When I started my career in my early 20s, I knew that I was in for a fulfilling career journey. 40 years later, I was ready for my retirement. I knew this day would come, so I started saving for it early on in my career. Five years ago, at the age of 62, the day that I had always anticipated finally came. I bade goodbye to a career that I had dedicated my best years to. The late nights and long shifts were finally over and I was ready to face the rest of my life. Retirement has been good for me: I have had enough time to spend with my family, do charity work, travel and so much more. However, reflecting back on my years as a nurse, these are the four things that I miss the most.
1. Patient care
The biggest reason that I wanted to become a nurse was to care for patients. I saw it as a way of giving back to people who were in need of my services. It is the reason why I took my training very seriously. I remember with nostalgia learning how to be a professional in nursing. Or the time when I was studying and sometimes understanding terms would be difficult. I remember how I would be looking at guides and definitions similar to the resources by Osmosis that I recently found out about online. But I always had a goal in mind, and that kept me going. Moreover, I can say that throughout my career, I have exercised professionalism in nursing when caring for the patients that I came across. Nothing beats nursing patients with respect, compassion, and empathy until they get back on their feet. I was also very passionate about upholding the rights of patients when in the hospital. I took to myself to see that patients’ care was in their best interests at all times. I miss seeing their happy faces and those of their family members as they left the hospital.
2. The patients
Besides being there as my patients’ caregivers, I so often became a friend and a shoulder to cry on. I have had the privilege of witnessing critical moments in patients’ lives. The years that I worked in the maternity wing gave me an opportunity to see families welcome their newborns. Unfortunately, I also saw others lose their babies even before they started life. Nevertheless, those are moments I look back with nostalgia. I spent most of my time talking with patients and their families. I would spend countless hours by their bedside talking and laughing as they waited for their loved ones to come and visit. For those who didn’t have anyone, I remain grateful that I was there. Then there were cases when I had to take care of little kids, wash them, and feed them. It made me feel motherly emotions even though I had no blood relation to any of those kids. Sometimes I randomly remember some of the children who would like to eat their tasty sugar-free vitamins and ask me for more. I still can remember their happy faces.
3. The camaraderie
The success of patient care in hospitals relies mostly on the teamwork of doctors, nurses, surgeons, and lab techs among other staff. I was advantaged to work alongside very good people throughout my years as a nurse. We learned how best to work together and with one another for the best productivity. When new members joined the team, everyone was eager to show them around and even mentor the young medics. As we spent time together, we learned about each other’s personal lives, we told endless childhood stories, and were there for each other in both good and bad times. While not everyone became my best friend, I miss how we were as a team. I miss the things we used to do together, the spirit that I probably will never be able to replicate with friends outside the nursing profession.
4. The intellectual stimulation
Throughout my training to become a nurse, it was clear that there was no day for ordinary patients and illnesses. I saw complex cases checked in the hospitals that I worked for every single day. Oftentimes we didn’t have all the answers. I saw everyone on the team dig deep in their knowledge in a bid to solve such cases. What I miss most in those situations is standing up to those challenges. I miss the intellectual stimulation that came with it and finally finding the right solutions to patients’ care. Regarding the clinic’s needs, sometimes we would have to work with freelance science writers who would write informative writing pieces for the clients. I learned a lot from their experience as well.
5. Giving back to the society
Nurses have a critical duty when it comes to caring for the community around them. I remember being in the frontline sensitizing the people on the best measures when it came to outbreaks. I also loved it when we went out there for medical camps, or to educate people on various illnesses as well as how to prevent them. I still do a lot of giving back in my retirement years by offering my knowledge as a nurse. However, it is nothing compared to when I was active in the profession.
As I look back to my years as a nurse, I can only be grateful that I lived my childhood dream. Now that I have retired, I miss the profession that gave me so much satisfaction. I miss the joys of being there for patients as a caregiver and friend. I miss the teamwork and the challenges that came with the profession. Though I still give back, I miss the days that we did it with fellow colleagues.