metrics.

Today’s nursing students have a very different experience – online programs, simulation labs, social media. Some of the human to human interaction skills necessary for practice are missing in the curriculum. Today’s new nurses also have a very different experience in entering practice. Pressure is on maintaining compliance with corporate profit measures instead of patient care. Health care has changed in many ways and not all for the better.

What has not changed is the critical role nurses play in keeping patients safe. Nurses are the 24/7/365. Nurses are the safety net. Nurses are the ones anticipating and monitoring for foreseeable complications. Nurses remain the patient’s lifeline to the rest of an increasingly impersonal system. The interpersonal connection between health care providers and patients has become more difficult to create and maintain. Nursing’s role in that fundamental component of health care is more essential than ever.

As my best friend enters retirement I hope those core values of the profession were effectively passed to our new nurses. My cohort is now passing the torch to the next generation. It went fast. My grandmother was right – the older you get, the faster it goes. And my father was right – the day before yesterday was 3 weeks ago.

Happy Nurses Week! And happy retirement Lynne.
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Copyright © 2015, Edie Brous, RN, Esq.