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Once a Nurse, Always a Nurse

Two healthcare colleagues talking on the stairs at hospital
Two healthcare colleagues talking on the stairs at hospital

If a nurse declines to do these kinds of things for her patient, because 'it is not her business,' I should say that nursing was not her calling.” - Florence Nightingale

Why did you become a nurse? I have been asked this question countless times over the span of my career. It certainly isn’t a glamorous profession, not something you enter into because it has great pay and even greater hours. The work is hard, emotionally and physically draining. You often work nights, weekends, holidays…. So why do it?

You do it because you have the drive to help others. Nurses help people. It’s that simple.

As a child I watched my favorite aunt care for patients as a pediatric nurse; she still does. I thought she was on par with a superhero, and I knew then that when I grew up, I wanted to do what she did. I graduated with a BSN from Northeastern University and have been proud to call myself a nurse for the past 19 years.

Nursing is an incredibly versatile career, and I have taken advantage of this to the utmost. I have had the privilege of caring for patients in the most complex of settings, in a surgical trauma intensive care unit, as well as the more laid-back holistic environment of home care. The one common thread across each of these roles was my ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Nurses are an essential part of the decision-making process, not just at the bedside, but throughout the health system. I no longer care for patients at the bedside, but instead advocate for patient care from the corporate side. In the context of U.S. healthcare reform, it is more important now than ever for nurses to band together and empower each other to provide the best experience and outcomes possible.

No matter what road nurses choose, whether it’s providing care at the bedside, executive leadership in a hospital, teaching, mentoring, or providing subject matter expertise in a corporate environment, one thing remains true for all of us: we spend our lives giving back.

We recognize nurses this week, but we should recognize them every day of the year. Be sure to thank a nurse today!