Why I am a nurse
By Lynda Stoodley
I have been asked many times throughout my 27-year nursing career, “Why are you a nurse?” This question seems to comes up more frequently at this time a year when we celebrate Nurses Week. The first day of the week starts on the birthday of one of the most famous nurses, Florence Nightingale, who pioneered the modern era of nursing.
My answer is the same as many nurses throughout the world, “I became a nurse because I wanted to help people.” But this is a very broad vague answer that needs further explanation and detail. Using Florence’s name, I want to expand on this not so simple answer by describing the attributes of nurses and shedding light on nursing and what helping people in this capacity really means.
Fortunate – Nurses are very fortunate to be with patients at the most vulnerable periods of their patients lives, such as at birth and at death. We are able to comfort the dying and celebrate the new life. What an honor it is to be present in both of these types of situations.
Lifelong – We are lifelong learners, continually expanding our skill sets as we seek new and better treatments for our patients as we strive continually to improve our patient’s lives.
Observant – Nurses continually observe and monitor their patient’s vital signs, physiological and psychological statuses, and overall well-being. The changes in a patient are often very subtle and require an astute, observant nurse who is ready to intervene on behalf of the patient in a multitude of situations, including emergency conditions or when emotional distress sets in. Nurses remain alert and vigilant as they watch over their patients.
Resourceful – Nurses can be very resourceful in providing patients with what they need, sometimes in the settings of limited supplies, but the creative nurse will figure out how to get the patient what is necessary for healing, comfort, or stability.
Empathic – Being empathic is at the core of every nurse. Empathy helps the nurse to understand their patient’s experience which allows for an individualized approach to care that is meaningful for that particular patient. Without empathy, patient healing, stability, and comfort is much less likely to occur.
Nonjudgmental – It does not matter if the patient is poor, a criminal, contagious, from a different culture or belligerent, a nurse will care for them always. Judgment is removed as the nurse only sees a human that needs help.
Compassionate – Nursing can not be described without the word compassionate. Showing concern for patients is an integral part of nursing. Nurses are by the sides of patients as they have uncontrollable pain, are dying, terrified because of a prognosis, or suffering and many times the only thing the nurse can do is be present and just hold the patient’s hands. The compassion the nurse feels will not allow him/her to leave that patient’s side, not even for a second.
Extraordinary – Nurses are without a doubt extraordinary!
I hope I have clarified why I am a nurse. I am a nurse because I am privileged to help people as described above and honored to be in a profession where I work side by side with extraordinary nurses everyday who just want to help people. I am a nurse because I, too, just want to help people.
About the author
Lynda Stoodley is a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and the former director of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care DNP program at Brandman University where she was also an assistant professor in the Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. Her nursing experience includes being a nurse practitioner (NP) caring for cardiothoracic surgery patients. She also holds post-doctoral certifications in adult-gerontology acute nursing care (AGACNP-BC) and primary care (AGPCNP-BE).
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