Saturday, January 26, 2013

Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not

Since the blogger website is still giving me a hard time uploading photos, I figured I would post a boring text only entry!

In the last century and a half, the identify of a nurse has been redefined countless times by the media, society, and by nurses themselves. Most television dramas depict us to be absent minded idiots chasing the cute doctors (trust me, most doctors are not that cute). Most of society, including patients, see us as med school drop outs who couldn't cut it as a physician or as the sexy pin up nurses you see at Halloween parties (something many nurses are guilty of perpetuating themselves by dressing that way). It is easy to see why nurses have struggled to cement themselves as educated practitioners with all the stereotypes working against us. I'm not going to say that the role of the nurse has not progressed by leaps and bounds and I'm not going to say that we are never appreciated or respected. In fact, for many years, including this year, nurses were ranked #1 among other professions as the most trustworthy. The only year they were not was in 2001, when firefighters took the number one spot. But, in order to understand how the profession has gotten where it has, a fair evaluation of its past is necessary. I won't bore you with the entire history, just the highlights!

One entire semester of my undergraduate degree was dedicated to the history of nursing. At the time, I didn't absorb much. But since graduating, I've brushed up on my nursing history and now find it interesting. According to legend, the first nurse was Phoebe. Mentioned in Romans 16:1, St. Paul sent Phoebe to Rome to attend to men and women. Although she was the first, Phoebe is not the first nurse that comes to mind for most. Florence Nightingale is without a doubt the most "known" nurse in the profession's history. Considered the founder of modern nursing, in the 1850's Nightingale set out to reform the care of British soldiers after witnessing the horrific conditions in which they were cared for. She determined there were essentials of care that nurses must take into consideration to ensure the health and wellness of patients. She details these "rules" of nursing in her book Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not.

Over the past few months I have been paging through this book in my spare moments. I am surprised how many times Nightingale is spot on in her assessments of nursing care. Many of her insights are still emphasized in practice today. The importance of cleanliness, adequate air exchange in patient rooms, and the influence of sleep on pain perception. Based on her writings, Nightingale was a pistol. On more than one occasion, she refers to doctors as "ill-informed medical men." A woman after my own heart. The thing I find so revolutionary about Nightingale is she speaks of nursing as its own entity. She describes the responsibility of the nurse as something beyond taking and carrying out physician orders. Instead, the knowledge that nurses possessed was something doctors knew nothing of.

Much like the profession of nursing, each individual nurse redefines their idea of a nurse over the course of their career. They make their own list of what a nurse is and what a nurse is not. Traveling has provided me ample opportunity to revise and add to my own list. Here's a few examples from my every growing, constantly changing list.

What a nurse is:
An educated practitioner
Someone with the skills to potentially save a life
The calm before, during and after the storm
A shoulder to cry on/A hand to hold
The person who often saves you from the ignorance of others or, sometimes, yourself
Someone who is taking time away from their own family to take care of yours
Human, they make mistakes too you know

What a nurse is not:
A punching bag
A waitress/concierge/maid/coffee maker
"just" a nurse
prideful/arrogant/boastful (these may be characteristics better labeled as "what a nurse should not be")

Saturday, January 19, 2013


My apologies! I have been working on posting pictures from my December trip to New England on the blog, but the website is having some technical difficulties. I have been unable to upload pictures to my blog posts for the past few weeks. Please bear with me while I try to work on getting new blog entries posted!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What does 2013 have in store?

The New Year is upon us, despite the Myan prediction hooplah. Such is the time for reflections on the past year's events and predictions and hopes for the year in front of us.

New Year's doesn't tend to rank high on my list of celebrated holidays. Maybe its because I don't make resolutions. Perhaps its because as a person in the medical field, holidays tend to take on less significance. They become just another day of work. So, not surprisingly, I worked today! However, I did take some time to think about all the changes in my life over the last year and how significant it has been in who I have become today. It was a year filled with major life changes, new adventures, and new friends.

Last year on New Year's day, I made the decision to become a travel nurse after much deliberation. As I wrote in a previous blog (click here to read), I found reinforcement for my decision in a rather odd place: my 2012 horoscope. I'm a person who rarely reads their horoscope and puts little faith in such things, or at least I didn't until this year. In summary, the prediction for my 2012 year involved a new career that included extensive travel. Crazy accurate, right? So, when I saw the link on my Yahoo home page for my 2013 horoscope, how could I not click?!

What does 2013 have in store for me?
2012 brought a breakthrough or two to your career zone and now in 2013 the restless surge continues. Now that Saturn has finally moved out of your work and health sector for good, you will feel a great weight lift off your shoulders with the burden of daily demands and never-ending deadlines.This is the year to use that restless energy and take a risk to merge your passion and your work. You have been promising yourself for years that you would break out of the comfort of the familiar to pursue something more satisfying on a soul level even if it meant sacrificing the security of a paycheck. Well now is the time, Taurus. With the south node of the Moon pushing you out of the stagnation zone and into new and passionate territory, how can you possibly remain stuck? Something infinitely more gratifying is waiting for you on the other side of your current status quo, it's just up to you to make the leap.
I guess I had best prepare for more changes, new risks to take, and hopefully, even more happiness in 2013. Hopefully this means healing for my back injury and more traveling! I wish you all a healthy, happy new year and that all your dreams for the coming year come true!