Critical Care. Critical value. Critical data. Critical eye. Critical clinical thinking.
Critical Nursing. Critical conversation. Critical Nurse. Critically conversing.
It is a word used so often in the medical profession. We use it to describe the level of acuity on a particular unit. We use it to call attention to concerning test results. We use it to emphasize the level of problem solving necessary to garner successful patient outcomes. We use it to underline the depth of our communication with our patients about their situation. It is a word deeply vested in our profession. It is deeply engrained in all of us. It is a part of our daily interactions with one another. But most insidiously it marks our views of one another. And it scars our view of ourselves.
The medical profession is full of ego. Partly due to the practice itself and partly due to what it took for all of us to get here. We all had to earn our place. We all had to prove ourselves. Along our journey to this profession it was stressed to us just how important a critical eye will be in our success. Without it, we could miss something. Without it, we could lose the license that we worked so hard to obtain. Without it, someone could die. So we learn to look critically at everything around us.
Including each other.
We scrutinize each clinical decision. We make examples of mistakes. We have in services on missed opportunities. We create internal audits to highlight imperfections. We look so critically at one another that we make it impossible to be wrong. By doing so, we make being wrong not only possible, but probable. We don’t stop there. In addition to being critical of one another, we are critical of ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others, just as we were compared to those around us all through school. Criticizing ourselves when we are not the first to come up with a solution to a problem. Not able to forgive ourselves for mistakes we’ve made. Carrying with us, each critical event, and never letting it go.
We are critical. We must now think critically about how to address the fact that we have reached critical mass with the criticism of ourselves and others.
I am a critical care nurse and I have now written two posts in as many days regarding this very subject. I’ve only now, in writing this, realized that the answer is the antithesis. The juxtaposition of those words. We just stop critically caring, and instead we must begin to care critically. About ourselves. About others. It is critical.
Mrs. Medical Mess