Forty one years ago I, too, had family who were unhappy when I decided to become a nurse after a six week hospitalization for injuries from a car accident. They would say, “You’re smart enough to be a doctor.”
This was the response that worked for me: ‘I don’t want to be a doctor. If I wanted to, I would. I want to be a nurse. After my accident, the doctors diagnosed and treated my broken bones. I saw them for five minutes a day. The nurses at my bedside 24/7 got me through my health crisis and rehabilitated me back into a functioning human being. That’s what I want to do for others.”
I now know my explanation of nursing was a bit simplistic. Today I would quote the Royal College of Nursing’s definition of nursing: “Nursing is the use of clinical judgement in the provision of care to enable people to improve, maintain or recover health, to cope with health problems and to achieve the best possible quality of life, whatever their disease of disability, until death.”
We often say that nurses need to have empathy. What we don’t talk enough about is that nurses need to be smart. Nurses must possess much knowledge and learn many complex skills. Nurses at the bedside catch critical changes in their patients and take immediate action to save lives. Nurses prevent complications. Nurses teach people how to take care of themselves. Nurses give emotional support. Nurses coordinate care so that people receive the highest quality medical and nursing care. If you or a loved one are a patient in a hospital or other health care facility, you better hope that the nurses who are responsible for your care know what they are doing.
And what profession do you suppose, Americans believe have the highest ethical standards? Since 2005 according Gallup’s annual poll, over 80% of Americans have listed nursing as the most trustworthy profession.
Congratulations on being at the top of your nursing class. You should be proud. I can’t wait to welcome you to the nursing profession. Seek out other nurses and nursing organizations for support. Feel free to contact me at www.nancybanfieldjohnson.com.