Chicago welcomes thousands of critical care nurses: my first NTI

Stand Tall

As I struggle to stay up so I can switch back to night shift hours, I thought I’d write about my first NTI experience as it’s fresh in my mind. For all of you non-nurses, NTI, or National Teaching Institute, is the biggest annual critical care nurse gathering in the United States. Hosted by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, NTI provides critical care nurses with sessions to improve or refresh skills, to present the latest best practices, and to celebrate nursing as a profession. These are just a few subjects at NTI. NTI is so huge that it spans for about a week just to cover all the broad range of topics. And of course, there are vendors, schools, and health systems to adore us with freebies, sale pitches, and recruitment prospects. And let me say, I looked like a bag lady coming home.

With my limited time at NTI this year, I suppose I only got a small taste of what the whole thing encompasses. But what I experienced was amazing. Thousands of critical care nurses gathered in one place to better themselves, their institution, and their practice. We celebrated being nurses. We celebrated being at the front lines of the healthcare battlefield from saving lives to cleaning up vomit (maybe not that as much).

Maybe I could have gotten swept up in the moment, but I do know that I have a renewed sense about nursing. For quite some time, I have felt like jumping ship and finding a more normal profession that didn’t entail working strange hours, taking a plethora of sleep meds, suffering emotional distress, receiving phone calls at all hours of the day to work 24/7, cleaning up messes (literally and figuratively), and seeing people die frequently. It is a a taxing profession. There are days that I think why the hell did I spend a gajillion dollars on a BSN.

One of my favorite speakers at NTI, Bertice Berry who is a sociologist, talked about taking care of yourself before you can put your best foot forward. Sure, we’ve all heard it. As adults, we know that we should take care of our mind, body, and soul for optimal wellness. For me, I’ve neglected myself far more than I have hoped. I’m not exactly sure why Bertice made an impression on me. Maybe it was her charisma, humor, or my ability to relate to her. Either way, I know she has inspired me to be more proactive in my personal life and career.

I hope that more critical care nurses can take time for personal wellness. It is a stressful profession, but we need to take care of ourselves too. After all, if we fail to care for ourselves, we will be in that hospital bed sooner rather than later. And we all know, nurses make the worst patients 🙂

All in all, my first NTI was a great experience. I do wish I wasn’t so exhausted from work to appreciate it more. What bitter irony.

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