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Why nurses really do what they do

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As National Nurses Week swings around yet again, one expects to feel appreciated in some way. For some of us, it means a free meal in the cafeteria, a gift with the hospital logo on it or a “Happy Nurses Week” ad in the paper. Administrators and management smiling at you for a change…

For most of us, the one week observance is quaint and expected, while at the same time feels a bit awkward given all of the “niceness” that seems to pop-up and, just as quickly, disappear when the week is over.

But what about the REST of the year?

Most hardcore clinicians, myself included, will tell you that the much-hyped appreciation of Nurses Week does little to make them feel valued. Let’s face it: We chose a very difficult career that’s hard on the body and the soul. Relationships suffer and we have anything BUT normal work schedules. How many times have we heard someone say: “I don’t know HOW you do it–I could NEVER be a nurse!”

Nurses can tell you true stories that are so amazing, wild, incredible and ridiculous that no one could possibly make them up. No fiction writer could imagine the things we see and do on a regular basis. No movie or TV show can come close to the reality of life nurses know.

We are the ones who are privileged to be present at all stages of the lifespan. To be there for families when they experience joy as well as tragedy. To be willing and able to break the rules for the sake of making our patients’ quality of life better, even if just for a few hours.

Nurses make a difference…for somebody, in some place, at some point in their life’s journey.

Whether it is in a modern hospital, on vacation, in a shack with no supplies or running water, in a desert aid station, on a ship, in a POW or concentration camp, on board a jetliner over the ocean, in a rural health clinic, or (fill in your own blank space) wherever there are human beings in need, there have been and always will be nurses.

Doing the work. Making it better. Every hour of every day. 52 weeks a year.

Knowing that we made a difference at the end of the shift just by being there for someone.

And THAT is why we do what we do!

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched–they must be felt with the heart (Helen Keller).

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Nurse Rene

Nurse Rene has been an RN since 1978; CCRN since 1989 and attained a BSN in 2010. She has worked in virtually every specialty from Neonatology to Neurosurgery and is a Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society with a particular interest in helping students and new grads develop to their full potential. She's been married for 33 years and has a keen interest in history and in current issues as nursing continues to develop as a Real Profession. When not spoiling the grandchildren, she enjoys sewing, cooking, kayaking, camping and travel. She likes all music which does not hurt her ears, watching NCIS, Leverage, Top Gear and Criminal Minds and reads books written by Clive Cussler, Miss Manners, Erma Bombeck and Tom Clancy. She enjoys collecting Quotations for use in her writings.
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2 Responses to Why nurses really do what they do

  1. Abby Student

    Before I began the clinical component of my program, I was hospitalized for falls. It was a minor thing, but because I was falling, I was put on bedrest. I have to say, that I really appreciate the special nurses, techs, medical imaging, and ancillary staff who put their all to make me comfortable and help me in the difficulties of hospitalization. To all you nursing staff out there, you have been an inspiration for this nursing student. I have a different understanding for the role you, and one day I will, play in the overall healing of the patient. I hope I make you proud!

    • Nurse Rene RN

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Abby! All the best to you in school and in your career. Remember that you Make A Difference just by ‘being there’ for someone.

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