Want to be a Nurse

Reflection on Nursing

Have you ever answered a question automatically and then wondered where that came from or  worse, why you said it?nurse, occupational health nurse

That happened to me today.  A dear friend, having a hard time at work, asked me for career advice.  Knowing I am a nurse she asked….

‘Hey Jane, I want a different career’

‘Really! How exciting – what are you thinking? Computers, pilot, social work, bank manager, venture capitalist?’

‘What’s it like being a nurse?’

‘A nurse, are you mad?  No way.  Doctors tell you what to do after you’ve trained them how to do it themselves.  Hand washing galore.  Everyone telling you about their illnesses in the pub.  Always trying to stick to the rules…., trying to please everyone’

‘But you’re a nurse – you love it. I see what you do, how you are’

‘Do I? Well I suppose I do but I don’t work in a hospital anymore and that is where you’ll have to work.  Do you want to work nights and evenings?  And you’re older – its difficult when you have to take orders from prats.  When I was young, I was the prat.  Not sure I could do it again at my age. The politics would get to me.  I’d want to run the place’

‘But people love nurses – and I’d always have a job.  I like people, good salary, pension, loads of holidays, career progression – why not?’

‘Because you are bright enough to be a doctor, you have a degree already, you’re clever, academic.  Don’t waste all that on being a nurse.  The only people who love nurses are their mums and patients – but that is a given.  We’re not special, we can’t diagnose or give out medicines, its depressing, we are not listened to.

Nurses are a cliché, I wail. It’s a women’s role thing in a liberated world’.

‘That’s a no to being a nurse then – straight from the horses mouth?’

Nurse Station Stop

And much later I wondered if it were true?  Was it a no?

Episodes from my career came back to me – nursing Baby Miles (not his real name) who I’d ‘specialled’ all night in ’73, brain-damaged from catching measles in the womb, three months old, teeny tiny little thing hanging on to life, was probably blind, in renal failure, abandoned by his young parents, so very sick.  I nursed Baby Miles for 10 long nights. Just me and him mostly.  I tended his tubes and his dialysis, I fed him, talked to him and drew his picture and I cried when I aspirated blood from his naso gastric tube.  He died the day after I finished my last duty shift when I was sleeping at home.

The youngsters who’d stood before me shaking with guilt and fear in the STD clinic who looked to me for support; those who could not walk from severe genital herpes or massive warts resembling cauliflower heads.  I really helped those.

And the patients at home, multiple sclerosis, dementia, cancers, families struggling to cope and those who just didn’t have any one else.  Deeply disturbing and demanding.  Enriching and uplifting.  Funny and tragic.

Or the coming together for life and death drama’s that bind us nurses closely like soldiers in war.  Things not said yet understood.  The sense of humour.  The common ground.  The knowledge of life at its most basic and intimate level.  Stuff nurses don’t dwell on but we have all seen. A sense of compassion.  A sense of deep fulfillment.

[Tweet “‘I done some real good today’. Can everyone say that?”]

Wait! You’re right I love being a nurse.  But to talk about reasons takes time, quietness and calm; and not what my friend has to give right now.     I know that because, well because I am a nurse and that’s what we do best.

If you are my friend reading this, I hope it helps with your choices.

Let me know…….

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