Well, well, well. It looks like my workplace has conditionally approved a job-share for myself and a Nurse Practitioner colleague following the end of my medical leave of absence. Suddenly, the future looks a whole light brighter.
What does this new reality mean for the earnest nurse who is ever-so-steadily recovering and recuperating from acute burnout, vicarious traumatization, and compassion fatigue? The true meaning of this new reality is multifaceted. Initially, it means that I will no longer carry the emotional, psychological, and clinical weight of some 80 patients on my own shoulders. Instead of a caseload of 80 for which I am solely responsible, I will share a caseload of patients with a very competent Nurse Practitioner of whom I am exceedingly fond. I will be in the office three days per week, and she will be in the office the other two days. With our excellent rapport, open communication, and superb documentation, we will bear this load together, neither of us slogging through the dreaded five-day week. We will meet for lunch once a month to discuss cases, talk by phone, communicate by email, and otherwise work as a well-oiled clinical nurse-machine, free of the burnout born of the forty-hour week.
I acknowledge that I am lucky to be able to either 1) afford to pay a pro-rated increased rate for my health insurance as a part-time employee or, 2) take part in my wife's health plan under the auspices of her place of employment. With health insurance being one of the major factors for many workers staying in jobs which they dislike or cause them undue stress, I realize that I am privileged in having choices vis-a-vis my healthcare and insurance.
As far as generating income, I also realize how lucky I am that, as a registered nurse, the ability to earn money on a per diem basis is one which makes the nurse a hot commodity in the current job market. With two per diem positions already in my employment portfolio---one with a visiting nurse agency and the other at a urban community health center) this part-time nurse can choose to earn extra money one week and slouch around the house the next. What better burn-out prevention could there be?
Taking a leave of absence was a leap of faith which was initiated by my wife (with only a mild threat of divorce) and embraced whole-heartedly by me when I realized that there was no other way for me to regain my emotional balance. With chronic illnesses slowly overtaking my previous state of relative good health, we both acknowledged that something had to give (and I had already "given at the office", so to speak).
Now, as the layers of stress begin to unravel after two weeks' leave, I now face the next four weeks of leave with a desire for further healing and recuperation. With part-time employment and brighter prospects at work, perhaps my life is truly turning around.