Nursing Voices

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why do we do what we do?

Do you ever feel like a glorified waitress?
I sometimes ponder why we put up with all the baloney. (I'm being diplomatic and politically correct here, in an attempt not to offend those who don't yet know me well enough. Please substitute the actual term I'd like to use in place of "baloney"... use your imagination.)
And does the baloney outweigh the reward?

Would it make a difference if it did?

Men and women enter nursing careers with astoundingly different perspectives and motivations. Certainly, there are enough different nursing fields and forms of practice to satisfy our diverse expectations, but why do we so often "stick it out" in challenging and mediocre work environments?

Honestly, I don't have a global answer for that one and would not presume to venture a guess.
More about the baloney later, I'm sure, but here are a few of the reasons I continue to show up for my shifts (occasionally with bells on):

1. I have to admit, it feeds my family.

2. Most of my co-workers are admirable (if often inexperienced... yes, I do work nights), and we've worked together through those nights from hell, laughed at each others' nutty 5am slap-happy stories, smiled and cried with each other over the joys and tragedies in our personal lives, and managed to keep the unit from completely falling apart at any point to date.

3. The sense of pride and accomplishment when new nurses look to me for help and mentorship... then over time transform into "experienced" nurses themselves.

4. There's nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of a scary or fast delivery. There are those of you who know, it is indescribable.

5. The absolutely unforgettable moments I've spent with close friends who've asked me to be present at the birth of their children, which brings me to perhaps the overwhelming reason I stay:

6. (pause while I sit here and struggle to begin...) I'm having difficulty putting this one into words, but I want to convey my understanding and acceptance of the fact that what I do (help bring babies into the world) is utterly miraculous. I am present at those moments in a family's life that bring both the most anticipated and the most unexpected joy. I also stand by as families experience the most heartbreaking and unspeakable grief. To witness these pivotal moments is both a privelege and a burden, but is definitely one of the most influential factors in my faithful return to the unit, week after week, year after year.

I'll close on that note. There are perhaps innumerable other reasons to "stick it out". Sometimes, it feels as though they are not enough.


Laura said...

I believe that you covered some of the reasons why i continue to do this job.
thank you for visiting my blog and the compliment. like you, i am awed by the nursing and medical blogs i have read. my writing is not always about nursing because that isn't all that i do. i look forward to reading your perspective.

Kim said...

Oh, I get adrenaline with a fast delivery, alright, but not for the reasons you do! LOL!

No babies in the ER!

Although I caught one who plopped on the floor, having pushed her mother's Hanes Her Way out of the way to do so. Cutest little thing!

Mom was in a wheelchair, and baby had loud lungs but was still attached so I just held her in a warm blanket (the baby) until the L&D nurses came running down to mercifully relieve me from my tiny bundle.

Mother Jones RN said...

Thanks for coming to visit me on my blog. You are off to a good start on your blog. I enjoyed your observations, and I'll be back.


Nurse M said...

you have a great start here!

apgaRN said...


That's pretty funny, considering how we chuckle when the ER calls to say that there is someone delivering there... not quite like it's portrayed on TV, eh?

We typically have to go and retrieve our triage patients from the ER, so when they call to say they're bringing someone up, usually because she's pushy (not in the personality sense of the word...) or the contractions are right on top of each other, we have a good laugh, too. They tend to round the corner and then tuck tail and run before the wheelchair has come to a complete stop! ("Phew! Made it to OB... I'm OUTTA here!")

Thanks for the thumbs up... I'm in the middle of my workweek, so we'll see if I can manage to get another post out on Monday. :)

DisappearingJohn said...

Gotta admit, I love being a nurse, but have no desire to do L&D...

I can push a wheelchair especially fast when we have someone who needs to get to the third floor really fast! (that's where L&D is!)

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