About two weeks ago colleagues and I wrote a post about Loving your work. It generated some interesting conversations on Twitter and continues to emerge in various Facebook groups, Twitter chats (#sachat), and professional conference backchannels (check out #ACPA15). Earlier this week I had a parallel conversation with a Nursing colleague. She has years of experience as both a nurse in practice and as an administrator.
We got chatting about students and why they are drawn to Nursing. I have had time to process our conversation. It is now one of my all time favorite conversations. I believe that every time the word nurse is mentioned, it can be substituted with higher education professional, student affairs professional, teacher, social worker…any helping professional. And the word patients can be substituted with students.
Most of our students are drawn to this selfless, helping profession for all the right reasons. They want to help people. But some students have failed in other fields and are coming to nursing because they are still damaged and broken and think that nursing will fix them. Your role as a nurse is to help patients. It is not a mutual relationship. You serve. Patients take. Your success and your joy comes from watching your patients heal. If there is drama in clinical, it’s because of you, not the patient. Nursing is a continuum- excellent to mediocre to bad- and you get to choose what kind of nurse you are and where on that continuum you want to be.
How many of us student affairs professionals go into this field because we want to help people? I raise my hand. I was an undergraduate student leader who wanted to do this for my life to help others have similar experiences. In and of itself wanting to help others is a good thing. But the help has to be about the recipient, not the giver.
I want to help people. This is about you as the helper.
I want to help people. Where is the want coming from? If we dig deep, how many student affairs professionals are here because we are looking to be fixed?
I want to help people. Better.
I want to help people. This is where we should all strive to be. Just as nurses need to be patient-focused, we need to be student-focused. The work that we do is about students and their outcomes, not our own.
If nurses care for patients while broken, their internal holes, their brokenness, will grow. The patient is there for him/herself, not the nurse.
The same with students.
If we come to our work broken, looking to be fixed, our students will drag us along with them. Because that is what they are supposed to do. It’s about them. Our work is not for mutual benefit.
Our work is not to fix ourselves through students.
Our work is not fix students.
Our work is to help students fix themselves.