I had a student nurse ask me a couple of months ago, “So why did you become a nurse?”. The answer was simple: I watched nurses provide great care to my Nana while she was receiving hospice care and knew in an instant that’s what I wanted out life: caring for those who need it most. But the job is extremely tiring and definitely comes with it’s challenges, and lately I’ve been wondering to myself, “Why in the world do you still do this to yourself?”.
First of all, let me tell you something. Our hospital has been working at max capacity for a year now and people are SICK. Buddy boy that has its own challenges. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not feeling well I’m not the most pleasant person to be around. Patients are the same way. Plus, you are there in your nursing profession to take care of them so they expect nice plus more. Cool, I get it. What about family members watching their loved ones suffer? Usually not the most pleasant person to be around. And going back to us working at max capacity, they’ve been waiting a long time for a bed on the floor because let’s face it, the ER isn’t a fun place to spend your time as a patient. So you take into consideration that we are dealing with sick people and their loved ones who aren’t in their normal state of mind because they aren’t currently normal, we work long hours on our feet, we deal with multiple disciplines within the hospital all trying to work together for one goal, we deal with sometimes faulty machinery because we live in a technology world and it’s not always perfect, we deal with shifts that aren’t always fully staffed and are expected to perform at a normal nurse/patient ratio, we deal with violent patients that are completely out of their minds, we deal with bodily fluids that are not ours and act like it’s completely normal, the list goes on and on for forever and an eternity. WHY DO I DO IT?
I’ve ridden on top of a bed while transferring a patient to the unit so I could “bag” them because they weren’t breathing.
I’ve performed chest compressions on several people because their hearts stopped beating.
I’ve held the hand of a dying man that was yelling out for Jesus because he had no family.
I’ve done post-mortem care on patients because it’s uneasy to some people.
I’ve cried with a patient and held them in my arms praying over them after finding out they had terminal cancer.
I’ve had my arm covered in someone else’s blood because they began bleeding out after surgery and needed pressure held until the surgeon arrived.
I’ve performed the Heimlich on a choking patient with a room full of scared family members watching.
I’ve cared for a demented patient’s broken limbs, bruised body, and broken down skin after their own daughter abused them and let them sleep on a crate covered in their own bodily fluids.
I’ve cared for patients whose family members aren’t ready to let go and are prolonging life when at times it doesn’t seem fair.
I’ve cared for a cannibal in four-point restraints and treated him with as much dignity as the person next door.
WHY DO I DO IT?
It’s not a question really of why do I do it. It’s a question of why do WE do it? Because all of those things I mentioned earlier could not be done if I didn’t work with the people I work with. WE do it because we work with a great team who love and support each on a daily basis. WE do it because we love and care for people. WE do it because when our time comes and we need someone, we want someone that loves and cares for us. WE do it because even if we haven’t made a difference in your life, you’ve made one in ours. WE do it because we are nurses and that’s just what we do.