A story of learning from someone I used to hate

Nursing students having faculty issues, read on.

An ex-professor just called me, and I was happy to hear from her. We had a great conversation and plan to have lunch soon. Had anyone told me when I was in school that this would occur, I would have thought they should be committed. I despised her. We did not get along. I disagreed with many things she did and believed.

But she showed me my first example of nurses using appropriate confrontation to discuss disagreements. I still didn't agree with her afterward, and my feelings were hurt from the criticisms she leveled on me. However, she communicated in such a way that I was able to really look at myself and change what she suggested, and that has been to my benefit.

More to my benefit has been the lesson that even when an interpersonal situation seems impossibly bad (I really despised this woman), it can be salvaged if it is addressed and both parties are willing to hear each other out and are willing to entertain the possibility they might be wrong. This lesson may be the single most important thing I learned in nursing school.

Years later, I had one of her students as my Capstone student, and this student was having an experience similar to mine. I was able to pass along what I had learned, and she too was able to change her relationship and herself and learn the importance of communication and openness to change.

Sadly, my mentor is ill, and I have visited her in the hospital in the middle of the night when she was awake and I was on break. I haven't seen her for a while since I no longer at the hospital, but I have been thinking about her, so I was thrilled when she called. We had an enjoyable conversation, and I look forward to having lunch with her soon.

It's yet another example of how this "gee, I wanna be a nurse" journey has taught me important life lessons and added great richness to the tapestry of my life.