Is nursing a "calling" - page 2

I really want to get philosophical here! I have pondered this many times during my 20+ nursing career, but have never come to a full understanding of it. Seeing nursing as a calling is like seeing... Read More

  1. by   mustangsheba
    For me personally, nursing is a calling. That doesn't mean it is a calling for everyone who is a good nurse. We need diversity to keep us centered as long as the patients' needs take priority. We can do that wearing many different hats - lawyer, dietitian, physical therapist, even doctor. Intriguing, philosophical question.
  2. by   leesonlpn
    Is 'calling'a religious connotation? I feel that my going into nursing was fate/destiny. For some reason, I am to cross the paths of my patients, and my patients are to cross my path. I had an aunt who suffered from MS. I remember her holding on to things as she walked, and eventually became w/c bound. We had an extended family of crazy ukrainians. Grandparents, aunts cousins. We kids helped feed 'Josie", ordered things out of the eatons catalogue for her, painted her nails, and put straws in her coffee so she could drink it etc. She was in her late 30's. Eventually she ended up in extended care. I used to ride my bike up there, and help feed at her table. There were other ms patients there, and I enjoyed doing things for them. Most importantly was my meeting with an LPN there. She wore her cap with a green stripe. She always made sure I had an icecream, as I was too shy to ask for anything. I used to watch her, and was truly amazed at her gentle nature. I always knew I was going to be a nurse. Ok, so my legs were too short to be a ballerina, and ukrainians don't piroette very well, but my point is that it was a feeling inside of me that steered me to where I am today. I think those nurses who answered the 'call' or followed their heart as I, are those nurses that we work with, who even after days from hell, wouldn't give up their career for anything. You can spot those nurses by how they are with their patients, how they conduct themselves at work, and if you peeked inside their hearts, you would see them glow. All of the other nurses, used to laugh and call them names they never let poor....oh there I go again,.... getting carried away .oops. bye

    [ May 25, 2001: Message edited by: leesonlpn ]
  3. by   HilaryEJ
    I agree with those who think nursing is a calling in the original sense of the word for some nurses (called by God). However I don't think most modern day nurses would agree that they have been called to nursing in that manner. Martinson, a norwegian nursing theororist, means we should modernise the word calling so that its meaning is more focused on an obligation to help to the best of our ability those who are sick. This seems relevant to me - that was my motivation for starting nursing and according to a survey of norwegian nursing students performed 2 years ago it is what motivates most of them to enter nursing education.
  4. by   fiestynurse
    Thank-you all for your interesting and heartfelt responses. "Nursz-R-Awsm", what you said really touched me. I am beginning to think that my calling, was simply to help people, therefore, I am still answering that call as an attorney. "HilaryEJ", discusses the need to modernize the word calling, so that it's meaning is more focused on the obligation to help people. So, as "mustangsheba" has mentioned, I will just be wearing a different hat (I'll be exchanging my nursing hat for one of those white wigs that they wear in the courts of England, heehee) I am seeing that the word calling has a different meaning for different people. "lital857" describes it as being more of an intellectual pursuit and "lagala" describes it as a passion or inspiration. And "Leesonlpn" sees the calling as following your heart. You are so funny, I bet you bring much joy to your patients. This is turning out to be a great topic for an article, that I think I should write. Thanks!!
  5. by   CCU NRS
    This is a very Intriguing question. I will tell you my story and maybe provide an entirely new point of view.


    I am an Lpn working CCU for an agency although I have been working with the same Hospital for 6 years. I enjoy the work and feel that I am a very competant nurse and a wonderful care giver. I try to make my patients feel at ease and comfortable, I am a male nurse 6ft 6in tall and over 300lbs. I get a lot of ribbing about my size but it is a great Ice breaker and if people can joke with me then I can joke back.

    Ok calling or profession I was a pretty rowdy youth. I broke a LOT of laws. From auto theft to drug use. I worked all my life in one way or another usually crappy jobs for minimum wage or just above. As I got older I realized I didn't have any future. I was working in a rubber plant making packer parts and I was trying to get promotions and make a place for myself in the company, suddenly the company is bankrupt. I was twenty seven with nothing but unemployment check coing in. My father asked me what I was going to do with my life? He said he would help me get through school if I would decide on a profession and get serious about it. I still didn't know what to do. He and my mother suggested Nursing. I had nothing else to do so I went to LVN school. As I mentioned earlier I am a burly guy and I have mostly worked labor jobs, the nursing instructors thought I was not nursing material. A male instructor in particular asked me why I was doing this and told me I should maybe rethink my options. Well I am nothing if not stubborn so I told him I had as much right to be here as anyone. Of course he tried to make my life hell which to me was inspiration. I have always had somebody trying to keep me down so I now had a purpose. I made A's in his class which further vexed him. Whe we did clinicals my patients loved me, I have a wonderful sense of humor and am very caring. I finished school where I me t a wonderful woman and classmate GInrs, and started my profession.

    Here's the calling part: I really enjoyed my work and I felt that I was helping people, and in an odd sort of way I felt that I was making atonement for all the things I had done in the past. I was a rotten kid, and teenager. I grew up in the 60-70's and went through all kinds of things and tried all sorts of drugs and stole all kinds of stuff. Now by the time I turned thirty I was an active member of society with a respectable profession and a wife and two kids. I would call it penance but it wasn't hard or degrading, I enjoy it in fact I love it. I work agency because the money is better and I don't have to be involved with in house politics. Wow got a little long winded sorry. Hope you see this feisty.
  6. by   mustangsheba
    Another little note here. Larry: I loved your post. It makes me feel so good to see someone turn themselves around. I was a very good girl, but the MMPI we had to take when doing our psych rotation revealed that I am borderline sociopath. My family wasn't surprised. I like to think this quality makes me a good patient advocate - always butting heads with the powers that be. I probably equate the "doing time" with Karma. The "calling" part is that I am unhappy doing anything else. I started nursing about about the age of three and got my license to practice at age 43. (I said I was a good girl - not perfect!) I've enjoyed the reflections on this subject.
  7. by   fiestynurse
    My High School Vice Principal told me that I would "never amount to anything" I was an unruly teen also. Now, maybe he was using reverse psychology because I have far surpassed all expectations. But, I think he was just an A--h--e!
    Anyway, you use the word "penance." I have frequently said to people regarding nursing, that I have "done my time." So, I have probably felt like you sometimes. This kind of goes back to my orginal statement in my post: Do we have to suffer in order to do God's work? Is this "calling" what keeps us from being more assertive when asking for better pay or working conditions. Thanks Larry, you really made me think!

    P.S. I worked with a male CNA that was
    6'10'' and very big and muscular. We
    called our "enforcer"!
    The kindest, most gentle man ever.
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Jun 27, '01
  8. by   leesonlpn
    Way to go Larry! Look, Florence is waving her lamp at you. She is very pleased with you. We are too. Your patients must feel very secure with your presence.Thanks for sharing such a fantastic story. Don't you love it when you prove your instructors wrong.
  9. by   agecynurse
    Originally posted by fiestynurse
    I really want to get philosophical here! I have pondered this many times during my 20+ nursing career, but have never come to a full understanding of it. Seeing nursing as a calling is like seeing it as some sort of divine mission. Has God called us to this profession? Is there some spiritual influence in our decisions to become nurses?Is it like joining a nunnery? A nursing hat is somewhat like the hats that the old nuns use to wear. Are we angels of mercy?
    Or is all this just Patriarchal bu--s--t!
    A way to keep us in our places? Is this part of the reason why we feel guilt at asking for more money or better working conditions? Are we suppose to suffer because we are doing
    God's work?
    I believe nursing is a calling; however, it also requires someone with a compassionate, kind heart and an even-tempered person.
    Nurses can stand up for themselves without swearing, yelling, or walking out on their patients. After all it's not the patient's fault if a doctor yells at a nurse and they [the patients] deserve the best possible care we can give them regardless of how we as nurses feel. I've only been a RN for 3 years, but I wouldn't change my career choice for "all the money in the world" because I chose nursing as my career after I was married and had two small children. I have "sacrificed" four years of my and my family's life to achieve this career and I truly find nursing rewarding. It's a good feeling to leave work knowing that you had a hand in making someone else feel better; not only physically but psychologically as well!! So yes nursing is a calling; it is a special person who can touch someone's life and provide the person with a sense of self-worth, as well as, the nurse themself. Maybe if nurses were required to wear white uniforms to distinguish them from other hospital staff; white signifies "purity" and a sense of "unity" in nurses and that's what the career of nursing needs; UNITY!!! So next time a nurse seems "downtrodden" and "just wants to quit" think back to the first and foremost you wanted to become a nurse; was it just to "help others?" or was it because "it was the only career choice at the time?" or maybe you chose nursing because it was born of sincere desire to make a difference in someone's life and allow them to see their own self-worth.
    NURSING! It's not just a career, it's an adventure!

  10. by   tiger
    it was not a calling for me. my mom just told me to do something and i really had no guiadance counselor in school. i knew i didn't want to be a teacher, lawyer. or doctor and i really didn't know any other options. i was from a very small town and most people went to work at some small place in town. at my moms suggestion i went to the local college to enroll in nursing and there were no openings in either the lpn or rn--i was too late. then they called me and said they had an opening in tne lpn program. one of my friends i graduated with was killed in an auto accident and the spot was open. if i could go back now i would do something besides nursing.i didn't have the info i should have to make the decision. i would love to work for the aspca. animals are my calling.
  11. by   prmenrs
    My first thought when I saw the title of this thread was: "It's a calling alright; right now it's a-calling me to do an extra shift!"


    Then I realized it was a serious discussion....

    I'll get back to you!
  12. by   imaRN
    I thought this should go to the top and hopefully get revived.

    Is nursing a calling?......

    I am not sure, the last 2 weeks have been very tough at work. Emotionally and mentally and always physically.....I have been asking myself ..
    Do I do this RN thing because I am really good at it and it is where I am "suppose to be?" or do I do this because it is always what I have done,,,
    (take care of others) Or is it because I really didn't type well and wanted to wear comfortable shoes......

    I have gone back and forth on this many times, have slept on it and still am wondering.
    Are we suppose to keep on working when we are not seemingly getting a valued response from our administrators? Is it enough that I know I am good and my patients would tell me if they could only remember their ICU stay? I just am not sure, how much should a person or profession take before making a change?

    Is staying and hanging in there good or should I too "jump ship" and be a "free agent" like so many of my co-workers are doing, going with agency work or now going prn at my hosp. and makes much, much more........hummmmmmmmmmmm

    Or should I just get on antidepressants like most of my co-workers and not even think about it!

    I sure don't have an answer only more questions....hope I can figure it out soon............imaRN
  13. by   fiestynurse
    Well, this has certainly been an incredible discussion. The next time that someone throws-out that "nursing is a calling" statement to me, I am going to have a much broader understanding of what that really means for nurses.
    ImaRN, you sound like me about 6-7 years ago. Your statement about not being able to type and wanting to wear comfortable shoes really cracked me up. I can't believe how funny some of you are! And "prnenrs", what can I say? LOL

    The comment about many nurses being on anti-depressants really saddened me. Obviously something is terribly wrong when we have so many in our profession depressed, angry, and burnt-out. We really have to remember to be there for each other. That's why I love this BB and am glad that I found it. By the way, I was one of those nurses on anti-depressants. I don't know why I feel so much shame in saying that. I am much better now, but mostly because I had so many fellow nurses to help me.

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