What Drives Us Into It?!

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    Barriers to nursing can be daunting, but not necessarily road blocks. The military can sometimes be the trigger that moves us forward. Starting from a child to a young adult my story takes the reader down a path from high school Nursing Assistant to soldier, to nurse, now looking back and seeing what drove me...

    What Drives Us Into It?!

    "You were meant to be a nurse!" My grandmother used to tell me. Grandma said that after I "cured her" shoulder pain with some warm moist packs wrapped in tinfoil and a blanket pinned around her arm. She suffered a fall when I was in high school so came to live with us while she recovered. I was a Nursing Assistant Student at the time and anxious to practice with Gram, giving her backrubs that really did last 5 minutes, baths and the like. She loved it. Back then, Nursing Assistant training was 680 hours, doing many things that L.P.N.s did. As a young school age child in the 1960s, I would get chided by my mother for using up all of the bandaids because my dolls "got blooded." But deep down, I wanted to be a nurse but feared I just didn't have the "smarts" for it. That was 1974.

    My confidence was down, as I wasn't a straight-A student.My grades were good, but not stellar. After enlisting in the U.S. Army right out of high school, I trained as a combat medic. I remember visiting a ward at an ancient army hospital stateside after hours, my desire for nursing still quite new. It was dark outside. The hospital was made of wood, built during the Korean War. It went up in a hurry. The hallways were a labrynth. "If I were a lab rat looking for the cheese in this place I'd starve to death!" I told myself. The Med/Surg/Ward was straight ahead. I could see the lonely night lamp, lit at the desk, reflecting off the green linoleum floor.

    The Night Duty Nurse, a military officer, barely looked up as I walked into the ward. I asked if I could help, even though I wasn't assigned to her unit. She said "not really," and kept reading her magazine. Glancing around, I saw a young soldier in traction. He asked for the urinal, his light being ignored. "Sure," I replied quietly, handing him the urinal as discreetly as I could.

    "Thank you, Ma'me," he whispered. I hadn't the heart to tell him I was enlisted, and not an officer, who would be addressed as "Ma'me." I smiled at him and slowly began to leave the floor, trying not to awaken anyone.

    Another soldier reached up and touched my hand. I stopped and looked at him. He looked tired and sad. Without saying a word, I sat next to him for a few minutes and held his hand. He went to sleep. Inside I was angry at the nurse at the desk. She didn't look that tired or burned out.But these men were.

    I vowed right then and there that I would pursue a nursing career, with or without the military. The next morning, I got a phone call from a friend who worked that floor I stealthly visited the night before. "You might not want to come here tonight," she said. "One of the patients complained to the Admin that the Night Duty Nurse was ignoring the patients, and that you met their needs instead. That nurse is really angry at you."Great, I thought. Now what?

    "But don't worry, "my friend stated. "The patients stuck up for you. One of them said, "She's the only one who brought me any comfort!" The Colonel who was the Nursing Admin., said in no uncertain terms, She (meaning me) wasn't wrong," pointing at the Night Duty nurse, "You were." I was worried that there would be some kind of retaliation but it never came, thank the Lord.

    My duties continued both in and off of the field, supporting the Infantry units and working both in the Troop Medical Clinic and at Garrison, our Headquarters. My enlistment ended honorably 3 years later. 12 years went by, and I re-enlisted for L.P.N. training. It was during Desert Storm. After 7.5 years of hospital nursing I became an R.N.

    The only regret I have is that Grandma didn't live long enough to see it. On Graduation Day, as I walked to the stage to receive my diploma, I gazed upward. And with a lump in my throat I silently said, "I made it, Grandma."
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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  2. Poll: What Drives Us Into It?

    • Financial need

      40.00% 10
    • A calling

      16.00% 4
    • Life Change

      16.00% 4
    • Compassion for the human condition

      36.00% 9
    • The need to feel needed

      8.00% 2
    25 Votes / Multiple Choice

  3. Visit Have Nurse profile page

    About Have Nurse, ASN, LPN, RN Pro

    Military Veteran of 9 years, 27 + years in Nursing, Love the Lord, animals and people. Big fan of dark chocolate and Downtown Abby!

    Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 651; Likes: 1,271

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    6 Comments

  4. by   Kitiger
    None of the answers in the poll really work for me. I enjoyed working as an aide. Working in the nursing home was fun. I fit right in. I belonged.

    When it came tome to choose between becoming a music teacher or a nurse - I loved both - I chose nursing because it seemed to offer steadier employment.
  5. by   Have Nurse
    A musical nurse! Even better! Well done to you!!
  6. by   TruvyNurse
    I've always been fascinated with health and human physiology. Take that plus a career where you'll always find a job and a schedule to for your life...bam! Nursing
  7. by   Have Nurse
    Thank you for your response!
  8. by   Ruby Vee
    There weren't enough options in the poll, or the one that I wanted simply wasn't there.

    I went into nursing because I wanted good, stable employment with a middle class salary and benefits. I loved the sciences, but was scared to death of the patients. Forty years later, I can say that I loved most of it. It was a good choice for me.
  9. by   JBMmom
    It's hard to summarize a career decision in a single sentence. After many years in one field, the likelihood of unemployment as the primary bread winner in the household led me to find new options. So, financial need was the ultimate driver because I probably would still be in pharmaceutical research if it still provided for my family. However, when weighing my potential options, the field of nursing provided multiple diverse opportunities to help people and it seemed like it would be a good fit.

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