Let me put you out of your misery.

If you are a nurse you suffer from some form of professional amnesia.

Professional amnesia is a term that I’ve slapped on how we all forget what it’s like to be new.

It starts after your first six months into practice. First, you enter the disillusionment phase because the honeymoon period has so gone to the wayside. This illusive period may not have even lasted into your 6 months. I know mine lasted all of 3 minutes.

It’s during this phase that you begin to question your decision to become a nurse, question the ethical structure of the healthcare system, question why providers argue with you against patient safety because it wasn’t their idea, question why you have to fight everyday just to get medications from pharmacy (Shouldn’t they just bring them?), and justify the overtime for documentation.

As you question, you try to protect yourself from the complex brokenness that we, as nurses, work in everyday. How do you protect yourself? How do you survive with your psyche intact?

You begin to harden yourself to how you feel about the frustrations because it hurts too dang much. That’s when a film begins to cover your memory. You begin to forget why you went into nursing. You forget your hopes, joys, dreams, fears, and love for the profession.

At a year you are beginning to enter full professional amnesia to protect yourself from your emotions. You don’t want to feel anymore because it’s scary and it hurts. You want to do the right thing but sometimes the system or egos get in your way. People, good people, get hurt. The only way to survive is to shut off that part of yourself because then you won’t feel that pain or fear.

After a year professional amnesia begins to harden and sets leaving you scarred, jaded, leaning one more step toward burn out.

Then as your heart and mind are covered by the professional amnesia film you forget your first day and all of the emotions that accompanied being a new nurse. You lose yourself and your way.


You’ve become that old crotchety nurse bully you never wanted to cross paths with when you were a student. Heck, you don’t want to cross paths with them now.

Take it back. Take back who you are. You don’t want to be that crusty dead ol’ thing, if you do then you can stop reading right now. Please excuse me for taking up some of your day. Go forth and revel in your heart being two sizes too small.

If you don’t want to live like this, REMEMBER! Peel back the cellophane of amnesia.

Close your eyes, do you remember who you felt walking through the doors of your first job? What did you think as you walked onto the floor? Where you scared? Overwhelmed? Excited? Did you want to save the world?

Live those memories. Feel them. You never lost them. They are still there covered by that protective cataract. Asking yourself those questions and going back you will be able to access them thanks to our hippocampus.

By remembering you will get back who you are and why you became a nurse. Your passion will return and your heart will swell. I know. I lived in the land of the amnesiacs. It was easy and then it became hard because I didn’t know who I was. I had to go back and remember. Now, I never forget.

When you remember you will begin to feel again and it won’t hurt any less than before but you can learn how to manage it. You are stronger than you know.

Share this strength.

This is important because new nurses need you. They will need someone who understands what they are going through. They need you to mentor them through those growing pains.

Remembering will help them know that you have their back.

Be brave. Without each other we have nothing.



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