I am a nurse. I still define myself as a nurse, even though I have not tended to a patient in that role for many years. I renew my license every two years (just in case this consulting gig doesn't work out), and I still think like a nurse in terms of how I assess nearly all situations: What is the problem, what are the contributing factors, and what are the options for solutions? What action is the best for all concerned, and how can I protect the dignity of the patient (or in my case, my client), while respecting their choices and decisions, and hold in confidence all information entrusted to me?
This is the one week a year we set aside to acknowledge the women and men who accept the (updated) version of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, which says in part, "I...pledge to care for the sick with all my skill and the understanding I possess, without regard to race, creed, color, politics or social status, sparing no effort to preserve quality of life, alleviate suffering and to promote health as affirmed by the person".
How many of us have had a nurse make a difference in our lives? How many of us can recall the name of the nurse that eased our suffering by listening to our fears? Who stood by us as a physician shared difficult news? Who changed a dressing on a wound, or recognized when something was not quite right and saved a life?
Recently I had the privilege of participating in the University of Florida College of Nursing Pinning Ceremony as part of the commencement events. There is a long tradition of wearing a pin or insignia to identify a healer; think of the red cross that signifies aid to those in need. The Pinning Ceremony is a dignified affair, except for the year I received mine. As we were about to go on stage and be pinned by our Dean, a young woman wearing nothing more than a stocking over her head and a nurse’s cap streaked past the audience in front of all of us and out the door. That was the only thing my father remembered about my dignified ceremony!
As a double graduate of UF College of Nursing, it was especially poignant for me to be on the stage looking out at those 120 fresh faces, new nurses who were embarking on a career of service to others. I was moved by the memories of how my life was molded by my decision to become a nurse and how many choices opened up to me as a result of that education.
I looked at each face and wondered where their decisions would lead them; what great and small things they would do to serve humanity. My heart swelled with hope and pride for this new generation of nurses who will contribute to the reinvention of healthcare and continue to serve humanity. I am honored to be a part of a sisterhood that is as old as the ages, and which continues to look to the future to "alleviate suffering and promote health".
Happy Nurses Week!