Why I don’t write about my life as a nurse.

I have received a few messages over the last month all asking the same question.

Why don’t you write about your nursing experiences any more?
Is there a book coming?

Well here is the thing.
I worked as a nurse for 35 years. The vast majority of that time was spent working in a very busy Emergency Department.

35 years is a long time to be working in such a challenging environment. Make no mistake, the stories and experiences of my nurse life are thick and they are deep. I worked with some truly inspirational people.

Without doubt I fully expected to look back on my career from the perspective of having a great satisfaction in my work.

I thought I would retire feeling I had made at least some sort of positive difference to both colleagues and the wider public that fell under my care.

But that is not how things panned out.
Honestly, I think I was part of a team that did a lot of good work. We made a difference to many peoples lives. I made good friends. I had some amazing times.

But the last 5 plus years of my career were drowned out by a crescendo of awful.
I found myself really struggling amidst a pernicious leadership culture of bullying, political group think and personal smothering.

Largely due to my social media activities I was labeled a “risk to the organisation” and ultimately found myself denuded of both self-confidence and professional commitment.
I was increasingly embarrassed at the intensity of my newfound bitterness. I became flummoxed and withdrawn.

Eventually I fell out of love with nursing. It broke my heart that I was becoming the very bitter-and-jaded-nurse persona that I despised so much…and in truth my retirement came just in the nick of time.

I know I shouldn’t have let the negative activity of a few poison the highlights of my 35-year timeline but I so totally did.

Wait… dont fret. This not a sad ending.
My retirement from nursing was a rebirth of sorts. I hope you can get a feel of that from my posts. Life is beautiful.

But the bitter residue is that I really do not have any mojo for revisiting my nursing life.

Well, that turned out to be an overly long and rambling way of saying: sorry but no…there will be no book or reflections back on the whole big thing. There are a few old stories here that I have transcribed, you can see them in the ’related’ links below this post.

On the other hand, if you want to hear about my hair raising ride racing a storm surge down Brown mountain in Ripley, or my quest for the perfect Brussels sprouts recipe, or my deep interest in sitting still and staring at the floor for long periods of time, well stick around brothers and sisters, ’cause I’ve got a story for you…

24 responses to “Why I don’t write about my life as a nurse.”

  1. It was a great pleasure to work with you in what was a pretty toxic environment. My floating in and out shielded me from having to shoulder the burden but the toll was evident on the faces of most.

    You were definitely a beacon of hope and stability, someone who strives for excellence no matter what and someone I was proud to call a colleague.

    Your legacy will endure in the many people you were a strong, positive example to as well as those you shared your unbounded knowledge and passion with. Your willingness to talk about your personal struggles in a public forum only elevates your standing, highlighting your willingness to go out on a limb to care for the needs of others even if it means exposing vulnerabilities and jeopardising your own emotional wellbeing.

    You’re one-in-a-generation Ian. I hope in time you can find space for the pride you deserve to surround yourself with.


  2. Beautifully crafted words Jane – great perspective of self. Thank you for such a thoughtful response


  3. TCH was the most venomous, toxic place I’ve ever worked in. At the coalface there were (and are) some wonderful individuals for whom I will always be grateful, but as an organisation, it allowed bullying, negativity and disrespect become the norm. You weren’t the only one to be eaten alive. I hope you’ve found clearer skies and more appreciation since giving the place the heave-ho.


  4. Bless you Ian, I didn’t work with you, but I can still feel the legacy of you and many great nurses around TCH, as a new grad I would occassionally see you bring a patient up and think ‘It’s him, Ian Miller!’, so I hope that awe still makes its way to you somehow and gives you satisfaction that through sharing the many facets your own career and your lasting legacy of teaching in the digital age, thinking outside of the box, modeling self reflection and just occasionally a small dose of raging against the machine when necessary all still shine bright in my world. The most important lesson you taught me personally was the concept of ‘servant leadership’. My personality will never take me to ED or help me be a full time leader etc. Through what you shared about servant leadership, I realised I tend facilitate those leading and also facilitate the growth of others. I can and do step up front for a little while (but the stress of it can tire me and I then have to work hard at managing that), so I have found my thing and I can now work at it. Nursing is a platform I work in and on that has been constructed by those before me in so many ways, roughly cobbled/hammered, forged out of fire, lovingly crafted and finely refined. It is now my job to maintain and again further build that platform of knowledge, care and teaching for the next generation of nurses and of course to benefit patients, patient contact is the icing on the cake for me. My husband always points me towards the ‘beyond of nursing’ – when it gets too much or management above the ward disappoint me. Nursing is more than just a job, it is a problem solving profession where our heart, soul and tears are expended too not to mention that wheels in the organisation can be running against each other too. Most of the time I like my job, often love my job, sometimes I come away hating my job. So on those dark days when my lamp is running low (amongst the good days) I look forward to a time when I can leave it all behind, satisfied I have solved problems, perhaps comforted others, done my best in the cirmcumstance and filled the lamp of others to carry on. As my husband says ‘don’t work until it totally breaks you’ and you have modelled that too. So Ian, you built certainly built and strengthened the nursing platform I work on, sometimes you defended it with swords, filled my lamp and you are still leading, showing me there is a full life after nursing, that all consuming bugger of a profession!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane, this is quite possibly the best comment I have ever received. Thank you for taking the time to post it. It made my year.
      Best wishes and take care of yourself & your family during these uncertain times. –ian.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane Davis Asenoguan Avatar
    Diane Davis Asenoguan

    I’m so grateful I had the privilege of having you as a first point of contact for many years. Although I didnt nurse with you I was a support person who participated in Emergency Management training that included some epic mock events in Emergency. I was part of the old Redevelopment team and commissioned your new facilities and moved you from the old location to the new and I have plenty of stories to tell. I also helped with accommodation for many of your casual on call out of town nurses.

    I can remember being called in in the middle of the night to help deal with violence, or fire, and other emergencies and always felt a great sense of pride and camaraderie as we as a team dealt with whatever it was at the time.

    I also remember trying to conduct Emergency Management training to your night shift. Many times I was left alone in a room due to the overflow of patients in ER at the time. I used to worry that night shift would not receive the mandatory training necessary for accreditation and to give you a sense of confidence that you knew exactly what to do in any given situation.

    These days training is completed on line, something I never supported and every time I go back to receive care people say they don’t even know where or how to evacuate if required. You gave the best part of your young self to ER, the staff and it’s patients and you advocated strongly on issues that concerned you.

    Be proud of your career and know you touched thousands of lives in a positive way.

    I really look forwards to reading your thoughts and of your travels. Stay safe and happy and enjoy your life from now on in.


  6. Have never met you Ian, but since finding The Impacted Nurse many years ago, and continuing through The Nurse Path and Shojiwax, you have been an inspiration to me and so many others…unfortunately often at great cost to yourself professionally and emotionally. I have been lucky enough to have worked in many amazing workplaces. Not sure if that is because of Paediatrics or just pure luck. I was also lucky enough to find my “happy place” doing Prep Vision Screening, but decided at the age of 58, that you had the right idea with your “Life is Now” motto, sold up everything in Cairns, bought a Ute and a gorgeous Jayco Penguin, and have been travelling since July. Not terribly worried if I never go back to work. So thank you from the bottom of my heart…..although it’s a little frozen at the moment in country NSW. Ps….we looked through one of Ripley’s rellies at a Caravan Show….so jealous. Maybe upgrade down the track.


  7. There is no perfect brussel sprout recipe. Balls of evil should not be eaten. Sorry nursing chewed you up and spat you out.


  8. Hey Ian -a huge loss but so glad that you got out when you did.

    Remember the positives. You accomplished and contributed so much!

    Particularly for your subscribers who are not local you significantly understate the huge injustice of your previous circumstances. Following the 2018 independent review into the culture/organisation of your previous employer, some of the descriptors and findings made available to the public included:

    “….troubling practices of bullying and harassment, toxic, far worse than comparable NSW data, emotional abuse and manipulation, dysfunctional, very poor culture, prehistoric, workplace in crisis….”

    The head of the review was quoted as saying that “… it was a difficult review to do because of the distressing stories and long histories of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace they heard” (Canberra Times 1/2/2019). He also indicated that it “…would require years of work to fix” and if a media report last week is accurate, “Bullying, nepotism still rife …………..” (Canberra Times 30/7/19), there is still a long way to go.

    I had the privilege of working with you for many years and you earned enormous respect from both colleagues and peers for, among your other qualities, your clinical expertise, integrity, your special ability to teach and your willingness to share your knowledge. In my final days of working with you I was caring for a child who developed respiratory distress and they required airway support. I will always remember my great sense of relief when I realised that you were rostered to the resuscitation area; you were calm, skilled in your craft and very quickly all was under control.

    In your twilight days of nursing your many years of dedication and contribution culminated with you being recognised by the peak national professional organisation (CENA) with a one-off & extraordinary special award. This is a wonderful achievement and a fantastic way to end your career. I also have no doubt that there are many patients whom are very grateful for your involvement in their care.

    No one can ever take this from you!

    Hold your head high, remember the good times, be proud of your contribution to both the profession & emergency care and walk with a spring in your step. Most importantly, continue to enjoy the next chapter of your life!

    Unfortunately (or not) when I separated from the same organisation as you, I was not yet able to retire and with trepidation I applied for other work. I am pleased to say, for those who still have some working years ahead, that there are good healthcare organisations/employers in both the public and private sectors.

    That said, I do hope to be in your space very soon (ie. retirement) and I look forward to more time to have coffee with yourself, Kel and Juno.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this Leonie


  9. Brett Griffiths Avatar
    Brett Griffiths

    Dear old friend from the past, I came to WVH in 1983, in CCU, then stayed at TCH till 2000 mainly in Maternity, have been Community Nsg since 2003. I have many fond memories of you and the other person who has sadly long passed as I use to call him Wimp Ian Penny, and many other cheek staff who despite often grief ridden times got us through with the joyous playful teasing…but always supporting each other. When I left in 2000 it was after a period of the most aggressive and demoralising bullying from the Mgmnt at that time…so I hear very clearly what you are saying old mate. I can only wish you a happy and long lived retirement which is what you well deserve 🙂 All the best from Brett Griffiths


  10. stuart barnetson Avatar
    stuart barnetson

    Ian or should that be (Mr miller) i had the privilege of working along side of you for 35 years and whilst we may have seen the best and worst of humanity your honesty and integrity are something you should feel proud of. Whilst not being privy to some of the Negativity and bullying that occurred and eventually took its toll on you.your impact on people that worked in ED and came through as patients can never be underestimated .I enjoy reading your travel logs


  11. Ian you taught me most of what I know. You inspired me. You gave a lot to nursing and to the greater community, making a difference to a lot of people. We are fortunate to have you working in our community for all those years thank you for all gave to the nursing profession you made a difference to many.


  12. I have great respect & fondness for Ian, both working with (& once having the honour of being looked after by him). A giant of the nursing world. He is also inspirational as a person. I have just taken 12 months leave without pay due to burnout at 25yrs, the last 10 in ED. Grateful to management for supporting my choice. Am enjoying doing other things now – hope to return with my mojo back next year.


  13. Edith Torricke Avatar
    Edith Torricke

    Good on you for finding life after nursing. I’ve only reached 13 years in nursing and am planning my exit. It truly is sad that that’s the way the profession is these days. Too much bullying and beaurocracy. Good luck to you


  14. Ian, we are the fortunate ones who were able to get out before being destroyed mentally. I am grateful every day for that blessing, and I feel deeply for those still trying to push through. I, like you, cherish the people and some of the memories. You are doing a wonderful thing with your posts, using your talents to provide an alternate view on our world. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Julie Griffin Avatar
    Julie Griffin

    I will be forever grateful you looked after my dad when BIBA to ED. The care you showed him was exceptional. He passed away very peacefully. Thankyou Ian


  16. I’m disgusted Ian that was how you were treated.You worked damn hard at RCH and TCH and a fantastic Nurse to boot.Your new found passion of Travel blogging is great and I’m sure you will have a lot of success…onward and upward…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your were an inspiration to me. You taught me a lot. You are missed.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Nursing has certainly been tainted by the hierarchy and the bullying that goes on. Many nurses feel the same as you. They love the job, challenges and diversity of those on the shop floor so to speak. However, the constant pounding from those above and the grueling on going training, takes it toll.
    I’ve got 12 years left to go, and try every day to do my best, but sometimes it isnt enough… more needs to be squeezed out of me. Like you, I will put it all behind me and not want to highlight my highs and lows of nursing. Have a very full and happy retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have always been inspired by you Ian
    You are the nurse I want to be!
    Take care. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Debbie Johnson Avatar
    Debbie Johnson

    The world is made up of good people, but it also has its share of arseholes. It really pisses me off that the arseholes get promoted to the higher ranks through their lying cheating conniving ways, then proceed to make life miserable for all the honest people. Enjoy your retirement Ian, one day I may get to meet you, if Kel ever brings you out bush lol. Your travel commentary was the best xx


  21. Ian. I worked with u fr 5 years from junior reg to senior reg. Yu were awesome . Daily at 6.30am yu were in the dept. I used to make fun of yu saying did yu wet the bed. It is sad to see yr illustrious carrier did not end the way yu wanted. Really sorry about it Ian. Life is more than work. Just let it go and enjoy the life. One day yu will say thank god it happened to me ,that I could move on.Wishing yu happy and enjoyable life Ian.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Amanda Walker Avatar
    Amanda Walker

    Ian, I too have been nursing for 35yrs and I totally get where u are coming from.
    I love nursing but I too am so over EVERYTHING atm.
    Certain work colleagues of mine also make some days a challenge. I feel your pain and I think ” what else can I do” but I know nothing else.
    I give 110% every shift I know no other way of nursing.
    It has been difficult. But I have another 13yrs to go til I can retire .
    I read your posts as a sort of therapy. Thanks xx

    Liked by 1 person

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