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Did you choose nursing to become a hero?

Image: Mimi Haddon | Lifesize Collection | Getty Images

This nurse chose the profession out of deep admiration and respect for his nurse grandmother.

He also wanted, in his own way, to be a hero.

Here, Nurse Brian Pace’s story as told to NPR’s This I Believe:

“Anyone can say they are willing to help people overcome their problems, but do they genuinely care?

I guess it would be safe to say it’s my caring spirit that compelled me to become a nurse.

I care about my wife, my family, and my friends. I want to help them in every possible way, and have always liked helping people overcome their problems. I have been a machinist, a mechanic, and a salesperson. No matter the instance, I would always put more effort into helping someone in those fields more than others seemed to. I take satisfaction in bringing relief to the minds of others; this in turn offers me joy. I want to help by giving them hope.

The term hero is often thought to be related to comic books and fictional characters. This is not an absurd relation to the term but remains symbolic in the eyes of most. The world is full of heroes and we need them all. I am a very independent, strong-willed person often referred to as stubborn. However, I am not afraid to admit there have been plenty of times in my life when I have needed a hero to save me.

When I was about five, my mother took me to visit my grandmother at work. She was a nurse at convalescent home in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I loved my grandmother deeply, but when I first saw her in uniform, it told me there was more to her than I was seeing. From that point on I was intrigued with what she did, but never really curious. I just thought the nurse’s uniform explained why she was such a great person, yet a powerful and respected individual. Little did I know that the respect she earned from me and everyone else was because of her mind and her heart. Throughout my life she has inspired me in ways that I found hard to explain until now. I believe she was a hero, and I believe I can be a hero too.

I am now 33 and have experienced a lot through the years. I am married to my second wife Melissa and we have a total of six children, at times it seems like we have our own elementary school and it can be very hectic. My wife also suffers from a seizure disorder. As if our lives weren’t complex enough, a major medical problem can have a profound effect on everything. The first several times I saw her go through this, it broke my heart. I cried and struggled with the reality of it all. I was helpless. Helpless is not a position I enjoy being in, nor does anyone else.

Without regard for myself, I had to carry on and try my absolute best to help my wife. I had to find out what she was going through and why she was going through it. I would do anything to help her overcome this. She’s had this condition for about three years now and it’s become a constant struggle. As a result, I have studied neurology, epilepsy, and pharmacology just to have a handle on what is best for her. I have learned a great deal about things that would otherwise be foreign to me and never thought the day would come when I would need to use that kind of knowledge. I have experienced a lot with her and have tried without recourse to help her get better. In doing this, I have learned that sometimes we have to be patient and let modern medicine do its job, but I have also learned the hero’s position in all of this.

I believe I can make a difference in her life medically, as well as in the lives of others. Having been in some of the worst scenarios I can recall, I know what it means to have a shining light through the darkness. Having at least one glimmer of hope can mean the difference in life, death, or keeping up the fight to survive. I want to give people that hope. I want them to know that things can and will get better. If I can be someone to believe in for other people, then I will truly have a purpose in this world.”

“To Become a Hero,” Copyright © 2009 by Brian Pace. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at www.thisibelieve.org, Copyright © 2005-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Did you become a nurse out of a desire to be a hero? To be an angel? Or are these myths about nursing that you’d rather dispel?

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This I Believe

Based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, This I Believe® is an exciting national project that invites you to write about the core beliefs that guide your daily life. The series has enjoyed a four year run on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Visit the special "Scrubs Magazine Reader Submission Form" on the This I Believe website to contribute your own essay. Essays by Scrubs Magazine readers could be featured on both This I Believe and on Scrubs Magazine!
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3 Responses to Did you choose nursing to become a hero?

  1. Nurse Rene RN

    ANYONE who willingly walks into ‘harms’ way’ to help another, whether it be a fire, disease process or collapsed building is a HERO.
    Whether one does this consciously or without really thinking-just because you are trained for it doesn’t really matter.
    Heroes go TOWARD the danger. They do not run away from it.

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  3. Ivy RN

    I became a nurse to be a hero in big ways: twenty years ago, I reveled in life-and-death situations: Codes; rapid responses; touch-and-go shifts in the ICU. These days, older and wiser, I realized it’s just as valuable to be a hero in small, everyday ways. The nurse who spoons ice chips into a parched mouth is all the hero a patient needs in that moment. That matters to me now in a way I couldn’t have understood two decades ago.

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