Jason Fratzke: What does it mean to be a nurse?
Nurses Week is a time when I have the privilege of thanking our nursing staff for its extraordinary contributions to patient care.
This Nurses Week, I have taken the time to reflect upon what it means to be a nurse. And I invite you to do the same, to think about how meaningful your work is, and the impact you make on those lives you touch every day.
Nursing is a commitment, a calling to serve. When we are called to serve, it is not about the monetary reward, but about the reward of helping our fellow human being. We are called because of the connection we make to others and the satisfaction to help people to get through the toughest (and best) times of their lives.
Nursing is selfless and compassionate. We choose to become nurses because we have a desire to help others. We want to help those who need our help the most, and to make a positive impact on their lives. We place the needs of our patients and families above all. We give our all, because our patients deserve the best care possible.
Nursing is intimate. We are given access to the most intimate, life-changing and unforgettable events of people’s lives. Moments that will last a lifetime.
You are with patients through their joy – the welcoming of a new child, successfully completing the last chemotherapy treatment, the recovery from a serious illness or injury, recovery from surgery and helping patients achieve their individual goals toward improved health.
We are also with our patients through their darkest times. We are by our patients’ sides when the future is uncertain. We empathize with the mix of emotions our patients have when they are hearing difficult news. And, we are with them every step of their journey to provide comfort, support and healing.
Even in the most difficult outcomes, you can be assured that you assisted in making the transition for that patient and their family as compassionately and personally as possible.
Nursing is trust. As we are invited into the most private parts of patient’s lives, a bond of trust is formed.
Many times, we are the first person a patient turns to for questions, or to have an ally in their care. We actively advocate for our patients when needed, knowing our patients need us to be their voice when they may not have the capacity to physically, emotionally or mentally help themselves.
Nursing is resilience. Some days are tougher than others. We may disagree with another care team member on how best to care for our patients. We may care for patients back-to-back all day in the clinic and feel discouraged not one patient is following their recommended care plan at home. We may have patients with higher-than-expected needs on our floor this shift, and we are feeling a bit under the weather ourselves. But we persevere, knowing tomorrow will be better, and we serve our patients with the compassion, dedication and grit they deserve.
Nursing is rewarding. Caring for patients is challenging work, but is also rewarding. We may feel rewarded when a patient returns to say “thank you,” or when the family who lost a loved one tells us we were the one comfort they had in a time a grief.
For some of us, it is holding the patients’ hand as they awake from a long operation, and crying along with a new mother as she embraces her child in her arms for the first time.
These are just a few of the many definitions of what nursing embodies. I hope you will take time this Nurses’ Week to pause in the midst of our hectic, demanding lives to reflect on what nursing means to you. I encourage you to slow down and recognize the importance of what we do as a profession. Connect to the “why,” and honor yourself and your fellow nurses for the important work that you do. Share your stories with each other, and support one another.
Your passion and your commitment really do make a difference—one nurse, one patient and one family at a time.
Happy Nurse’s Week. Thank you for all you do.