Did you know we featured real medical professionals in our Classics campaign? Now we’re giving you the opportunity to learn more about each of these amazing individuals. Get to know Ebi P.
First off, tell us a little bit about you.
I’m from Nigeria. My family moved to Chicago when I was 9. I went to Malone University and I’m an ICU nurse at UCLA.
Why did you become a nurse?
My parents were very education oriented and pushed for a job that would always be there. My mom noticed I had a knack for science, and was more emotional than the rest of my siblings—I would be bringing in animals to nurse back to health! I wanted to be a vet, but my mom doesn’t like animals, so she started pushing me toward healthcare. I shadowed a resident and a nurse and looked at the schooling and life for each, and decided on nursing. My mom and I actually went to nursing school around the same time.
There aren’t a lot of jobs where you get the combination of feeling like you healed people and made an actual impact. The schedule is amazing. I’ve left bedside to work a 9-5 management position in the past, and the schedule was the hardest part of doing that. I feel like I’m in a rewarding profession, and it really fits with the way I like to have my schedule.
You’re a travel nurse. Can you tell us more about what that’s like?
I tried to go to the Air Force 3-4 years ago—I was already commissioned as an officer. There were some issues with paperwork that delayed leaving, so I started looking for other options and stumbled across travel nursing.
I feel like that was a moment in my life that things pivoted. It opened up a lot of opportunities. It left me with the freedom to keep using social media. I had my Instagram account but it wasn’t the size it was—I thought I’d put it away when I went to the military. Now my mindset, as much as I still love learning, is more entrepreneurial and teaching. I’m on a different path.
I’ve been travel nursing for awhile and worked at a lot of hospitals. I came to California on a travel contract at UCLA and really liked it. It was the first place where I saw a lot of the aspirational things we talk about in nursing—resources that make it easier for nurses to provide quality care, adequate staffing. Then I left and went to another hospital for awhile, and put my application in for the resource flow pool, which is a very highly coveted position in LA.
What does a typical shift look like for you (if there even is one)?
I wake up around 5. I have an active dog, so we’ll go out and run a couple miles. First thing I do is get there early enough to eat. After report, I look through everyone’s information, make out a worklist. Then I do an assessment and introduce myself. I usually have 2 patients, maybe 3-4, but never 3 or 4 at the same time. I keep track of orders, coordinate between doctors and patients, and make sure everything that’s supposed to happen, happens.
How would your coworkers describe you?
I have a calming presence. High strung people make me feel anxious, so I try to bring everyone down a notch, even in emergencies. I try to bring people down from a frantic level.
We know “a day in the life of a nurse” is challenging. What keeps you going back?
I was lucky to have good preceptors, but people receive you in certain ways based on things out of your control or how you present yourself. Nurses have to foster resilience. You can’t take everything a patient says or another coworker treating you poorly to heart.
What’s your advice to someone just starting out as a nurse?
I think nursing is one of those professions that’s having its moment right now. It’s an exciting time to be a nurse. I always encourage people to look into it. It’s hard, but it also gives you a lot back.
- Nurses really base their identity on their profession. Even in their Instagram handles. You entwine it so much with your identity. But you’re still you. You need to build your personal identity.
- You can deal with anything for 12 hours. You clock out and you’re done. No one’s calling you at home.
- Anyone who’s thinking about it or unsure—it’s worth taking a look. If you hate it, you’ll know in nursing school. If you really have no clue what you want to do and have any sort of heart for people, give it a try. You might be surprised. And you might be rewarded with this awesome schedule.
What’s one piece of medical advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t sell yourself short. You might be able to do more than you think.
Do you have any regrets at work, or something you’d do over?
I try not to be big on looking back—there’s nothing you can do about it. But you need to get a little taste of regret to learn from things. One thing I do regret is not raising the bed high enough—my back is so shot! I’m 31 and my back really hurts!
What’s something about the medical profession that they DON’T tell you when you’re in school? What surprised you the most?
Do well, study, get your grades, but your learning hasn’t started yet. When you start working, that’s when you get your real nursing degree. You have to realize that when you start working, the textbook things versus what actually works sometimes are not the same. That’s a very hard thing to acclimate to. You’ve left school, and this is the second part of your learning—come in with an open mind to learn and not try to correct everything your preceptor is trying to teach you.
How do you spend your time when you’re not at work?
It’s really important for nurses to take advantage of their off time, do some R&R. Make sure you do that. We joke about carpe diem and seizing your off day—but that’s an integral part of not getting burnt out. You have to have a full life outside of nursing.
If it’s been a rough stretch, I haven’t been on a trip for awhile, I need a day where I lay on the couch and eat stuff! But I’ve been trying to be better about getting out. Going on hiking trails is a good way to refresh. I love going out to eat and getting friends together—I feel recharged. I’m on the hunt for best burgers in LA. And all the taco food trucks—I’ve been chasing those down!
I do personal projects that have nothing to do with nursing. In the age of social media and technology, everyone should be playing around with that. Instagram for the most part is just for fun, but I always encourage people to try and do something with it. It can be your own personal art.
Can you tell us more about your social media account, @nurselifern, and how you started it?
I started it right around the time I began working in the ICU. I was very comfortable in med-surge, but was getting very burnt out—you have way more patients than ICU, and it’s harder for you to really know what’s going on with them. But in the ICU, I had a hard time experiencing more patient thoughts, and working in that setting brought a lot of thoughts on about mortality. I had a pretty hard time with that transition, because by the time I was switching, I was very established in what I thought I knew as a nurse. I would see a lot of people coming in, watch them going through these horrible things, see people pass. The account became an outlet.
There were other nursing accounts and I would see the stuff they were posting. It didn’t feel like actual nursing. We can make a place where nurses say they hate several aspects of their job. I think that’s what grew the account—I refused to play the game and be very PC about everything. When you’re pretending to be a perfect person, you’re more likely to try and hide things. @nurselifern forces people to see this is a reality. You don’t have to hold it in and pretend it’s not happening.
I feel like it’s becoming even more intimate even though it’s growing, because it’s all been organic and genuine—the people decided to be there. It’s like having a superpower—I have half a million nurses in my pocket and I’m communicating with them. I’m like Professor X with Cerebro now! I can’t thank my followers enough for giving me the opportunity to be in that position.
You’re one of our team members for our new Classics collection. What do you think about these scrubs?
I like them because they still look good but they’re not as “look at me.” Being 6’5” with a normal torso but really long legs, I never find pants that are long enough. But I can wear them comfortably. The fabric feels great—it’s durable but comfortable.
How did it feel being part of this campaign?
No one’s ever asked me to do anything like that before! It was a great experience. I wish everyone could be treated like that. Everyone was so nice, making us laugh. I feel like I’m not photogenic but I see the pictures and I realize having a good photographer matters. The whole time I was standing there, I was thinking, “I hope they can get one decent picture.” To see it after—they made me look like that! To be part of something that professional, not a lot of people get the chance for that.
Follow Ebi: @nurselifern