Proud to be a Nurse
What does that really mean to someone just graduating from nursing and starting their career? On the heels of National Nurses Week I had the opportunity to reflect on exactly that question.
As I saw many people post their grad pics on social media (myself included) to showcase our legitimacy and how fewer grey hairs we had back then, I find myself reflecting on what I have seen, done and how I have made an impact on many peoples’ lives, most of whom I’ll never see again.
From the very first non-family member I cared for, I knew that my career path was special and I could make a difference every day. As a nurse, I get to see you at your best and your worst, and you allow me to. This is such a privilege. You leave your health and well-being up to me, without means or evidence that you should trust me. Nobody else trusts me 100% without knowing me. I don’t take this trust for granted.
Yes, this career does come with weekends, holidays, NIGHT shifts, and I mean ALL NIGHT. Healthcare is 24/7, 365 days a year. There have been countless family gatherings and holidays that I have had to leave early from or arrive late to. School performances and BFFs birthday parties I have had to miss. But I know I can make time to be with family and friends and make those moments special on another weekend. Instead I got to make a difference for the patient having a Christmas Day heart attack who was “scared to die”, or the highway accident patient crying in pain due to several broken bones from bad roads, and countless others. I got to reassure, treat and ease the fear and uncertainty the patient was dealing with. I had the honour of answering their questions, gently holding their hand, and reminding them that I was there to help them through this terrible moment.
Giving at work and then having to give to the rest of the roles and identities we have at home or within our community takes strategic planning, asking for help and knowing when your cup is empty and needs to be refilled. Is there ever really work-life balance? Some say yes, some say no.
I believe at times there are different demands from either side of the coin and navigating which side of the coin is in need is where the mastery and the mess takes place.
Giving up family and BFF time to make a difference with strangers isn’t what I originally signed up for, I don’t believe, but now it’s just part of what I do as a nurse. When I think about being in nursing for 30 years and all the impact I’ve been able to make, I can honestly say it only feels like 10. I thank my Mother who showed me what true compassion and empathy was. She was a nurse as well who demonstrated empathy, love and non-judgement and treated every single patient she cared for like they were her own family member. I would never consider doing anything else.