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Reality Unscripted
The "Perfect Enough" Nurse

All the patients love her.

She has beautiful handwriting. Her charting is always current. She is never behind on her own work and even helps out her coworkers. She easily communicates with the doctors. Her scrubs are starched and pressed. She never makes an error in judgment. Her clinical technique is flawless. She's liked by everyone--patients and co-workers. She even has time for a lunch.

Is she you?

If you're thinking yes, I've got some bad news for you. If you're thinking you might someday become her, more bad news. If you feel like you could work your tail off for the next 20 years and still never become the perfect nurse, you win the prize.

There are those nurses out there who we may think are Florence Nightingale--but even she wasn't perfect. I know lots of fabulous nurses, but not one of them is perfect. In fact, on one or two days in the last 25 years, I've even been a fabulous nurse (please don't ask for verification). But none of us gets it right all the time.

We all shine at times. We all have bad days we wish we could do over.

If every day we show up, try to be nice, pay attention to what we're doing, stay on task, are honest and do our best, we've done enough. Sometimes things will still go wrong. Sometimes we'll have PMS. Sometimes our scrubs will have spit up on them. Sometimes we'll have patients we don't like. We suck it up, put one foot in front of the other, and get through the day.

Try to do it with a smile on your face. When you get home hopefully you can look in the mirror and see the "perfect enough" nurse.

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8 Responses to “The “Perfect Enough” Nurse”

  1. Melissa Granger Says:

    What an encouragement that is! There will always be those days that we have mistakes and think of the what if’s. I had a medication error about a month ago, one that I thought I would never do as a nurse. I used to think as a student nurse only a irresponsible nurse would have an error like that. But mistakes happen, I am not perfect and I never will be. Mistakes happen as a reason to make us stronger nurses in the end.

    The best nurses in the world make mistakes!

  2. A Critical Care RN Says:

    It’s a very nice message. There are days when I feel like I really rocked it only to be reminded that I’m not perfect (or near perfect) on the next shift. Some days I’m right on, everything is caught up, I’m helping out, my scrubs need work but that’s a constant thing. Other days, I’m just happy to walk out two hours late and with one of my two patients alive. Such is nursing.

  3. A Senior Nursing Student Says:

    Lately I’ve been struggling with this very thing, thinking “you are never going to be good enough,” looking at all my near-perfect classmates who seem to know everything…and me…just trying to get everything done and help my patients. It’s good to realize that it’s OK to be the best you can be…and you don’t have to be as good as the A++ oddball. thanks.

  4. Tammy Says:

    How true it is, lol and I thought I “WAS” perfect. 😉

  5. lidsrn Says:

    That nurse really does exist. It’s not impossible. She was a magnificent perfect nurse just as described on the article. I know I’ll never become her, but I sure learned a lot from her…

  6. michelle Garrett Says:

    This is so true. I just finished a post about my trials and tribulations as a new grad. Will I ever get it right? The other day I almost had all my charting done on time and almost got through the day without too many mistakes. I just wanted to be able to say “nice try” — “you’re getting better” but in nursing it seems like close isn’t good enough. I wanted to be a nurse because I think its a very special and very important job. I hate to be cliche – but I wanted to do a job that I thought really makes a difference at the end of the day. It seems like there is so much to learn and that I have forgotten almost everything I learned in nursing school. I dont ever want to get so sure of myself that I am complacent about safety but i feel so lost. I wonder If I am going to make it.

  7. lyrnv Says:

    Oh, yes, you will make it. If you really, really want it. The days that everything falls apart will be fewer, and the days that you feel you just might survive will get closer together. Then you will have a day that allowed you to breathe. Then another. Pretty soon you will take nearly everything in stride. There will be moments that will throw you, throughout your career. There will be days that kick your *ss. And there will be moments that make you think, THIS is why I became a nurse! Those moments are why we all became nurses. Hang in there, we’re all pulling for you!

  8. selms312 Says:

    Just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the day, keeping your patients safe… makes you perfect enough in my opinion. alot of new grads are worried about overtime… my philosophy is this. I will do what is right by my patients, and the rest of the world will somehow have to live with that. fire me for overtime, complain that i’m putting too much weight on a small issue… but as long as my patient is safe, and where they should be at the end of my shift, i will be happy. and i have “won” that day.

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