I am TNA.
Subject: Nurses (Beliefs, opinions and attitudes)
Nurses (Social aspects)
Medical societies (Officials and employees)
Author: Young, Somer
Pub Date: 03/22/2012
Publication: Name: Tennessee Nurse Publisher: Tennessee Nurses Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Tennessee Nurses Association ISSN: 1055-3134
Issue: Date: Spring, 2012 Source Volume: 75 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 540 Executive changes & profiles
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses; 8622000 Medical Associations NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners; 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 283984735
Full Text: Surprised is an understatement of my reaction when asked to write an "I am TNA" article. As I heard myself excitedly accepting the challenge, all that was going through my mind was "But am I TNA?" I have read enough of the articles to realize I had just gotten in over my head. This is considering all those I've read were written by successful experienced nurses, with most listing extra letters after their names. Plus, the articles usually detail the writer's contributions to nursing and how TNA aided in the process. Well, I am a 23-year-old new graduate with only eight months under my belt. Therefore, and as I am reminded quite frequently, I am a young new nurse with hardly any professional experience.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Feeling overwhelmed and out of my element are not novel feelings; I am a new nurse after all. However, to say I have grown comfortable with the nauseating butterflies that come hand in hand with a mild stutter, is an overstatement. I still find myself wondering "What have I gotten myself into?" on a near daily basis. Yet, despite spending most of my time since graduation delving into varying degrees of confusion and inadequacy, I can't say I would do much differently. All new nurses face daunting challenges that they must overcome to survive within the profession. I am no different in this aspect. My path diverges when one takes into account the relativity of survival. In most cases, survival means to endure adverse circumstances. I did not choose nursing to simply endure or bear the hardships of the profession. I chose nursing to advocate for my patients, my profession and myself. It is this distinction that has driven me to persevere past the point of mere survival and into awe-inspiring circumstances.

As new graduate, I have accomplished things I never dreamed for my nursing career. I have traveled the country representing the Tennessee Association of Student Nurses as President. I have shared a stage with the Governor, State Health Commissioner and Presidents of TNA and ANA, speaking to over a thousand of my peers. I have had an article published in every issue of the Tennessee Nurse for the past year. Through these experiences, I have learned and progressed more than one can imagine, but all this comes second to the interactions and responses I have had with fellow nurses.

I have met some of the most influential nurses in the country, and before I could compliment their many inspiring accomplishments, they were complimenting me and offering support to this measly new nurse. This happened more times than I can accurately recall and always left me wondering, "Well, maybe I kept my nervous stutter in check" or "they probably remember the self doubt that comes with being a new nurse." Either way, it always ends with me thinking, "I bet they are just being nice." Then to my amazement, they would mention something specific I had said or written and force me to accept sincerity. I know this likely sounds inconsiderate. Yet we all know, the nursing culture can portray itself in a manner that is anything but sincere.

I learned this quickly, as it did not take long to understand that being young with big ideas can lead to being painted as a potential target. I have heard the words "Somer you are a new nurse ..." more times than I like to admit. Yet, it would not be so bad if these words weren't usually followed by an explanation about how I will eventually find my way in nursing, and only then will I understand why things are done as they are. Most of the time I wish I could nod my head and go along--seeing as how it would probably make my life easier. In spite of knowing this, I will most likely always say or ask things that others find contentious.

My problem in this arena may be in the assumption that all nurses share a desire to understand their environment. While in school, curiosity is encouraged and supported, as sating one's curiosity usually leads to improved comprehension. Unfortunately, despite an analytically based foundation, for many nurses it does not take long for complacency to blanket curiosity. I am not completely sure why this is, but after hearing "Somer you are a new nurse ..." over and over again, I have a better idea. I believe many nurses are forced into complacency due to disillusionment and patterns of disappointment. We graduate ready to save lives only to be constantly reminded of our inferiority.

To combat my own feelings of inferiority and fear of complacency I sought out another avenue. An avenue where inherent curiosity is an asset rather than a source of contention. As I said before, I chose nursing to be an advocate and I don't see the point in waiting to become experienced. I would rather feel what it is like to be a part of my profession's progression, rather than only its effects. But then again, I'm a new nurse.

TNA has given me more than I can ever hope to repay. It is my outlet, and while amongst members, I feel home. My fellow members have repetitively offered me support and encouragement when I needed it most. TNA has given my ideas a safe haven after being stifled elsewhere. TNA has given me confidence that my passions contain actual substance rather than pure naivety. TNA has allowed me to share my excitement about the possibilities of nursing rather than only learning the status quo. TNA has allowed me purpose within my profession.

I am a new graduate. I have a voice. I am TNA.

by Somer Young, BSN, RN
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.