By Nancy Berger, MS, RN, NE-BC, LFACHE
In my role as director of perioperative services at New York University Langone Medical Center Hospital for Joint Diseases, I averaged five scheduled and four-to-five unscheduled daily meetings, collaborated with medical staff, and partnered with managers and nursing administration on Magnet-required projects amid a major transition to a new electronic documentation system and two major constructions.
The days were long and demanding, and I enjoyed every one of them.
But after developing severe chronic lymphotic leukemia, I became exhausted just commuting daily to downtown Manhattan. So the issue arose — was I financially prepared to retire and could I live comfortably for the remainder of my life?
The sickness and complications prevailed and I retired. It was a very sad day for me to leave what I loved the most. But my experiences, I believe, can help young nurses who are just beginning their journeys.
Take a step back every so often and think of the lives you care for, the unforgettable experiences you have and the friendships you make while practicing in a most rewarding profession.
Also, find a way to work with academic medical centers, which often provide unique and complicated challenges and opportunities. In the AMC environment, you can collaborate with multidisciplinary teams and participate in research. One of my best experiences in this environment was gaining Magnet certification. Nearly all the perioperative nursing staff had BSNs and almost 40% were certified. We had three published nursing research projects and five quality-improvement projects, two of which were published in nursing journals.
Today, I am in total remission, thanks to my oncologist and primary physician. The decisions I make are simple compared with those I made as an RN. They involve shopping, babysitting grandchildren and planning trips. I am enjoying every day as it comes and have adopted the philosophy of living one day at a time.
God bless each one of you, and pray for the strength and the conviction to move on with your career and face your retirement, when that time comes, happily, knowing you have worked in one of the greatest professions.
Nancy Berger, MS, RN, NE-BC, LFACHE, is the former director of perioperative services for the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. She retired in January 2013 and lives in Easton, Pa.
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