The competition is over

An anonymous author once said, “It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. ” To this author I must inquire: were you also a nursing student? On the first day of my nursing school career I met my fellow cohort members (after weeks of reaching out to one another via social media), purchased my nifty new stethoscope, and took a seat in a lecture hall where my cohort was flooded with factoids and prep for the quarter ahead.

Sure, I adored Linda Felver from the get-go with her heart model, pill bottles, and color -coded syllabi. And of course I exhaled a deep sigh of relief when our clinical instructors said, “Look, you’ll understand the flow soon enough. This is confusing. We know!” But what I remember most about that day was the phrase, “The competition is over.”

We were encouraged repeatedly to metaphorically pat ourselves on the back. We had gotten into the accelerated nursing program, and now it was time to learn collaboratively. But after years of competition in education and priding myself on high marks and success it took a little while for this new “way of learning” to sink in. Here I find myself in the middle of Week Seven—a bit overwhelmed and scrambled, but having survived three midterms, a dosage calculations exam, and a physical assessment. Let me tell you I now understand more than ever why nursing school is collaborative and why it cannot successfully be a competitive environment. Without the support of my colleagues there were days I may not have been able to turn my attitude around, there were exam concepts that I might not have mastered as well, and there were some laughs that made the “Felver Twelver” and long Mondays and Wednesdays all the better.

Removing the competition and focusing on the education is making me a better learner and a better colleague.  Removing the competition has made me feel free to ask questions and seek support; it’s also made me more willing than ever to study with others and share any tips I might have (mnemonics are still my best friend). I believe that this style of learning will complement my professional life and foster a collaborative work ethic in the future.

To reference the quote I began with, it’s truly patient-centered care when all providers—doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.—work together, egos aside, to provide the best care. No one individual deserves the credit, because getting here and treating our patients is a joint effort. I am confident we can pride ourselves on this style of learning and professionalism here at OHSU!