So, in an attempt to get us all on the same page, I thought it might be helpful to let you in on my history. I grew up in Southern California, and my parents divorced when I was young. Dinner table conversations consisted of my father's comments about the "VSD that we couldn't get off bypass," the "20-gauge scalp line in the premie," and the "FLK's circ done under general". I remember wishing that I understood what he was talking about...I wanted so badly for him to share with me, but how does one explain these things to an 8-year-old?
In high school, I decided that I wanted to save the world. Not with nursing, no, that came later-- I wanted to be an environmental scientist, and I wanted to specialize in the destruction of the world's oceans. I got SCUBA certified and started college at an extraordinarily granola university, and the further that I got in the program, the less convinced I was. I considered law school, but my oldest sister's less than exuberant anecdotes about life as a 1L really didn't suit me.
I bounced around a little bit and finally, in the fall of my junior year, narrowed the field down to 'something medical'. I studied human physiology, struggled through anatomy (I was somehow unaware that my first anatomy lab was with cadavers), and hit my stride. I graduated and moved to the big city. I was hired out of, I'm sure, good faith alone, as an inpatient phlebotomist.
Make no mistake, phlebotomy is much more than just a skill. Running from room to room at 3:30 in the morning; waking people from a dead sleep; narrowly escaping vomit, spit, urine, and fists; attempting to maintain control, speed, grace, and accuracy-- all while keeping in mind the looming bloodborne pathogen risk. Perhaps this sounds simple to you, but for me (as unexperienced as I was), it was a challenge to say the least.
I heard from both the sweetest and the most hateful of patients in my year of drawing blood. I gained a sense of humility that many of my coworkers had either lost through time or never had to begin with. Yes, I learned to draw blood. But I also learned that I like the way it feels to walk out of work and struggle to get up the stairs of the parking lot, but do it anyway. I learned that even after 10,000 successful draws, I will still miss from time to time. I learned that, despite all the swearing I do in traffic, I actually do care about my fellow human being. And today, in the third of five terms in nursing school, I use what I've learned.