I recently read an article shared in the ENA NewsLine, “Once Again the Media Got It Wrong When It Comes to Nurses” written by Keith Carlson. In this article, Carlson references another interesting article from Cosmopolitan, “14 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Nurse”. These two articles both brought up different aspects and interpretations of being a nurse.
Reading those articles made me think back to my 38 years of being a nurse (Wow! Time flies when you’re having fun). I started when I was very young, and went into nursing because I felt it. I know that sounds corny, but I woke up one morning when I was a 17-year-old senior in high school and knew being a nurse was what I needed to do. Previously, I had thought about teaching or being a flight attendant—surprisingly, two career fields that weren’t even close to nursing.
I believe that nursing is a calling. It takes a very special person to be a nurse. There’s no doubt it’s a hard job both physically and emotionally. Not everyone can think on their feet, have compassion when it would be easier to walk away and keep themselves together while caring for the most seriously injured. Have I had shifts where I didn’t eat or go to the bathroom? Yes. Have I been yelled at by patients, families and doctors? Yes. But I have also had so much reward!
I once saw a patient’s family in a grocery store and they walked up to me and thanked me for caring for their child. The best part is, I also got to see that child standing in front of me who we previously thought wouldn’t make it. I also admire the times my healthcare team worked so closely together and in sync to save a life. Sometimes we needed little to no communication because we just knew what to do! I also reflect on the times a close friend came seeking help in navigating a health decision because the medical world is just so complex, or because they had a loved one hanging in the balance. Each of these moments truly makes being a nurse so worthwhile!
However, being a nurse is not for everyone. We are a unique blend of brains, tenacity, compassion and energy. It is not for the faint of heart or those who cannot go the extra mile when needed. It is also not a profession to enter just because there are jobs available. I believe it is our job to portray our profession truthfully and with compassion to draw in the next generation of caregivers. Nurses, we need to support, mentor and grow them to reach their full potential so that we can turn this very important profession over to them. To all upcoming nurses, best wishes! You have a very important career ahead of you!