A couple of years ago, my dad was getting ready to move, and so he needed to go through all the stuff our family had collected over the twenty years or so that we had lived in that house. I came across a pile of mementos from my grade eight graduation. One of the things our teachers had done for us graduates was ask the younger kids what they thought we would be when we grew up. When asked about me, one of the children had responded with ‘pediatrician’- ooh, so close, kid! I am not a pediatrician, and though I have nothing but respect and admiration for the many pediatricians I know and work with, I would not want to be one. Because I am a nurse.
To me, and to many of my colleagues, nursing is not just a job. It is not just a profession. It is a calling. It is part of who you are at your very core. I did not get into nursing for glory or for money. I did it because I felt called to it.
I think I first realized I wanted to be a nurse when I listened to my sister’s stories about nursing school. Something deep inside me said, “You would be good at that. You should be a nurse.” But I was too scared to listen to that voice at that time.
A short while later, my mom’s health went into steep decline. She spent years in and out of hospital. In all that time, as much as I appreciated the care she received from the physicians on her health care team, I could see that it was the nurses who had the most impact on her health and on her quality of life. They were the ones who made sure she got her showers or bed baths (my mom adored her showers and hated to go more than a day without bathing). They made sure her medications were tailored to reflect the latest lab results. They talked to her and to us and they listened and they advocated. One of my mom’s good friends, Lise, was a nurse, and she went above and beyond the call of duty by coming to our house to my mom’s bloodwork so that Mom wouldn’t have to venture out to a lab- an outing that could take her days to recover from. Lise did that, not just because she was Mom’s friend, but because that is what nurses do.
Over the years, as I saw, time and time again, the positive impact that nurses had on my mom and our family, that voice inside me got louder and more insistent until I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore- I applied to a nursing program and I am now living my dream- truly, I am. I wish my mom had lived to see my graduate, but I feel her presence with me, and I know she would be happy and proud.
Nursing is not glamorous. There are no red carpets, unless you count sheets stained with the blood of the patient who fought you like crazy when you were inserting their IV. There are no fans clamouring for autographs, only patients asking for help. There are no endorsement deals, just overtime because you cared for an acutely ill patient and supported their family. And I love it, because I am a nurse.