Did you read it? — “Unapologetically a nurse”
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How does the phrase “angels in uniform” make you feel? Proud? Appreciated? Misunderstood?
In a recent piece published by The Huffington Post, one nurse rejects the term “angel,” along with the faultless, pure and obedient typecast that such a weighty comparison entails.
Read on to discover why the article’s author believes that shedding the role of angels is the best, and perhaps the only way to help non-nurses understand, and therefor more accurately respect, the work that nurses really do:
I’m No Angel
I sit here starting at a blank computer screen, filled with quiet concern. It’s simply that I have so many things to say to about the nineteen million and counting nurses across the planet, and not enough time in the world to say it.
The author does, however, move toward something very specific and important that she has to say about herself and her fellow nurses.
Nurses, she says, are not angels placed on earth to serve, as they are so often thought to be.
We are not diminutive and submissive and gentle souls that kiss boo-boos. We are not the starched white caps and perfectly polished shoes that history books portray. Nor are we fishnet stockings and naughty rendezvous in dark corners. We have been glamorized and fetishized and placed on a pedestal unlike any other profession, and yet the definition of what we are is only surpassed by the list of what we are not.
Our Dirty Little Secret
Many will never understand the extent of what we do every single shift.
And here’s why:
None of them are in on our secret. Patients and families; husbands and wives; parents and children and colleagues and friends: because while they try, they will never understand the depth and breadth of mind and body required of a nurse.
And yet those who are in on the secret, or at least are suspicious of it, understand that it was no miracle that saved your loved one. Rather, it was the intent and vigilant care of a critically thinking, intuitive and fiercely devoted nurse.
Yet here we are, with our dirty little secret: our filthy mouths; our dark humor and sarcastic sensibilities; snarky and sassy and smart—can you sense that?
We Are Human
We are human. We make mistakes. We pick fights. We become emotional. And we must. Because every single day we grapple with our own identities, not only as men and women, but also as nurses—defined by a role that we wear as a badge of honor, yet has the potential to become a Scarlet Letter.
We are in a constant state of battle: with the establishment; with disease; with matters of life and death; with our coworkers and our families and ourselves.
Every day, nurses are stretched to their utmost physical, mental and emotional capacities. And while the sheer breadth of all that a nurse can (and is willing) to give is remarkable…
We are human. We are not infallible. We drink too much. We smoke too much. We eat candy bars for dinner.
But the most important thing to remember is that nursing is a demanding, sometimes ruthless world that’s peppered with just as many losses and sacrifices as it is victories. And so:
Take us as we are, all of us—the beauty, the burdens—every ounce of us, because we did not choose to be this way. Somehow, even if you fight against it, becoming a nurse will find you. It will seep into the marrow of your bones. It will sink into your soul. You will sacrifice parts of your own being to protect perfect strangers, and it will feel like a totally rational thing to do.
Thus, the article comes to a final, powerful statement:
I border on crazy. I’m slightly irrational. I’m absolutely neurotic. I’m completely invested. I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m a daughter. I’m a friend. But through it all, I am unapologetically a nurse.
Interested in reading more? We don’t blame you—you can find the article in its entirety here. Then, tell us—how do you want to be remembered? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!