This years national nurses day and nurses week has me caught between a rock and a hard place. To some it’s a secret, to some it’s not – I have chosen to leave the hospital setting and pursue other avenues of nursing. The transition hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s been a necessary one and has instilled endless amounts of both inspiration and introspection into my being. Over time I’ve found that what I did and who I was wasn’t entirely aligning. I was basing my career path off of what I thought others expected me to be, not off of who I already was. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a day that I practiced in PICU. It brought me to where I am today, and highlighted where my real strengths and passions lie. But why isn’t the transition easy peasy lemon squeezy then?
Let’s take it back to the early days of nursing school. You go around the room at the beginning of nearly every semester and introduce yourself and what “kind of nurse” you want to become – because you’re supposed to have that written in stone by, at the latest, age 10 right? By popular demand most say ICU, ER, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner, Flight Nurse, Surgical Nurse, Trauma Nurse etc, etc. I was apart of that crew, too. But interestingly enough, I never once heard someone willingly say I want to be an ambulatory care nurse, I want to be a home care nurse, or simply just “I don’t know what kind of nurse I want to be”. At the very least most said, I’ll probably go into med/surg first and find my way. Which is GREAT. We need every single one of those nurses. For real. But there are so many avenues of nursing that are unexplored because everyone believes that to be the “best” nurse and to be the “smartest” nurse you have to enter the most PTSD provoking fields and you HAVE to start in the hospital. The opportunities in nursing are endless, and expand far beyond the scope that’s commonly portrayed – but only if you defer from limiting beliefs imposed both upon you and within you.
Maybe I’m getting off track here, here’s my point: NURSING IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL. It takes all kinds of nurses to make the world go ’round. When I said I was leaving the hospital setting, especially the ICU setting, phrases like “well what else are you going to do”, “aren’t you afraid you’re going to lose all of your skills”, and words like “cute”, “boring”, and “easy” were all adjectives thrown at me when I told others the nursing career path I wanted to pursue – from both strangers and genuine, loving friends alike. So naturally, I stopped letting others on my journey with me and decided to discover myself by myself without the opinions and bias’ of others weighing my true desires down. But this nurses week I want to take the time to de-stigmatize within the public and more importantly, within our own field of what makes a “real nurse”.
Every nurse matters. Every nurse is necessary. Every nurse has a calling within the profession. The world of medicine could not function off of one specialty of nursing. And every nurse is a real nurse. So here’s to a real nurse, from a real nurse.
To the fertility nurse who counsels mothers and fathers of all walks of life through their struggles, their options, and both celebrates and grieves a families fate to bring life into the world; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the forensic nurse at the forefront of abuse, neglect, assault, and sexual crimes; who continually manages to put one foot in front of the other even in their walk to the deepest, darkest trenches of human flaw; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the hospice nurse that preserves integrity, respect, and last wishes in those near the end of their life; who relieves pain and suffering and promotes comfort and peace for all in the most uncomfortable of times; who visits with those who are already visiting with past loved ones in a world unknown; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the burn care nurse who endures the pain they ensue during debridements; who councels individuals and their families through a new identity, a new way of life; who offers a comforting touch even when touch is not welcome; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the missionary nurse who lives in a world without walls; who matches each unique physical, emotional, and spiritual need across various cultures, countries, religions, and races; who believes that a world can be lived in without borders, and wellness can be attained even without mainstream resources; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the organ procurement coordinator nurse who works to communicate and coordinate the donation of organs in lost loved ones, both big and small, in the hardest times of a families life; who deals with grief and loss in all of its forms and personalities and still remains patient and optimistic about preserving what’s left of life in death; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the correctional nurse who looks past the history of detainees and inmates; who sees humans for humans and not as a reflection of their actions; who cares for individuals even if those individuals have proven that they don’t necessarily care for others; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the infusion nurse who pokes and prods all access points in people of all ages; who sings a child’s favorite song as chemotherapy infuses; who learns about adults and elders of all ages at battle with a fight no body can fight alone; who finds a way to make medication feel like a miracle regardless of the harsh side effects; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the aesthetic nurse who reminds people how beautiful they are; who allows others to feel beautiful in their own skin; who turns self consciousness into self confidence; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the public health nurse who works in schools, universities, homes, and free clinics; who does a lot for only a little; who prevents, educates, and appreciates all communities of any and every race, age, religion, culture, or economic status; who protects and arms against the status quo; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the military nurse who cares for wounded warriors, veterans, and their families alike; who cares for men and women in both times of war and peace; who leaves their own familiar country to care for others overseas in hardship; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the telephone triage nurse who assesses in such depth they can practically see the patient; who in a conversation helps determine the kind and level of care babies, children, adults, and elders may need; who uses their extensive experience in all walks of nursing practice to help others make some of the most vital decisions in only a matter of minutes; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the occupational health nurse who understand that the association between occupational stress/demands and a persons wellbeing is inevitable; who determines the abilities one has to start their first job, or maybe the limitations that leads to one finalizing their last; who recognizes that professionals need professional help too; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the research nurse that believes there is a better way to do things; who utilizes their expertise and sound judgment to test those potentially better ways; who creates, evaluates, and perfects all in a days work; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the nurse educator with visionary passion for the future of nursing; who possess an inherent kindness, patience, and dedication that cannot be entirely taught; who believe in the power of knowledge but also the force of clinical reasoning bought only through experience; who walks hand in hand with those facing the anxiety and fear that comes with the responsibility of caring for others; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the ER/ICU/Labor and Delivery/Pediatric/OR/NICU/Medical-Surgical/Transplant/Orthopedic/Oncology/Hematology/Geriatric (etc.) nurse who are the frontline caregivers of the hospital; who sacrifice their days, nights, weekends, holidays, and special moments to care for others; who care for individuals and families in their most vulnerable state; who are truly the faces of nursing to the general public; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the flight nurse who has the autonomy of a physician and the skill set beyond that of even the most advanced critical care nurse; who calls the shots within mere moments of meeting their patient; who creates miracles and witnesses deepest despair all within confined corners; who puts their own life on the line each and every call; who holds millions upon trillions of facts and timelines in their brain each flight to relay to the team on ground; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the holistic nurse who believes in the power of mind/body connection; who sees the beauty in both traditional and complementary medicine; who heals the spirit through the body and the body through the spirit; who understands that pain and suffering may come from places no scan can define; you are seen, you are appreciated.
To the ambulatory care nurse, the summer camp nurse, the developmental disability nurse, the infection control nurse, the nurse administrator, the nurse manager, the nurse attorney, the nurse entrepreneur, the rehabilitation nurse, the dermatology nurse, the palliative care nurse, the legal nurse consultant, the nurse practitioner, the nurse anesthetist, the pain management nurse, the plastic surgery nurse, the radiology nurse, the psychiatric nurse, the travel nurse AND SO MANY MORE; you are seen, you are appreciated.
You see, there is always something a nurse can do next. There is always a new skill to be learned and, yes, maybe that is a trade off for a skill already had – but what is the use of a skill if it doesn’t bring fulfillment? “One mans trash is another mans treasure”, so lets not assume any path is easy, boring, or cute by nature. No one role makes one nurse smarter or better than the next. Let’s ease the competition and really truly learn about each other and appreciate one another. I never want to live in a world where every nurse has the same passion and the same vision. We were born to live differently and to care differently and to let our strengths shine bright in whatever setting that may be. Nursing is so cool for the simple fact that there are so many directions one can take – and not one route is easier or better than the next, so go ahead and turn off the GPS.
Every nurse is a real nurse.
To every nurse; you are seen, you are appreciated.
Light & love.