An Open Letter to… Nursing

Nursing school was tough, but I made it. Being an aide and working to get through school was tough, but I made it. Questioning my decisions to change schools and majors was tough, but I made it. Now, here I am, a nurse.

There were days where I did not think I would get here – days of irrational fear that I would not pass the semester or, even worse, the NCLEX. There were days/weeks/months that I did not think I had what it takes to be a nurse. Was I strong enough emotionally? Was I strong enough physically? Was I smart enough to recognize subtle signs of distress in my patient? Would I be able to take care of my patients the way they deserve to be cared for?

Now, past the doubts and endless questioning, here I am. I passed all of the tests, the skills check-offs, and the classes. I got the diploma. I passed the NCLEX. I am, for all intents and purposes, a licensed nurse. I see the world through a different set of eyes than I used to. When nursing school said that they would re-teach us how to think, they meant it. Now, everywhere I go, I am constantly assessing people and situations.

A piece of paper does not make a nurse. A heart for serving the people and community around them with their skills and knowledge makes a nurse. A heart full of compassion that can care for each person as individuals without passing judgment makes a nurse. Someone who never stops striving to learn as much as they can about as many things as they can to care for their patients makes a nurse. A genuine love for people makes a nurse.

I have always wanted to work in medicine. At first and for most of my life, I wanted to be a physician. However, working as an aide, I discovered what it truly means to be a nurse. I saw people that I respect, nurses, caring not only for the wounds and illnesses of all patients that came across their floor, but for their entire person. I have seen them rejoice with a patient as they get discharged home, feeling like a new person compared to when they were admitted. I have seen them solemn with the family who makes the tough choice that hospice and comfort care is the best option for their family member. I have seen nurses hold hands of patients as they leave this world. I have seen them literally breathing for patients and making the heart beat that wouldn’t beat on its own. I have seen them cry with their patients. I fell in love with nursing in these instances.

I now have had the opportunity to do most of the things listed above. My heart is so full every singe day that I go to work. The floor I work on can be crazy for sure, but it is so rewarding. I see patients in and out all day and I would not trade it for anything. Some go home, others go to long-term care. Some go to ICU, some leave this world. Some are kind, others are cantankerous. Some are sicker than others.

Even though it is not easy and even though it is not the most glamorous, nursing is where I belong. I truly believe that God changed my heart when I was in school, changed my direction from medical school to nursing. I am not the same person I was before working in medicine. I am stronger and more capable. I love and treat my patients like extended family.

Nursing is not only my career, but where my heart is.

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