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  • Jul 14 '10

    "No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this - 'devoted and obedient'. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman" ~ Florence Nightingale

    It's 0200H; the hallways are deserted except for a few nurses checking up on their patients. It is quiet, except for the humming of the machines and faint rustling of the sheets as the sleeping patients toss about their beds. In this dead hour of the early morning, I cannot help but contemplate on the work which I have been blessed with.

    As I sit in the silence, waiting for the time when I have to get up and go on with my routine work, I can't help but wonder if this is really where I'm meant to be- if this is who I was supposed to be.

    Am I really destined to be a Nurse?

    I took up nursing in a conscious effort to ease my mother's suffering- she has been sick her whole life. When I started working, I saw for my self the horrors of disease and illness. I saw the struggle between life and death, between health and sickness. And what I saw was clearly etched in my memory.

    As I lost my mother to congestive heart failure, I began to lose my faith in my profession. Like a weary soldier in a war, I have begun to question my purpose of continuing with this path. I used to love my work; it gave me the sense of fulfillment every time I see an improvement in my patient's health status. I enjoyed every moment spent with providing help and care for my patients--I loved being a nurse.

    But nursing for me has taken up a different meaning since working in the Middle East. In a hospital setting or in any health care setting for that matter, nurses are the integral part of the health care team. They SHOULD work side by side with the doctors and other disciplines. But this is not the case!

    From what I have witnessed, the nurses are being treated as though they belong to the bottom level of the health care ladder. We have been called names, treated poorly by everyone- from patients to the doctors. We were accused of being careless and insensitive to the patients' needs.

    Our flaws have been magnified to gigantic degrees, but our virtues have been scoffed upon and belittled.

    We nurses have earned our degrees, worked hard for our diplomas, so please do NOT call us stupid. We may have committed some mistakes, but we are humans. We are sleep-deprived humans who usually work with empty stomachs, full bladders, aching legs, and fully dependent on caffeine to function effectively. We are just humans and not machines. We get tired and we get sick.

    Some people have callously accused us that we took up nursing for the money. I beg to disagree.

    Nursing, although it provides a steady income, requires more than the drive to earn money. It requires the dedication, patience and sacrifice. Being a nurse means missing out on family occasions and festivities. It means spending more time at the hospital than at home.

    If we were in it for the money, we would have looked for better paying jobs that doesn't require us to give up our precious time with our family. So please, stop telling us that money is all it takes to make us do our jobs better.

    Sara Moss-Wolfe said that: "Nurses are the few blessings of being ill." I wish someone would recognize this. I still love my job and I still harbor the hope that some day we will be treated better. We are the patients' advocate, but who is ours?