Saturday, February 09, 2013

On Being a Nurser

Not long ago Cordelia said that when she grows up she wants to be a "nurser like Grandma". Isn't that sweet? At her preschool recently a little friend had a tummy ache and the teacher asked the little girl if she wanted them to call her grandma. I guess that is the person who picks her up. Anyway, Cordy piped up, "No! Call my grandma! She's a nurse."  Aaaaah. I like that.

I started thinking, though, would that be my first choice of profession for Cordelia? I'm still pondering that question. I don't think I ever encouraged my own children to go into nursing. There are definitely pros and cons involved with nursing as a career.



There are a lot of careers that do not require overnight shifts or 12+ hour shifts on your feet. Jobs abound that do not require cleaning up diarrhea, vomit, blood or snot (my area of weakness). A lot of professions do not involve lifting heavy people up off the floor when they've fallen, calming frightened people who blame you for their misery or exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals such as chemotherapy. Many jobs don't demand such frequent hand-washing that your hands are rough or maybe even cracked and bleeding before you go home. Some professions do not regularly expose you to HIV, MRSA, hepatitis or a plethora of other diseases. I have personally suffered from Clostridium Difficile and Enterobacter cloacae (not your garden variety) of pneumonia, both acquired as a result of my nursing work.

HOWEVER...

Many careers do not offer an opportunity to see a frightened patient relax because you were able to calm some of their fears. Many people aren't in a position to see the courage and determination I've seen in people facing life-threatening illness. Nurses can find themselves comforting the newly diagnosed and encouraging family members to be the best version of themselves to help their loved one. I have been present for births and I have held the hand of a person leaving this world. Nurses can serve as comforter, problem solver, reliever of pain, nerve-calmer, massage-giver, health educator, and yes... friend.

One of my fellow RN's just this last week told me that "RN" stood for refreshments and narcotics, referring to the fact that in many ways a nurse serves somewhat as a waitress. It's true! Nursing is most definitely a career of serving as needed. I laughed at her statement but as I pondered it I realized it pretty well told the story of nursing. We try to provide whatever is needed at the moment. I've probably delivered almost as much coffee and demerol.

So, would I be pleased if Cordelia really did grow up to be a nurse? Well, only if it is truly her dream. It is a very demanding type of work with a lot of cons. Just the same, I've had some of my most powerful moments as an RN. I've learned more than I've taught and received more than I've given. I am very grateful that I've been able to follow MY dream. I am pleased if my children and grandchildren have the opportunity to discover and follow their own dreams.