These days it can be hard to find people who have stayed on the same path for most of their working life. In honor of National Nurses Week, we asked several longtime nurses to share what keeps them in the profession for the long haul.
I especially like working with new nurses. When it comes to showing nurses how to truly care for patients — what I call the art of nursing — you can't teach it, but you can serve as a role model. I always tell myself, these are the nurses who will eventually be taking care of me, so I have a personal responsibility to help them succeed.
I have been a nurse since 1965. As a nurse, I've taken on a certain identity. People approach me often with questions and concerns they feel that I, as a nurse, can answer for them. Friends and family frequently ask me to help them better understand diagnoses and prescriptions they've received from their doctors. And when I'm out in public, my nurse 'antennae' are often up, looking for people who might need help. I've assisted total strangers in restaurants and on airplanes during medical emergencies. Nursing is not something that I just do as a job — I am a nurse 24/7.
I have been a nurse for 50 years. I chose my current role as both nursing faculty and a faith-community nurse at a Catholic church out of my desire to explore the impact of spirituality on physical and mental health, and also to have an impact [with younger nurses]. Nursing has given me so many opportunities, and there is always a new challenge. I would like to learn global nursing next, and my membership in Sigma Theta Tau will help me engage with other nurses throughout the world. I am a lifelong learner, and nursing is a perfect fit for me.
What keeps me in nursing? It's fun. Well, it's certainly never boring. I've been a nurse since 1969, and I've done everything from working in military hospitals to nursing education to disaster relief for the Red Cross. My proudest nursing moment was serving on the ground as a disaster-relief coordinator at the Pentagon on 9/11. I coordinated nurse teams to treat the victims and helped plan over 100 funerals in one day for the casualties. I was personally thanked by top military brass and the victims' families for my service. While I would prefer never to have to do something like that again, should duty ever call, I would be the first to volunteer.