Why do I want to be a nurse.

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I’ve postponed writing this post for weeks, so much has happened and it’s taken me awhile to really sit down and focus. It’s taken me a while to compose my thoughts and orchestrate them into a post. I’ve honestly felt really lost the past few weeks with everything that’s been going on and it’s taken me a bit of time to feel grounded and motivated again.

I wanted to write this in my first year of nursing to see how my views and attitude will change over the next three years and even after I enter the profession.

I chose this path for a reason, I wanted to be part of profession that is well respected and hands-on.  Something that I had a ton of space to grow, whether one day I move into bioethics, policy, or even business management. A job where I would constantly be on my feet and challenged physically, emotionally, mentally, and ethically. I wanted to be part of a profession that sought to make a difference in the lives of people, whether on a small scale (ex. hospital care) or on a large scale (ex. public health or health policy). A job where I would be on my feet, constantly challenged to learn new things and adapt to a constantly changing landscape.

I recognize that nurses are often underrated compared to the prestige of a physician, dentist, or even eye doctor. People always questioned me as to why I chose nursing rather than having to try for medical school. To be honest, I wanted to play a large role in the live’s of my patients. When you listen to the narratives of either the patient or their loved ones, you often hear stories of how the nurse made a difference in caring for their child, parent, grandparent, or friend. How it was the nurse who knew that the patient hates the sight of needles or needs to have their teddy bear whenever a treatment is administered. It’s the nurse that has the time to get to know their patients, to hold their hand when they are alone at night or have no visitors, its the nurse that is at your bedside when you are uncomfortable, and its the nurse who is there to try to boost your spirits when you’re feeling down.

The stories I have heard of coworkers, family, and friends talking about how the nurse made such a difference for them that they developed long-standing relationships with them. Stories of inviting nurses to the wedding of their children whom they cared for during their illness or surgeries. How they still make every effort to keep in touch with the nurse they felt cared so much about them and their loved one that it still positively impacts their lives years later. Seeing how grateful they are for the care and compassion their nurses showed during the long stays in the hospital, often during crucial times, really opened not only my eyes but also my heart. You don’t realize how important having a compassionate and knowledgeable healthcare practitioner is until you need them the most.

We’re there for all the tiny questions people may have. We’re there during the outbreaks of the flu and other infectious disease. We put your lives in front of our own at times because that’s just the type of people we are. We are here for you and will be there for you when you need us even if sometimes it goes beyond what is expected of us.

I realize not every shift is going to be a good shift. There are going to be days when I am so exhausted with my own troubles that I have to put on my best self to care for my patients. That I have to put the needs of my patients above my own even after 3 days of doing 12 hour shifts. But wait, many nights it won’t be the set hours I’m given, I will be there beyond my call because that is what is expected of me and what my patients require from me. There are going to be days when I will breakdown from stress, when I will cry my heart out because I lost a patient who should have lived, someone who was a child or a parent or even a sibling. Days when I feel overwhelmed with everything I have to do, whether it be patients requesting my help, or having to skip my lunch or break to continue charting, or even being there to support a patient who is too scared to go through treatment alone and wanted someone there for them.

There will be times when I have to be the strong one for the patients loved ones as they grieve for their loss or recognize the situation is going downhill. Times when I will have to show the patients loved ones, that I am human too and I grieve with them during these darks times. I am going to have days when I sing to the Lord that a patient miraculously lived, that the patient can walk again, or even for the first time in a long time the patient opened their eyes. How heartwarming it will be to see the patient and their family walk out of the hospital feeling hopeful and on the way to recovery. Or even more exciting seeing a patient walk back into the hospital when at the time it looked like there was no hope for them or even seeing a patient years after they have left my watch. How emotional I will be the first time a patient thanks me for not only being their nurse and helping them get better, but that because of the actions of my team and I, they have renewed faith in our healthcare system.  Times when I will feel angry that my voice was not heard, or that I couldn’t give it my all, or even angry at the patient for choosing a path that went against my own views. How ethically I will be challenged on a continual basis (ex. should a 14 year old get an abortion without their parents knowing? Does this 50 year old chronically and severely depressed patient really want to be euthanized?). There will be days when I feel incompetent at not being able to figure something out and wonder why its not working. How I will spend hours trying to figure out the best practice to help my patients feel better, even though I’m not being paid extra to do so.

Most of all I want every shift that I do to be one where I go out of my way to make my patients feel safe, happy, and comfortable. I want to go home knowing that I did my best, even if sometimes it may not feel like it.

I’m excited to look back and see how my views will constantly change. I know right now I am most interested in maternity nursing, but it will be interesting to see where I end up. Will my path change in that I choose to work internationally? Will I choose emergency medicine, orthotics, community nursing, or geriatrics?

Who knows at this point. What is known is that I am excited to enter this profession and soak up every bit of learning I can in order to make a difference in the lives of my patients and the communities they live in. Let’s see what the next four years bring.