I am eating too much cake

November 2016   Comments

Several of my colleagues have decided to retire from active nursing roles and along with that, there always seems to be a tea party with cake. The party also generates reflections on the depth and breadth of the career of those registered nurses who are entering into the adventure of retirement.

Recently, I had the chance to wish a happy retirement to two RNs I had worked with for several years. A public health nurse in a rural community, Pat for many years was the only nurse for well-baby clinics, postpartum visits, immunization, school health and anything else that happened in the community related to health promotion. Linda had worked with me in a community hospital. We covered OR and obstetrical on call together for about 20 years. We won the award for the most consecutive C-sections in one night! I am the registered nurse I am today because my path has intersected with those who have gone before me and those who walk alongside me.

Pat and Linda have travelling, spending time with their grandchildren, volunteering, hiking, riding horses and doing whatever comes next in their future, but they will always be nurses to their families, friends and communities. I wished these colleagues well in the next leg of their journey and I asked them to reflect on how many patients, families and other RNs they have had the opportunity to influence over the course of their careers. That’s when the watery eyes started. The impact of their work was emotional and far reaching. As we all know, the difference RNs make over the course of their careers touches so many people in such important and meaningful ways; it’s heartwarming.

The celebration of the influence and perseverance of RNs who have travelled a long road of career successes and disappointments is important, but it needs to be balanced with the celebration of those who are still travelling their career path. We need to support those at the beginning of their journey and encourage them so they can get to the tea party at the end. Those of us who see the finish line in the next decade or so need the same encouragement to keep moving forward. While contributing to society is extraordinary, so too is supporting each other.

Barb Shellian, RN, BN, MN

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