- Posted by Emma Walsh
- On 5th December 2018
- 0 Comments
- dublin, dublin hospital, general nursing, hospital, ireland, mater private hospital, medical, medicine, nursing
Mistakes, errors, slip-ups, accidents. Take your pick, they all mean basically the same thing… it’s just some of them sound less harsh than others. Some sound serious, while others sound mild. Either way, they’re not words you want to have to use very often, if at all. As a member of the medical profession, you understand that it is your duty to ‘first, do no harm’. But, the reality is, during your life and during your nursing career, you will make mistakes. You’ll make some errors too… you’ll even have the occasional slip-up and we can guarantee there’ll be an accident or three in there somewhere… all for good measure.
But before you go scooting off to obliterate the career trajectory you’ve committed literal blood, sweat and tears to for the last decade, just take a minute, catch your breath and try to remain calm.
Most people go through their lives trying to control, or minimise the number of mistakes they make. From an early age, we are hardwired to believe that doing something ‘wrong’ is a bad thing. And while useful when teaching children right from wrong from the perspective of moral education, beyond this, making mistakes – genuine errors in judgement – is a very natural thing, and should be considered an important part of learning and experiencing the world around us. Where our careers are concerned, making mistakes is part and parcel of perfecting our craft. But these lessons are often forgotten, or glossed over, as the bigger picture gets in the way. How many points do you need for this course, where do you rank against the rest of the class, what are all of the steps you need to take to ensure a 100% success rate?
Where is the room for failure? Well, in this ceaseless, mercilessly competitive world, there is none. Or so we’re led to believe.
You’re a good nurse, right? You might go as far as saying you’re a great nurse. An excellent care provider. Vaccine bestower extraordinaire. A bit of a perfectionist. All of these things are true. And yes, self-belief is one of the most important things you could possess while navigating this weird and wonderful career. But staying on the right side of your ego is equally essential, and that requires a delicate, crucial balance. You need to be confident, calm and capable, but you also need to accept that sometimes, things will go wrong. Sometimes, other people will make a mistake and it will be up to you to fix it. Other times, people will blame you for something that had nothing to do with you. And occasionally, something will happen that will be absolutely, certainly, unequivocally, one hundred per cent your fault.
Squirming? Need to take a break from reading? Face-palming at your desk remembering the last thing that happened that kind of seemed like your fault, but you were too scared to dwell on after everything was fixed? That feeling you’re feeling right now – that uncomfortable protest bubbling and grumbling away in the pit of your tummy – that’s the feeling you need to confront, address, welcome, and work on. When channeled correctly, fear pushes you. It makes you stronger, it makes you better, and it makes you thrive. In healthy doses, fear is necessary. It allows us to come face to face with ourselves and it allows us to grow. Accepting it becomes the first step towards overcoming it – and accepting that things can go wrong, even when we’ve done everything right, is the first step towards progress.
Mistakes happen. They are scary, and they vary in size. They are real, they happen and they don’t go away until you look them right in the eye and vow, no matter what, to learn from them…and then give yourself a break. The bad ones? They’re few and far between. Because no matter what happens, you have a network – a family of administrators, physicians, nurses, consultants, senior staff, ward managers and healthcare assistants who are there to help you, to work with you to ensure you are equipped to do the best work possible, while being there, day and night to catch you when you fall. So take that breath, work hard and keep going – you’re only human, remember.