Hi everyone! My name is Claire Lang, and I am the new editor of the Nurse Insights blog for OHN. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, tell you a little bit about who I am, and share my background.
Adapting to Life
I grew up in northern Virginia, loving school, music, playing volleyball, soccer, running, and anything outdoors. As a kid, I imagined myself as a vet, female activist, doctor, or lawyer (probably like many of you reading this). At the start of my freshmen year, I didn’t know what to major in. I bounced around from biochem, to nutrition, to international studies, to environmental planning. Eventually landing in the English department my sophomore year studying creative writing, language, linguistics, and literature. When family and friends asked what I wanted to do with it, I wasn’t really sure. All I knew was that writing was therapeutic for me.
Being on campus at Virginia Tech when the shootings happened in April of 2007, I lost track of life. It all seemed so fragile, my thoughts felt frazzled, and I couldn’t get a grip on anything. As I mentioned, I was looking for an emotional outlet, and creative writing provided that. I finished my undergrad at Virginia Tech with my B.A. in English in 2010 and moved back to Northern Virginia.
I found Yoga when I was around 20 years old and began using the practice for stress management. It wasn’t until I took a Vinyasa class a couple years later that I really fell in love. There’s something cleansing about moving fluidly with one breath to each movement. Placing so much focus on every inhale and exhale, you can almost slow time. During that one hour of practice, I cleared my mind of sick family members, PTSD, to-do lists, bills, friends to catch up with, and all of life’s external worries.
Yoga taught me that I can’t control anything, except the way I react. I have the power to choose how I react towards everything internal and external. With the practice of yoga, I found I could drop my shit at the door, emotional baggage and all, step onto my mat, and simply be present with my breath. I let go of what no longer served me, and realized we’re always where we’re meant to be. I learned to trust the process (and like everyone else, I still need a little reminder from time to time).
My Journey Into the Nursing Field
A year after college I moved to a little town called Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I found so much solitude living in the mountains and being in nature. I had the freedom to hike, snowboard, and paddle down the river any day I chose. It was THE life! Working multiple odd jobs, I eventually found a position at the local hospital in the business department. Sitting in a cubicle quickly made me realize how much I wanted a more meaningful career. Acknowledging that we spend somewhere around 50% of our lives working, I knew I could do more to help others. After three years in Colorado, I made the decision to move back to Virgina for nursing school and live closer to family.
I enrolled in an accelerated BSN-RN program at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Fifteen months later, I began my nursing career working in the NICU at Georgetown University Hospital in D.C. I quickly fell in love with my job!
After NICU orientation, I received a scholarship to complete a yoga teacher training program (RYT-200) through LifePower Yoga. Sadly, I haven’t found time to teach, but I have hopes to do so in the future. It’s hard to find consistency in any given week when our nursing schedules often fluctuate between day shift and night, working weekends and holidays, etc. (Anyone else struggle with finding a balance??)
Nursing Friendships: An Unmatched Bond
I’ve worked in the NICU for almost six years, and I’m lucky to take care of some of the tiniest, most precious souls. There are always good days and bad. Somedays I want to stay in bed for a couple extra hours, because I’m so tired and emotionally drained. Other days I feel so excited that I’ve made monumental steps in bettering a baby’s life that I can’t wait to come back the next shift. I know many of us ebb and flow between feeling burned out and having a burning passion for what we do. Fortunately, we get through it all together by supporting our nursing family.
I’ve made a lot of forever-friends since I started my nursing journey. A few from nursing school, and others within my NICU family. Nurse friendships are a really special and unique connection. I think in part because the people that nursing attracts. Another part is that we go through crazy experiences together, bonding us in ways we can’t always put into words. We see each other through the highs and lows, the sleep deprived shifts, and spend many of our holidays together.
I know most of us have had the experience of explaining something to friends/family who are not in the medical field. You might find yourself feeling or saying, “ya, but you don’t really understand”. You know other nurses understand what it feels like when you say you’re tired, because you just finished four nights shifts in a row. They understand when you say you’re feeling numb or depressed, because your favorite patient coded and the team couldn’t resuscitate. What I’m trying to say, is we get each other. We might show our emotions very differently (I laugh in almost all situations…even inappropriate times), but, as nurses, we feel the same things and endure similar situations.
My Current Sitch
In February, 2021 I completed a Meditation Teacher Program with meditation guru, Tracey Stanley. I hope to share with you the meditation practices and techniques I learned. Maybe you can apply them to your daily lives to help with the stresses we often encounter working in healthcare.
In April, after a couple COVID postponements (a year to be exact), I married the nicest human I’ve ever met (thanks to a nurse coworker who set us up—Gabby Holley, put your hand up). It’s interesting how life unfolds. The people we meet that we are meant to meet; the obstacles and triumphs that bring us to where we are meant to be.
All in all, the road that led me into the nursing field is an interesting one. It has been quite a journey…but enough about me! I’m so ready to hear your stories and share insights with our nursing community through this Nurse Insights blog. Please reach out to me if there’s a story to share or topics that you’re interested in! I appreciate any and all feedback so that we can better serve our nursing community. My email is: [email protected]
I look forward to this journey we can share together!