Notes to My Younger (Nurse) Self

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Josephine Ensign/ foot care at Cross-Over Clinic, Fall 1986, from Freedom House brochure.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a journalist for the career advice blog site, Glassdoor. The interview was published as “11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Nurse” (by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer, August 31, 2016). Here are some of my favorite parts of this interview as interpreted and written by Meyer:

“I wish I knew how crazy the healthcare system is. I was young and idealistic. But maybe if I would have known I wouldn’t have chosen this path,” Dr. Ensign says, laughing.

While Dr. Ensign initially had “no intention of teaching,” she’s mostly impressed with her students who she refers to as “change agents.” She even found herself in a former student’s care during an unexpected trip to the ER, the ultimate test of trust for a medical educator and an experience she wrote about in her essay “Medical Maze.” Dr. Ensign expresses optimism about her students’ role in the future of medicine, but also concern for them in a challenging industry. She says, “In school students get a vision of utopia, but they don’t get enough support for how to deal with it when they run into barriers-how to stay true to themselves.”

Notes to my current (Nurse educator) self:

Continue to figure out ways to ‘teach fearlessly’ (upcoming blog post, stay tuned), to improve nursing education away from the production of “functional doers” towards the nurturing of “change agents.” (See previous blog post, “Undoing Nurses as Functional Doers” November 24, 2010.) 

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