Learning to Observe, Observing to Learn

Street Art, unknown artist. photo: jparadisi

Here’s a collection of loose observations I made last week:

  • People who lie or cheat believe that everyone else in the world does too.
  • People who feel paralyzing guilt over a mistake they made believe they are the only one in the world who’s made one.
  • Nursing students and new grads still believe in patient centered care and patient advocacy (Thanks Nurse2be for writing about one of my posts. I feel relevant).
  • Precepting is an opportunity to develop a colleague I love to work with.
  • I am a preceptor even when I don’t have an orientee. What do I teach coworkers about nursing culture through my nursing practice and behavior?
  • A patient and I commiserated over frustrations with health care. I said, “I’d like to change it, but they won’t let me be queen.” He touched the ring on my left hand under the nitrile glove I wore, and said, “You have this ring; you’re somebody’s queen.”
  • Nursing is my profession, but it does not define my entire life. Good shifts, bad shifts, when I leave the clinic I return to the life I create.
  • It’s all about choices.

The Boxer, a Nurse, and an Artist


study detail for painting. JParadisi 2010

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade, 

and he carries the reminder of ev’ry glove that laid him down or cut him 

till he cried out in his anger and his shame, 

I am leaving, I am leaving, 

but the fighter still remains. 

                                                                           The Boxer    by Paul Simon 


     The other day I came home from work and went directly to bed. It was 6 o’clock in the evening. I’d had it. Worn out.  Didn’t want to see or talk to another person for the rest of the night.  It had nothing to do with my patients.  To me, patient care is the easiest part of nursing. It’s all the other stuff that sometimes wears me down. 

     Still, I continue to grow my  nursing skill and knowledge. If I’m going to spend so much time a day, a week, a year, an entire career doing anything, I may as well be good at it. Why would a person spend twenty or thirty years doing something she isn’t happy doing? For the money? Few things in life pay that well. If I hated nursing, I would continue to do it long enough to finance retraining in another profession, then quit. 

     I read an article asking readers, when did they fall in love with art? I don’t think I ever fell in love with art. I remember falling in love with the red and blue crayons I held in my two-year-old hands as I drew a double line around the white walls of my newborn brother’s nursery. I remember looking at the plain, white walls and being consumed by the desire to make a mark on them. I am not in love with art the way collectors are, but I am obsessive about making it. 

    In the same way, I’m not sure that I’m in love with nursing,  but I am in love with using my skills to help others. Everyday I go home from work, I leave knowing that despite a frustration or two, or disagreeing with a colleague, I did something that directly improved the life of another human being.  Perhaps I’m sentimental, a character flaw with negative connotations in both art and in nursing these days, but I like possessing skills that the average person doesn’t have and seeing the result of their use improving the plight of another human being. I like to think that making a piece of art which expresses a clear thought to another person also helps humanity, and so I keep returning to the studio as well, despite the frustrations that accompany the life of an artist. 

     The fighter still remains.