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Today Is... Two Things

Today is National Nurses Day in the U.S.A.; this day starts a week commemorating Nurses, who we are and what we do, and culminates on Florence Nightingale's birthday, May 12. Florence's birthday is also known as International Nurses Day (information about that via the same link above).

My reasons for entering the Profession seemed simple at the time; the shortest path/time between one job through another job to a third job and means to take care of myself. The first job I frequently refer to now as 'Federally Subsidised Tourist' and actually was as U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman. I opted for the short path/time through the second job (Nursing Student) because I could do it, and also (even though it took some time to work through to this realisation) because I like helping people.

In the words of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups, what a long, strange trip it's been. I've lost count of the people I've helped; some stand out in my mind out of the host. Many of them remember me, and I've learned another lesson in that manner, sort of about fandom as it were. There's one of your favorite (writer/actor/artist/musician/InsertRoleHere), but to them, there's thousands, millions of us. They all blur together given enough time, into one amorphous Humanity.

Along the way, it also came clear to me that being a Nurse isn't a job. Oh, sure, we get paid for what we provide, everybody needs to make a living. Being a Nurse is about how we think, and as De Carte said, "I think, therefor I am." We think like Nurses, therefor we are Nurses. Our licenses, while important, merely provide us the legal ability to provide Nursing care. You see the tip of the iceberg when you receive that Nursing care. You don't see the data gathering, the assessment, the planning, the Educated Judgment that took place leading up to the intervention (the Nursing Care you saw). You don't see the thinking.

Leah Curtin, RN is one of my favorite (writer/nurses/artist/teacher). What I said above applies. I've met her, sat with her during lunch and chatted with her, and I doubt she remembers me. There's one of her; I am part of the Amorphous. She speaks at many professional meetings, has been an editor of several Nursing publications and currently is the driving force behind Curtin Calls. You need to go read that, whether you are a nurse or not. One of her common themes in her presentations addresses the word, Professional. What does it mean? Where does the word come from? And her lessons in that presentation led to this.

I Am

One who serves
New-age samurai
Protector of innocents
Defender of the ill and maimed
Torn-spirit healer
Fireman extinguishing
agony’s flames
Sentinel watch-stander
through dark hours
Guiding to health
Guardian of wellness.

Standing in the forum
Before my countrymen, to
I am learnéd in science and skills
I am One Who Serves
I am a Nurse.

September 30, 2002

Oh... and it's also jehannamama's Birthday. She's a retired Nurse. So how cool is that! Happy Birthday, Nurse jehannamama.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for what you do, Tom.
May. 6th, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
I was married on May 12th and graduated from nursing school on my 10th anniversary. I didn't realize it was Flo's birthday at the time, but it's eerily appropriate.

That's a lovely poem. Could I have your permission to share it with my students?
May. 7th, 2007 10:52 am (UTC)
Let me send you copies via E. Still working out how to get a lot of the 'formatting' I put into poetry in HTML. They'll probably be in Rich Text Format, and yes you may share them with your students. My sister does the same with her students in South Dakota.

Now, if I can get them published in say AJN, you could assign them as required reading. *G*
May. 6th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the duplicate entries. LJ acting flaky.
May. 6th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
Happy Nurses DAY TO you,Sir!

How apropos that I should be heading of to work here shortly *LOL* ; P

Sheila in NJ
May. 6th, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
Wow that is a beautiful post... and I get all the way to the end and see my birthday greetings are part of it, in a way!

Yes, it's always been so logical to me that National Nurse's Day is also my birthday. I was always a nurse, in a way... always taking care of, nurturing, focused on healing and herbs and helping. My mother was often ill and I can remember before kindergarden, carrying cold washcloths and bathing her forehead and wrists.

I was surrounded by pets and always checking out books from the library, researching their dietary and care requirements, related medical needs, training methods, and so on.

My mother was a nurse, and I grew up around her textbooks, never squeamish at the thought of scalpels and IVs and bedpans. Later in life she left San Francisco General, where she had been a surgical nurse, to work in small town hospitals. I started going to work with her at a long term care/hospital step-down, after school and on weekends, at the tender age of eleven or so. I'd do homework and then go around and talk to people. I loved the stories. I'd also read to them. Before long, I was filling ice pitchers, feeding people, making beds, learning to place bedpans, helping people walk... there was always so much to do. It never occurred to me not to do it.

So when I got older, I figured I might as well be paid for one of the things that I seemed to always be doing anyway... so I went to nursing school. I loved working in a big teaching hospital. Learning never ceased. There were always wonderful people with interesting stories to tell, who needed teaching and help. I loved going in and doing things that helped them feel better - and maybe helped them live longer, with a better quality of life. Sometimes, of course, I just helped them walk that final path less alone and with as much comfort and compassion as I could offer. I loved my job very much. Not many professions give one the opportunity to give so much, and get so much in return, and still always keep learning and growing.

Your poem says what it is all about, MSB, and beautifully!
May. 6th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Happy Nurses Day!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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