When someone decides to enter the nursing profession, it means they choose to help people who are in need. However, the roles and responsibilities of nurses today are growing within the healthcare system. Will this impact the importance of nurses in the community?
Here is an anecdote that helped answer that question for me:
As I was leaving the hospital recently after a late day of meetings, crossing the parking deck coming in my direction was an elderly man with a very tired look on his face. Under his right arm was a long cardboard box with the words 1-800-flowers on the side.
In that moment, I was struck by the humanity and personal challenges that all of our patients and their loved ones face. This gentleman was visiting someone he loved, perhaps a wife, perhaps an older child, perhaps a sibling. But regardless, the look on his face was one of concern and sorrow. As I passed him, I said hello and wished him a good day. He gave me a little smile which quickly dissolved as he headed toward the front entrance of the hospital.
Breaking Free from the Routine
I realized at that point how much of our work becomes just our routine work, how much of the pain and sorrow becomes routine. I felt somewhat guilty that I was leaving the hospital to teach an aerobics class and then spend the rest of my evening with my family, while others suffered so much.
I also realized the worth of nurses to the community. We are the human component in the healthcare delivery system, uniquely prepared to reach out to those in need. We fill the void of human caring created by clinical environments. We, as nurses, can never let go of that awesome responsibility that we share.
As the most trusted profession in the world, it is our calling to be there for those in pain and suffering, those in fear and those that are moving on to worlds beyond us. It struck me that it is also critically important that we, as nurses, never allow ourselves to become hardened to those who need us so much. What a waste it would be to miss an opportunity to emotionally be in the moment and reach out and help those we serve.
A Nurse’s Responsibility
Take a moment to reflect on your role as a nurse and the importance you play in the community. Relive those special moments when you realized a difference and the satisfaction that you felt knowing you were able to help. It is an honor and a privilege to serve in the capacity that we do and to possess the skills that are so uniquely nursing.
We may have times that we are tired, drained, frustrated and disillusioned with our profession, but the greater good of what we do and who we serve far outweighs the episodic challenges. I am grateful every day that I am a nurse. Despite the challenges, I would never want to go through life as anything else. As part of the nursing community, let us value our existence to make a difference in our patients.