Back in the day when nurses were known for eating their young I got my first job as a nurse. This was after a long, successful career as a school teacher among colleagues who supported each other. The Med-Surg unit I was assigned to was staffed by a very close knit (clique) of young nurses. I was definitely not clique material and I needed help clinically. To put it mildly mentoring was not their strong suit and although not young, I came to understand what was meant by “eating their young.” I began to think maybe I had made a poor career choice and perhaps should return to teaching. And then I got assigned to work on nights with a different crew. I was about to head off with the linen cart to start my rounds and complete my many assigned tasks when one of the nurses said to me “Where are you going? You don’t need to do that alone,” and added that on this shift, “we all work together.” I will never forget those words. I learned, I improved clinically, I gained confidence – I thrived. And, I made a decision that I would never hoard knowledge to keep others out, and would mentor as I had been mentored. I have never wavered and it has made me a better nurse. I doubt that those nurses on the night shift ever knew that it was because of them and their mentorship that I remained in nursing. One take-away is that each of us has the power to make a difference in the life of a new nurse -it is a gift that should never be taken lightly. I will always be grateful to those night shift nurses and to the operating room nurses who helped me move from novice to expert.
Find out more about Cynthia and her experience in perioperative nursing as she presents, “Cleaning and Care of Surgical Instruments: A shared responsibility” at the 2017 OR Today Live conference being held August 27-29 in Washington, D.C.