Commentary: Learning how to rethink New Year’s resolutions
With January upon us and the bombardment of weight loss advertisements, we turn our thoughts, feelings and actions toward New Year’s resolutions. Many of us focus on losing weight, exercising or drinking more water. Some people move out of the physical realm and focus on inner peace or better relationships. As a nurse, I strongly believe in a person’s holistic health, which includes physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being, so I advocate for any of the previously mentioned New Year’s goals. However, instead of the usual goal of eating more vegetables, may I suggest a resolution for this year and many years to come: the goal of lifelong learning?
Many people may not realize this, but nurses must be lifelong learners. They constantly learn new knowledge, skills and attitudes. Many nurses take continuing education courses or get nationally certified in their areas of expertise. As part of their profession, nurses must stay current in their fields or learn new skills if they transition to a new field. For example, in my 25 years as a labor and delivery nurse, the recommended medications for pain relief, nausea and pre-term labor have changed. Mounting evidence has altered many medication recommendations, and nurses must stay aware of those changes. In addition to clinical skills, nurses must stay current on national guidelines and keep up with policies at their facility or organization. As health care changes, nurses must be on the front lines of safe, evidence-based practice.
Weber State University’s nursing programs are another excellent example of lifelong learning. In addition to maintaining and increasing one’s clinical expertise, nurses can further their formal education. At Weber State, nursing students can attain any degree, from associate to doctoral degrees. These degrees allow graduates to gain various licensures and certifications, from registered nurse to family nurse practitioner, and we pride ourselves on the availability of these stacked credentials. I have been at Weber State long enough to have witnessed many of my students receive their associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. In addition, several of my students who received their associate degrees as registered nurses have now gone on to get their master’s degrees in nursing education and are my colleagues at the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing.
To circle back to my initial challenge to resolve to be a lifelong learner, you may be saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with me? I don’t want to go to nursing school or be a nurse.” However, you may want to learn how to change the oil in your car, or maybe it’s time to join the local pickleball league. Perhaps you’d like to become the best succulent grower in three counties, or learn how to find your long-lost cousins from the Netherlands. Regardless of the learning one does, it is all valuable, and often, learning doesn’t only impact you, but it can also help others around you. New and improved knowledge, skills and attitudes can never be taken away from you.
While I believe nursing is the noblest profession, I realize it isn’t for everyone, and I value education and learning in any form. May we all commit to learning at least one new thing this year and endeavor to share our newfound knowledge, skills or attitudes with those around us. Happy New Year and happy learning!
Rieneke Holman, Ph.D., RN, is the chair of the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. She has been “bleeding purple” at Weber State since 2010.