Who I am and why I'm here:
I am human. I am cisgender. I am a wife and a mother to two amazing autistic children whom are my greatest joy and biggest challenge. I am autistic and I have major depression. I was suicidal with a plan at the age of 10 and throughout my life at different times- and I'm still here.
I am a nurse - I am a Nurse in the Emergency Department (ED/ER) and a hospice nurse. I was an ER tech, a flight medic, a paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician. I have been challenged by and grown in every aspect of my life and career that you can imagine. I worked in a busy ED through Sars-CoV-2 pandemic and experienced far too much. I have held weeping spouses, witnessed the miracle of birth and the tragedy of dying children. I have been the only person at someone's side while they took their last breath because they were utterly alone. I have spent hours lying awake in bed wondering if I did enough, did the right thing, said the right words. I've berated myself for being unaware of a situation because I didn't see all the "obvious" signs. I've questioned my choice of career countless times.
I am a teacher - I teach nursing students, new grad nurses, new hires and travelers at my workplace, I teach patients and families and caregivers of my patients. I teach my children and my friends' children. I teach my friends and my family.
I am human. I am generous, loving and kind. I see people where they are and try to understand their perspective is different than mine - even if they have experiences similar to mine. I meet people where they are and hold space for them there. I encourage people to do better at life while supporting them where they exist.
Every path my life has taken has led me here - to try and provide some education, insight, or help to nursing students who are where I used to be. I have learned the importance of self-care the hard way - from watching myself and my coworkers run ourselves ragged in the name of caring for patients. What happened wasn't what you'd think - there were no expressions of gratitude for giving of ourselves until we were dry as a bone; there was no rest or "you've done a great job, now take a break!" No.
We had more needs to be met, more demands on our time and more drains to our energy. **Hint: in a career where needs are met 24/7, there will always be "just one more shift" to pick up.** There were accusations from the patients of not doing enough and of not caring at all. There were expectations from managers to do more, to work harder, and to pick up more shifts... and it broke us - collectively and individually. Personally and professionally - I struggled to remember why I was a nurse. I struggled to care for my family. I had nothing left because I hadn't been taking care of myself. My boundaries were not set.
I was responsible - not for the actions of others, but for my own irresponsibility in not taking care of myself. I was so focused on taking care of others, I forgot about myself. It didn't do anything good - it made me bitter and angry and resentful. I suffered. The patients suffered. I was so burnt out, I didn't have anything left to give and when it was required I resented those who required it. This is why I'm here. I never "bought in" to those occasional statements of practicing self-care. It wasn't for me because all they ever said was to sleep well, eat right, and exercise. When you're working nightshift, in school full time and working, and have children, those methods don't work so well or are not as available as one would hope or need.
I'm here to say it's still important to take care of yourself, AND that it looks different for everyone.
I'm here to teach not only how important it is, but how it can look for you to take care of yourself.
You must take care of yourself or nobody else will.
I'd like to give a big thank you to those who made this project possible:
Michael Lynn - My husband and homemaker extraordinaire who has taken over more than his share of household duties allowing me to focus on schoolwork and this passion project of mine.
Vanessa Depuente, my role model, preceptor, and always encourager
UW Bothell MN professors:
Dr. Jamie Shirley, my scholarly chairperson, editor and supporter
Dr. Kosuke Niitsu, 591 professor and guide
Dr. Eric Anderson, first professor at UW Bothell and continued mentor throughout the program
All my UW Bothell MN cohort classmates, but especially those who spent extra time and effort providing feedback on content, design, and process throughout the program:
Everett Community College Nursing Department for allowing me to work with them for my fieldwork and capstone project.
Tiffany Swedeen - a colleague who sees the importance of this and has been working at it longer than I have and provided direction and information to be shared here.
Katie Rath - my friend and confidant with an outside perspective when things were too confusing in my head and I couldn't find my around them.