Qualities of a Nurse SharkAll nurses know it's a calling. Above all the challenges, nursing is considered as the most trusted profession because we don't just consider it as a job. We are drawn to nursing because we have our own purpose: to care, to support others who are in need, to serve and to help.

A few years ago I attended a writing and speaking workshop in Cancun. (I know, I know, a tough place to play, err, I mean, stay.) On a free afternoon, I went to a marina where I put my hand in a pool to touch a stingray, a turtle and a shark! Not just any shark, the guide explained, but a nurse shark. 

Nurse?! I silently fumed. Why would they name a vicious, man-eating creature “nurse?”

The guide must have felt my feathers ruffling as he explained. “Most sharks take water in through their gills to move and propel themselves. The qualities of a nurse sharks do not require this and therefore they can lie sluggishly on the bottom of the ocean. When sharks and other ocean-living creatures are injured or ill, they descend to the bottom to die. The nurse shark swims under them and lifts them up to the surface where they can breathe and live again.”

By now, I was beaming with pride for my “fellow" nurse sharks and my buttons popped when he pointed to the dolphins in an adjacent tank. He told how one of the three did not adapt well during the transition from the ocean to the tank. In spite of all efforts from the expert staff, the dolphin sank repeatedly to the bottom. The nurse shark swam under it and lifted it over and over again until it recovered and swam playfully with the others.

“Isn’t that just like a professional nurse,” I said as I affectionately pet my new fish-friend. 

All nurses “lift” patients and families every day. We can do that more for our colleagues. By “lifting” each other, we can help one another stay positive and work efficiently. We can help each other stay in this honorable profession longer (and happier!) which will not only ease the nursing shortage, but improve the care for patients—and isn’t that what we’re all about?