Recently a student came to my office and after closing the door, burst into tears. She shared that she was going through a personal crisis at home and was having a difficult time focusing in class. I rode home that evening thinking about the people I have worked with over the years in various health care settings who were having difficulty in their personal lives, but who came to work and tried to function as if all was well. Indeed, I have done this myself on many occasions.
I have never understood how anyone can expect people to go to school or work each day and leave their personal lives at the door, and how it could ever be expected that we can go home at the end of the day and entirely leave our work at work. It puzzles me. Do I hang up my emotions and the feelings that define what and who I am? How can I do that? How can I expect my co-workers, my students, the man in the toll booth, the woman behind the register, the child crying at the bus stop, how can I expect all of these people not to feel as they go about their day-to-day living? Why would I want to deny them their humanness?
Nurses and other health care professionals know better. We know that all people suffer from all kinds of things; nurses especially know this because we look at the wholeness of human beings. Yet, we go to work in places where we do not acknowledge our own personal or professional suffering.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone acknowledged that human suffering exists everywhere? In a healthy workplace (or educational) environment quality caring is evident when there are opportunities for everyone—coworkers, classmates, staff, etc., to share their concerns in a supportive environment, one that embraces everyone’s humanness.