A nurse in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Cleveland Clinic, Jorden Rieke, BSN, RN, explains her enthusiasm for not only the nursing profession, but for continued learning.
One of the most incredible aspects of the nursing profession is its endless supply of opportunities to learn and to grow. Even having worked as a nurse for only a year and a half in a single unit, I have learned that opportunity comes when you ask and when you say yes. When a mass flier is emailed out for a multi-day evidence-based practice course, I ask to attend. When a need for quality improvement arises on my unit, I work hard to understand the process and develop a project. When a research shared-governance position is left vacant, I fill it. When I’m asked to be a panel member at local and state conferences, I enthusiastically oblige. The amount of learning that has taken place in less than two years by simply absorbing knowledge from colleagues and taking advantage of workshops, courses, institutional processes, and conferences is astounding.
Part of learning though, is not just about acquiring more information, but also about expanding ways of thinking—it is about fostering empathy. I have gained an immense amount of understanding that translates into being a productive professional and an empathetic nurse by simply choosing to read books on my own time about topics and life experiences that are unfamiliar or underdeveloped in me. The key messages I glean from every book are entered into a spreadsheet, which has gained entries of reflection for 38 books in the last 22 months about everything from emotional intelligence, leadership, business, race, habit formation, and nursing policy, to works of fiction that explore concepts of death, love, humanity, identity, and happiness. That process is a methodical and purposeful effort to expand thinking and empathy in myself, which when combined with the aforementioned professional opportunities, serves as a wonderful foundation while pursuing a career in research and education.