Is Nursing a Calling or a Profession?

"Why do you want to be a nurse?" - that is about the most common question asked to a nursing student. 

So here is a post about why I wanted to be a nurse and what nurses even do, because let me tell you that the general public has no idea.

When I was sixteen my grandmother was sent home on hospice to spend her last days at home. She was dying from metastasized cancer. Because she was on hospice, a nurse would come by daily to administer her medication. On one occasion, the dose of Morphine administered was enough to sedate my grandmother through the whole day. Because of the medication, my grandmother could only moan in response when spoken to her. Her spirit was there, but her body was too weak to physically move.

At the young age of sixteen I though the nurse had accidentally administered too much Morphine and I though the language barrier played a part in this incident. So I wanted to be an advocate for my future patients, I wanted to bridge the gap between language and healthcare (because less than 3% of nurses are Latino/a! ).

Fast forward seven years later, my reason for wanting to be a nurse has dramatically changed. 

I now know that the nurse taking care of my grandmother that day was administering the dose of Morphine to help my grandmother, not harm her. After all, the goal of hospice isn't to cure people, but to make them as comfortable as possible in their declining health status- even if it means quickening death. (For example, if somebody is in major pain the nurse will give morphine even if it decreases respiration).

Nurses.... they're just.... amazing. 

Honestly, I never knew the amount of knowledge they held, and most people don't know either.
Nurses have this....this.... ability, to look an an individual and look at the whole picture. Not just the illness.

You see, nurses aren't just giving meds and cleaning up bodily fluids all day. They are a mix of a medical professional and a counselor - a constant listening ear. 

Nurses witness individuals taking their first breath, and their last. 
And let me tell you this, if you are ever hospitalized you will see nurses more than any other medical professional. 

When a patient suddently gets worse or needs a new medication, the nurse is the one who calls the doctor, and often times makes suggestions on the treatment they may need.

We are told in nursing school that we are "the last line of defense". What does that mean? Well, if for some reason there is a wrong medication/s (or dose) in a patient's chart, the nurse is the last to see it and verify it before it gets to them. So yes, nurses are highly trained medical professionals. They aid in life or death situations, and are trained to notice possible problems early on to prevent complications.

But aside from all of that, the pure meat of nursing is the care rendered to patients... our patients...

What do you see in nursing? In nursing school? Humanity. Pure humanity.

Yeah I still remember patient _ who was admitted for electrolyte imbalance, weakness and dehydration. His nurse told me he was irritable and withdrawn. But if you talked to him you would find out his mother had passed away a few months ago and he had no family in the bay area -- he was an elderly man living by his absolute self. 

I remember that at the beginning of my shift he would complain, he denied his nursing assessment and wanted to be left a lone, but by the end of the shift he laughed a few times and lost at arm wrestling several times. Yup you heard right,  I arm wrestled my patient per his request - but it made him laugh! haha.

Or how about _, who is probably still waiting at the hospital for a bed to open up at one of the homeless shelters. But she sure loved karaoke! Music made her come alive - it was amazing to see!

And how could I forget _, a back slider who immediately recognized me as Pentecostal when he saw me. We talked through most of my shift where I found out his sad life story ... I still pray for him

You may say "That's so sad! How could you do it?".

Well, there is something so beautiful about being able to see people in so many different situations in life. To see people without the front they put up on a daily basis. No fake smiles.. just people being the person they would be in their home with their family. 

Plus, it's not all sad! Some of my favorite moments include:
  •  Seeing love at it's best. 
  • Seeing a father look at his baby for the first time. 
  • Seeing somebody wake up to his family after being asleep for five weeks (seriously amazing btw).
This isn't just some profession.  It really makes you look at humanity differently.


All I can say is that I hope I can one day be as amazing as some of the nurses I've seen.
One more year to go! Wooohoo! Oh, and I'm sure glad I didn't drop out of nursing school!
 (yep, I almost quit - got the major change form and everything. But that's a different story lol)

8 comments

  1. I could not have said it any better; so, soo true!

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  2. I so enjoyed this post; super heart-warming! Love what you guys do!!

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  3. I've met some of the most wonderful people at hospitals. Last year it was the hospice nurse who helped me realize that we weren't killing my Dad, his time had come and our decisions would keep him comfortable. The nurse who was with him at the time of his death was very young and her tears told me what a caring person she was.

    You're going to be an amazing nurse!

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  4. Thank you Kindreds!

    And Thank you sister Kathy! I sure hope I can be a good nurse some day :) . Although I admire nurses and any medical professional, I still have a thing about patient education. I think every individual should be explained what is going on and why things are being done.

    Thank you for sharing that little story!

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  5. Okay, you just hit my pet peeve! Patients must know what is going on. My dad was forever telling me, "Well, I'm not the doctor." He didn't feel like he could question prescriptions or treatments. I don't know if it was his age or his particular doctor. Only the patient knows exactly what they feel, they must speak up and not be afraid to question. I have a fabulous doctor who never rushes me out the door - he makes me feel like what I have to say matters.

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  6. Exactly, nobody knows themselves better than YOU.

    One time one of my classmates patient had a diagnosis of COPD in his chart, and the patient had NO idea what that was or that he even had it. I was like what in the world ! And there was also another time where a lady kept getting hospitalized for acute respiratory distress because nobody explained, or re-explained, why she was to have a low sodium diet for her heart failure...

    Smh -_-

    BUT I saw a nurse do a BEAUTIFUL job one time explaining to a patient the reason behind all the doctor's pre-surgery orders.

    (: we're all human after all!

    But honestly, I was also drawn to the medical field because I felt that having knowledge about health would give me "power" in the sense.

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  7. I loved this post, Anali! I'm sure you have a lot of touching stories.

    ~Bethany~

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