Michael Dion

You have to see the heart

A nurse passionate about self care, Michael talks about how nurses have to take care of themselves if they are going to be able to take care of other people.

portrait of Michael Dion, nurse at UC Davis Health


I believe strongly what I do, as a nurse. I really do believe that what I ... And I do think that in order to ... And you have to see the hearts of people that you're taking care of. You can't take the things that you're told personally, you can't take the things they say to you personally, you have to be able to see, look into the heart and you have to see that this person had they had other life experiences or grown up in a different setting and had the best opportunities handed to them, they would've probably been a much different person. And it's through no fault of their own in many cases because things start out very early at a young age that these people have horrible things happen to them and they end up just completely shattered.

And when we get them, for us to come in and judge them or treat them like garbage, even though we might say, "Yeah, they're a pain in the ass or meth doesn't work for you," or make little jokes like that. Even though we might say things like that, it's important to realize that these are human beings and they got a really hard shake in life and we need to recognize that. And it's unfair to put your negativity and your judgment on them. And then what I noticed is when I became more burnout, I became more of that judgmental labeling type person who was not willing to see the person and who found myself more angry at them than actually wanting to care for them.

And so, it's important to center yourself and also take care of yourself so that you can take care of others because if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others. And that's an important part of burnout that people need to realize. And I think that when I'm in the emergency room, I've been in the emergency room for so long that the stories that I share, like coding a young child who just had a chest of drawers fall on them and it crushed their skull and then you're in that room and that child dies and you come out of the emergency room and you go into Room One, where you're being yelled at because they didn't get a blanket in time because everybody's in the room trying to ...

It's very easy to yell at them and get angry with them but you really have to put it into compartments and you have to compartmentalize but you also have to unpack those compartments. If you don't unpack those compartments and you just bury them and bury them and bury them and then you start doing things like drinking too much and you don't have introspection and you don't continually check in with yourself, then negativity starts boiling up. And then you have people leaving the field way too early and hating the field of nursing. And we can't afford that. And you also have divorces and you have lots of unhealthy behaviors that creep out of what you do. So, I feel that having been on that journey, I feel it's important to relay that to other people that are not there yet or haven't realized that this is one of the best jobs you can ever do, if you look at it from that perspective.

Yeah, I mean-