In 2020, the World Health Organization designated 2020 to be the Year of the Nurse. While it was designed to advance nurses’ vital position in transforming healthcare around the world, only God knew what it was really designed to do last year. We nurses became the front line in a fight that will shape us for years to come.
So that leads me to ask, why did we choose to be nurses? Why specifically are you a nurse? Some would probably say, well, “that’s what I thought I was supposed to be,” or for those of us in the Old Girls Group, it was an accepted path in higher education. Other might say, “it’s a good job,” or even, “I want to take care of people.” Recently, I saw a post on social media that spoke directly to me.
“I was born to be a nurse.”
In the 6th grade, in Mr. Innese’s class in Kensal Park Public School, London, Ontario, we were asked to write what we wanted to be when we grew up, and why. I instinctively wrote, “I want to be a nurse.” I didn’t know why, I only knew that I did. Heck what does a 10 year old girl know anyway? Was it because I was the younger child in a family with a child with major health issues? Was it because I sat in the lobby of the children’s hospital waiting for my parents and sister more times than I can count watching the nurses, in their white uniforms and caps, sometimes with their blue capes on, and wondered what it would be like to be them? Or was it just because…just because I always knew I would be a nurse?
Now as I look back over this near 42 year career, I am thankful that I have spent the majority of it in Long Term Care. I took the position of Director of Nursing at Methodist Retirement Communities in Durham, NC without ever setting foot in a nursing home! But that is what nurses do. We accept the path presented to us, and jump right in with both feet, and then sort it out.
I have seen the best there is to offer in nursing in Post Acute Care over these years. When I come in contact with you, my fellow nurses, I see similar characteristics. I see men and women whom are caring, communicative, empathetic, detail oriented, problem solvers, are committed to being patient’s advocates, are (usually) willing to learn, have great stamina and mostly have a sense of humor. We could NEVER do this job without a sense of humor! God knows we needed a sense of humor to get through the last year!
I encourage all my nursing friends out there in Mission Health Communities and beyond, to reflect on why you became a nurse—use even one of the characteristics I listed above to guide you over the next year. Write it on an index card, put it in your MAR to refer to during med pass, put it on your desk, or inside your scrub pants pocket. Pull it out through the day and think, have I exhibited that today?
Mission Health too, is about to embark on a year long project to elevate our nurses. A career ladder program is soon to be launched. Mentorship programs are rolling out. I am forever grateful to the Senior Team at Mission, led by our President and CEO, Stuart Lindeman who have said this is not only important, but necessary for us to retain and recruit the best out there.
Every year, National Nurses Week bumps into National Skilled Nursing Care Week. It’s a great mix, because as we celebrate the residents in our communities, we also step back to thank the nearly 800 Licensed Nurses whom come to a Mission Health Community each day to carry out the work of nursing. I not only celebrate National Nurses Week with you all, I tip my white cap with a black stripe to you, and very much respectfully thank you for all you do.
What will be on your index card?
Happy Nurses Week,
Proudly a Registered Nurse of 42 years
Chief Clinical Officer, Mission Health Communities.