Tuesday, October 24, 2006

addressing personal inadequacies to better assist others

Once again I’m feeling miserable about this job. I feel as if I can’t do it, I don’t know what to do, I’m not supporting the graduates sufficiently, I should stop pretending I can do the job and make way for somebody else who really can. I’ve been sitting staring blankly at my diary, trying to figure out a way to change my situation, but mostly just feeling dejected and wondering why I’ve circled back to this place again. I think there are a few things at the root of my unsettled feeling.

I’m still finding my way in terms of how best to support graduates. The longer I puzzle over this, the more I realise that there is no one answer to this great dilemma! Every graduate is unique, individual, different. It would be futile to approach each RN in the same manner and offer the same support. The key to success is to individually assess the graduates and tailor support to their individual needs. It’s hardly rocket science, but when one starts out in a new area a simple formula for success is highly desirable. It’s unnerving to realise that there is no simple formula and no easy answer. The only solution is to approach each situation with an open mind and respond to what is in front of you.

Recently someone I know applied for and was offered an educator position in another area of the hospital. I’m excited for them, because they have worked hard to reach this place and they deserve the position. (Congratulations if you are reading this!) They are full of enthusiasm, as well as having a great grounding in education. I personally think they will do a fantastic job.

I think deep down I’m feeling somewhat threatened by this. Here I am with no specific training for my role, struggling to find the best way to do it, feeling ineffective and there they are with lots of skills and training and ideas. What if they do better than me and everyone sees how poor a job I am doing?

OK, a positive twist is that this person can be a resource and support person for me, and I can be for her in some ways too. We can help each other to be better educators.

Another source of angst is one of the graduates. They have been mildly verbally aggressive in their approach to me, bombarding me with complaints - the graduate program is not very good; they aren’t given opportunity to express their grievances regarding the program; and they are not being supported in achieving their goals. They constantly point out the faults in other people’s practice, and blame their lack of progress towards objectives on the system and thus on me. This all comes on top of their initial comment when we met that I was ‘very young’ – ie you aren’t old enough to do this job properly and I’m not going to respect you because of your age.

Their manner immediately gets my back up – I don’t appreciate the aggression and they win no favours from me with that approach. I also don’t appreciate people who refuse to take responsibility for their own progress. And it might be worth them examining their own practice and looking for the faults there before they start slating everyone else.

Having said all that, their attitude has shaken me. Someone sees through my subterfuge! Their lack of respect has latched onto my lack of respect for myself and I feel small and insufficient.

This has to stop. I need to take some practical steps that will restore my faith in myself as well as improving my professional performance.

1. Rest confidently in who I am and what I bring to the position. Halt the feeling of being threatened by this graduate. Instead of reacting defensively, take the time to listen to their grievance and offer support.

2. Embrace the new educator and be delighted for their success. Offer my ideas and experience and be open to their ideas and experience and knowledge. Develop two way sharing with them.

3. Seek out knowledge. Read and research about assessment and education. Take time to reflect on my interactions with each graduate and identify support strategies that will work for them.

4. Above all be positive and encouraging to myself! I am my own worst enemy!


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