I have a nursing degree; some nursing specialty certifications, and heck I even have a master’s degree in management. What I don’t have is a degree in psychology, or a certification in counseling. I definitely don’t make the salary of a therapist. So how do I find myself, consistently, being approaching with… ‘I need to talk to you about something.’
Oh good lord here we go. Close the office door, make sure tissues are available, yes please have a seat on my couch.
It typically STARTS with something work related. ‘I was wondering…if I could take a day off next week.’ [The conversation COULD totally stop here! Yes, looks like we have PTO available. Yup – staffing looks good. Which day?] but no. This is where the long story starts.
Sometimes I’m hit with some personal tragedy, other times it’s to tell me something quite inappropriate about their marriage. A lot of times it’s just straight up complaining about first world problems. Then right when I’m thinking it’s time to cut this person off, tell them they don’t need to tell me these things, or let me refer them to our department that’s actually paid to listen to them – the tears start rolling. It’s probably not common courtesy to cut someone off when they are crying about a personal life issue, or letting you know their deep dark secret. Pass the tissues.
I would like to interject here that I do care about my people and want to be helpful and supportive. HOWEVER…these vent sessions, cry sessions, bitch sessions – whatever you want to call them….are emotionally exhausting. And they are very time consuming! I don’t want to sound harsh or uncaring but the fact is…I got shit to do! More on my plate than I can manage on a non-therapy day and these therapy session hold me up fer realz.
Do leaders in other industries face this? Nurses in particular do deal with a lot of stress, pulled in a million directions a day, dealing with unhappy patients and families, experiencing moral distress, death and dying, constantly doing more with less. I get that sometimes you just need to talk to someone. And if I’m the person that helps alleviate that stress and makes this person feel heard and supported – I will do it.
This being the case – that nurse managers will continue to provide therapy, empathy, and encouragement; I would like to make a proposal. Okay 2 proposals for my office. 1. stocked wine rack 2. therapy dog.