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Beginnings

I want to remember this.

In six weeks, I graduate from nursing school. I learned the fundamentals. I learned the requisite skills. I learned the “why” and the “should.”

I also learned about self-care. Actually, I learned a lot about it. Insomuch that my classmates and I were sick of hearing of it. We heard it so many times. 

My classmates have been an inspiration for me. Our passion and collective drive are astounding. We are invigorated. We are excited. We want to help.

Throughout all of this, a haunting uncertainty preoccupies me. It woke me up this morning. I hear in the distance: a steady din just outside recognition.

And I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of meeting the reality of nursing. I’m afraid of coming face-to-face with the unspoken challenges of this profession that I have coveted and dreamed about for years. 

I’m afraid of leaving the realm of what nursing “should be” and entering the realm of what nursing “is.”

Social media overflows with memes of the harsh and cynical reality of nursing. They provide humorous juxtapositions of extremes. Humor aside, with the pandemic’s lasting impact, we are beginning to hear rumblings of nurses leaving the bedside. Of compassion fatigue. Of burnout. 

My cohorts and I are beginning to apply to our first nursing jobs, and our excitement is palpable. We are anxious and ready to help. We finally get to be nurses.

But I wonder how many of us will leave the bedside in just a few years. I wonder how many of us will leaving nursing all together.

We are about to step through the looking glass. We are about to leave the safety of academic halls to the unknown of bedside nursing. As we meet the formidable challenges of nursing’s reality, my deepest hope is that we retain the knowledge and passion for this profession we chose. I hope that we keep this close and dear as a reminder of why we began.

I want to remember this.

Anthony L. Epps
Seattle, Washington