I’m tired. My body seems to fail more than usual. Since I had my heart trouble, I get tired more easily than then ever. I’ve thought , “as long as I still have a strong mind, I’ll be fine.” But, what if that goes too?
So just in case… I turned in my resignation today! I filled out the papers, typed it up neatly, “two weeks from this date will be my last day as a nurse at this facility.” I even added a few other comments like… “how I enjoyed my work here,” and “Thank you for your guidance and support for the years… blah, blah.” Then I signed it and turned it in.
I did, however, leave the date blank. I had a talk with my manager about my dad, my last visit to Alabama and his mental status. I talked about my fears and what it means to come to the end of a nursing career.
Nursing is not like working in a factory. At the Ford company, the old, confused guy may still work and do just fine. If he messes up, maybe your passenger side window doesn’t roll up and down… no big deal. In Nursing, you’re dealing with people’s lives. If I mess up, I couldn’t live with myself. So I study, take continuing education classes, and monitor my practice. I exercise regularly and I take university (non-credit) classes to keep my mind sharp. Unfortunately, decline in mental health is a slow and insidious thing. I have seen what happens to good nurses who slide into dementia and incompetence. My greatest fear is, with a really slow progression, how will you ever know? To you, in your own mind, everything is perfectly normal. Do you have to wait until something bad happens to get the realization? How do you know if your sliding and your practice suffers? In my new found paranoia, I’ve asked to have frequent reviews. I’ve asked for a peer review to support the manager’s evaluations.
I’ve seen nurses on the in-patient side whose practice has suffered. The charge nurse no longer assigns them a room. Instead, the charge nurse is creative at finding make-work. They are stuck at doing chart audits, giving flu shots, or setting up rooms. Sometimes they are simply sitting in the lounge watching TV as the “trauma-back-up nurse.” I couldn’t bear this, or even having anyone worry about my potential danger to a patient. So to keep this from ever happening to me… I quit.
I will leave the decision to my manager. It could be tomorrow or it could be in another ten years… I don’t know. I guess I’ll never know. But, If anyone ever thinks that I might be slipping, I trust my manager to simply call me or send me an e-mail and say, “Hey John, I signed your resignation today. You really don’t have to come to work tomorrow. Take a trip and have fun!” No drama, no regrets. No pot luck, no hard feelings… Just a happy end to a long and happy career.