I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Husson University’s Baccalaureate Nursing program in 2016 and soon after entered the workforce with the intention of doing the best I could for each and every patient I had the honor of working with. My first job as a new nurse was at a small, critical access hospital in the sleepy town of Belfast, Maine. I completed my senior nursing partnership at that hospital and spent the last semester working as a CNA on the same floor. I had an absolutely fabulous manager and coworkers I am grateful for to this day. The whole “nurses eat their young” myth didn’t seem true at this hospital. I was encouraged and supported throughout my partnership, as a CNA, and a new nurse. A rare gem!
I cut my teeth as a medical/surgical nurse. I learned from the seasoned nurses and doctors, I advocated more and more fiercely as I learned and understood more, and I experienced the thrill of being part of a medical team. I loved my work a lot of the time. I took on projects, and extra shifts, floated to different departments, and asked lots of questions. Although I was doing well, establishing good relationships with my co-workers and patients, honing my nurse intuition… there was this nagging feeling within me that this particular type of healing wasn’t in full alignment with my healer archetype. I understood the things I did throughout my shift were helping my patients heal, and I also felt a growing sensation that there was something missing. It was as if the majority of my patients were like boats with a hole in the bottom, and I was just going around plugging up the holes with bubblegum… it’ll work for a while, but eventually, the boat is going to spring a leak.
Almost every patient I worked with was struggling with at least one chronic disease. Why was this so prevalent? Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, COPD, cancer, dementia, you name it… Chronic disease was slowly killing the people I cared for, and sometimes it felt like all I could do for them was give them pills that masked their symptoms and created other imbalances in the body. It was disheartening.
I didn’t have the time or resources to educate them on the root cause of their illnesses, and honestly, most of them probably wouldn’t have wanted to hear it anyway. A lot of people really do want to keep their lifestyles, and their illnesses, and just take medications to keep their symptoms from overtaking their lives.
Curiosity took hold and I started learning more about what exactly causes chronic disease and how to prevent that from happening. I was 21 years old, overwhelmed by the thought of going back to school so soon after completing a rigorous nursing program, but I wanted to understand how to become the healer I felt I was, not necessarily the healer I was trained to be. I decided that a Health Coach certification program was the next best step, so that’s what I did. I learned about the habits that form chronic disease and how to use the same landscape of habits to create health instead of illness.
I left the small-town hospital and moved to Austin, Texas where I practiced nursing at a Level 1 Trauma/Teaching hospital. I saw more, learned more, and interacted with a more diverse patient population and medical team to boot. I was still in the world of nursing, seeing the shocking reality of the western healthcare system, but I was learning more about natural and alternative health on my own. I had resources to share with the patients who were interested in creating real change and reversing the chronic diseases they suffered from every day. Bonding with patients in the space of hope is something I’ll carry with me forever.
Although it felt wonderful to show up to work with the intention of helping the patients and my team, the RN role was getting harder and harder for me to do with a clear conscience. Standing my tired feet at the machine that dispensed medications and filling cup after cup with chemicals that sustained life but offered little to no hope was really challenging for me. Having very real conversations with injured adolescents and parents about how addictive opioids are and not knowing if they became another statistic after discharge was heartbreaking. The system wasn’t set up to facilitate the healing that many of these folks required, and I started feeling pulled elsewhere.
The thing that was hardest for me was feeling the fire within me for helping and healing, while simultaneously feeling burnt out by the way that I was required to do so within the confines of a broken medical system.
I left my job as a bedside RN in August 2018. It was simultaneously liberating and heartbreaking. I had no idea that hanging up my scrubs would create so much struggle with identity. I am grateful for that struggle because it helped me learn that your identity is HOW you’re doing anything you are doing… not WHAT you’re doing.
That being said… I have traveled over 10,000 miles with the same 3 pairs of scrubs. Just in case ;)
I left my satisfactory life in Austin and stable job as an RN to buy a van, convert it to an off-grid home to live in full time, and see where the road took me. That’s when stuff got really fun… but that’s a story for a different time.
For right now, I’ll bring you to the summer/fall of 2019 (remember when we had like no idea we’d endure the pandemic? lol, good times).
I was still living in the van with my partner, Chevy, and we had returned to Maine for the summer/fall season. The “just in case” scrubs came in handy when I accepted a job at a hospital in southern Maine. It was at this job I learned the subtle magic of night shift comradery and how we held the hospital together while the pantsuit committee got their beauty rest. Dear PSC, here’s your answer to everything: hire more staff, treat them like the heroes they are, and provide them with the equipment and support they need to do a fantastic job… because they will.
Now that we’re all feeling grateful for the healthcare heroes in this country, I’ll proceed to tell you that I hung up my nurse cape until March of 2020 when I got a job with a lovely hospice company in Verde Valley… until it became a challenge for me to secure housing which sent me to Phoenix. Easier housing, more opportunities, and a new place to live and explore. I was going to simply transfer branches, but I got some red flags in the interview and stumbled upon an incredibly aligned opportunity at an alternative cancer healing clinic.
My time at Oasis was awesome - I worked with incredible people who embraced alternative measures to healing cancer… and a workplace perk was a mason jar full of green juice every day. It’s the little things, ya know?
The alternative methods we provided for our patients included preparing each person raw, plant-based meals, hyperthermia therapy, custom IV infusions, Insulin Potentiating Therapy, BEMR, ozone, lymphatic massage, colonics, acupuncture, naturopathy… and other modalities I’m probably forgetting.
Unfortunately, I didn’t work at the clinic for long before I got covid and my whole life proceeded to morph into something unrecognizable. Yet another story for another time.
Since covid and life circumstances prohibited me from returning to that job, I’ve focused my nursing energy on myself and my recovery since then.
It’s been 2 years since I pulled on my “just in case” scrubs. The way I care and nurture has shifted quite a bit in that time. I am witnessing deeper healing on the emotional and energetic levels than the physical healing as I did when I was a nurse. To check out what I’m up to now, visit guidely.com
At one point, you couldn’t have convinced me that I wouldn’t work as an RN, a Nurse Practitioner, or a Midwife. Life changes, people change, and expectations and reality aren’t always synced… but one constant is my dedication to service in a way that animates my soul with love.
Thank you for witnessing my story and the unfolding of Nurse Hannah, my “just in case” scrubs are still in the closet - the story isn’t over yet.
Until next time,