"From a single candle..." Words from an RN Pinning Ceremony

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    Words from an RN Pinning Ceremony- An alumni shares "words of wisdom and encouragement, drawing on his experiences through-out his career, with graduating RNs embarking on their professional careers and encouraging each of them to find their own words of wisdom and encouragement "

    When I first received the invitation to speak at the Pinning Ceremony at my alma mater, I was not quite sure why they had chosen me. In fact I was pretty sure they had made a mistake. A quick email, a quick response, and I was assured they had the correct person. With that cleared up I of course accepted the offer.

    I was honored. After all how hard could it be? All I had to do according to the email was "provide them with words of wisdom and encouragement as they complete nursing school and embark on their professional career in nursing".
    Easy enough! I went straight to my computer to type out my words of wisdom and....


    So I thought back to my first days in nursing school for "words of wisdom and encouragement to share" and remembered the following:

    From the first day of class- "even as a student nurse, friends, family, and neighbors will always see you as a nurse"

    From the Nightingale Pledge- "And will devote myself to the welfare of my patients, my family, and my community"

    And most noteworthy, the unforgettable words of my preceptor- "Kevin, are you chewing gum?" and "Kevin, I would love to answer your question but I'm so distracted by the patient's dirty linen laying on the floor"

    I also remembered being asked if I would have any interest in volunteering clinical time at a local homeless shelter where yet another preceptor shared "listen not only do what the patient is telling you but what they are not telling you".

    Alright I thought, I'm on a roll...but suddenly my typing ceased and again....Nothing!

    Seeking inspiration I turned to a dusty tote bin stored on a high shelf in my closet. Now, my wife Jackie will tell you I don't save many things but in that dusty tote are some seemingly insignificant items, however each is associated with its own "words of wisdom and encouragement to share".

    The tote itself, a suggestion long ago from a mentor who said "store odds and ends from your RN career in there and when you begin to question why you are an RN, pull it down and remember...".

    And in the tote:
    The front page of the Dayton Daily News with my picture and an article about a local business man (me) who gave up his career to go to nursing school and on it the post-it-note from Dr Matre- "Kevin, I wrote a psych consult for you".

    A rather generic looking white can with the famous Anheiser-Busch logo which much to my surprise (disappointment?) actually contained water. I received it on a Red Cross deployment to the West Washington floods and remembered the words- "things are not always what they appear".

    Iron-on Red Cross nurse patches given to me by a retired RN during my first disaster deployment- "hope we haven't scared you away".

    Post cards from a resident of Biloxi, Mississippi, given to me a week after Hurricane Katrina and her words-"I wanted you to know what our Biloxi looked like before Katrina and hope you'll come back when we've fixed it up".

    Pictures of the devastation left behind by Katrina, thinking of my comment upon arrival at the Gulf "there is no beauty left here" and the words of a Buddhist monk- "look in the eyes of those around you, do you not see the beauty?".

    A sun faded Salvation Army baseball cap and the kind Army staff who said- "we'll provide you with food and sleeping arrangements just take care of those who need you".

    Cards and notes from patients and their families with the simple words "thank you".

    Nursing related pins, patches, hats, and t-shirts from around the country which say- "you belong".

    A coroner's business card reminding me of his words of advice when dealing with the families who have lost loved ones- "it never gets easier, and hope it never does".

    A gear bag from "The Flying Pig Marathon" and the memory of an exhausted runner's words "thank you for helping me finish".

    A picture of two small children we had dressed in surgical garb to surprise their grandpa who was scared and nervous before his surgery- "remembering not his words but the smile these little 'doctors' brought to him".

    A letter from the father of two small children who despite our best efforts did not make it out of the trauma room and his words of kindness- "for caring so much and for all you did".

    Brochures, magazines, and flyers from nursing presentations and speaking engagements, each with notes of encouragement from friend and mentor Dr Judy Church saying- "you can do it".

    A pin from the Dayton Folk Festival and remembering the man on our Gator who as we rushed him to Grandview ER said "thank you, no one would help me".

    A jeweler's business card from the store I purchased the engagement ring for the woman who said "go" when others said "don't" or "you must be crazy going there".

    Thinking I had now enough "words of wisdom and encouragement", I stumbled upon an old Power Point presentation from days as a Diversity Class facilitator and found the following:

    From the Bible (Mathew 25:35-40)
    "I was sick and you looked after me"

    "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"

    Genesis (104a)
    "When the holy One loves a man, He sends him a present in the shape of a poor man, so that he should perform some good deed to him, through the merit of which he may draw a cord of grace."

    From the Qur'an (76.8-9)
    "They feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan, and the prisoner, for love of him, saying, 'we wish for no reward nor thanks from you'."

    From the Tattvarthasutra (5.21)
    "Rendering help to another is the function of human beings."

    From the Tao (Tract of the Quiet Way)
    "Relieve people in distress as speedily as you must release a fish from a dry rill (lest he die). Deliver people from danger as quickly as you must free a sparrow from a tight noose. Be compassionate to orphans and relieve widows. Respect the old and help the poor."

    And finally I felt I had found enough to share...

    So in the search for "words of wisdom and encouragement to share" with those students gathered together for their pinning as RNs, I rediscovered why I chose nursing. The tone was set with the Nightingale Pledge, carried over in clinical at St Vincent's Shelter, reinforced through days and weeks spent with those who experienced day to day as well as traumatic disasters both locally and nationally- caring for the simplest medical needs to complicated surgeries.

    My wish for each of you is you go forth in nursing, infusing your nursing with your individuality, life skills, and experiences, and that you care for those in need whenever and wherever they may be, and that you care for each other as you would care for your patients.

    May you find your passion in nursing, love what you do, never stop learning, never stop caring, and never stop listening.

    So in these few moments we've shared, I hope each of you may have found, heard, or perhaps remembered your own "words of wisdom and encouragement".

    And as for the title of this evening's presentation "from a single candle" I leave you with this...

    "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." Buddha
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 3, '12
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    About kayakrn7

    Kevin Mollenhauer BS RN CNOR ONC is the Orthopedic Program Liaison at Sycamore Medical Center. Mollenhauer is also a member of the NDMS DMAT OH5 team, a Red Cross Volunteer, and a member of the Tri-State Medical Reserve Corp and often draws on these experiences of providing Nursing care during disasters for his presentations.

    Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 8; Likes: 74
    Currently Program Liaison Joint and Spine Program, Program Liaison Fracture Program, DMAT OH-5 Member; from US
    Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in Periop and Ortho

    Read My Articles


  3. by   NSGstudent12
    I loved this article. It brought tears to my eyes. I am from the Biloxi MS area, thank you
  4. by   miyhaka
    First of all,THANK YOU!
    I am not a nurse yet,but I will be.I am going to print this out and post it in my room so when I'm struggling in Nursing School,I can look at this article and remember why I want to be a Nurse.
  5. by   onetiredmomma
    thank you for sharing! What an amazing career you have forged for yourself! It is easy to see why you were asked by your Alma Mater to speak to new impressionable nurses!
  6. by   annlewis
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful words, keep writing you have a gift.
  7. by   nurse grace RN
    Wonderful articl brought tears to my eyes. I find it inspiring also and it reminds me of why I also became a second career RN.
  8. by   nursearends
    I am in the last two weeks of nursing school!! This is beatifull great inspiration to get me through my last two finals and onto my Pinning!!
  9. by   TigerLilie
    Wow, Thank you:kiss. I love the simpl, yet true words. We all came along way and everyday I am happy I choose Nursing. There are good and bad days, but it is all worth it in the end - Nurses get to witness life come into the world and hold someones hand as they take their last breath. Nursing is noble, loyal, and honest--the best of the best!!!!
  10. by   Jackfackmasta
    You lit my candle :heartbeat
  11. by   lovelyb26
    Quote from Jackfackmasta
    You lit my candle :heartbeat
    And mines as well. Gee, now I recall why this is so near and dear to my heat and why I must achieve this dream :-) Thanks