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Thank you, Florence Nightingale


There are daily challenges we face as nurses that we all know very well: tough schedules (nights/holidays/weekends), long hours, packed and busy schedules, missed meals, full bladders (both for us and then our patients that are due to void post foley removal that can't), and it seems like more tasks than there are hours in our day. Why would anyone want to do that to themselves every single day? Because I love helping others and I love being a nurse. I am so thankful to be a nurse.

Specializes in Surgery,Critical Care,Transplant,Neuro.

Thank you, Florence Nightingale

Around this time of year, I like to think about the previous year: what has changed, what has stayed the same, and what I am truly thankful for. It is easy to have a negative day or a positive day, and just focus on that, but it's the big picture that is what is most important. When I decided to apply for a BSN program when I was 17 and a senior in high school, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and one thing that I am always thankful for. There are so many other reasons that I am thankful for the profession of nursing, some personal and some professional, but I will always be thankful:

Job Stability and Flexibility

It may seem trite, but I am thankful that I am in a career that has so many different opportunities that stem from it. I started in Med-Surg on a Transplant Floor, then was given the opportunity to move into the Surgical ICU, work in a Trauma SICU, and then become a critical care clinical nurse specialist. And unlike many other fields, I was fully supported by my hospital to get my Master's while working full-time, and they helped to fix my schedule so that I could go to school full-time and work full-time. I worked permanent nights and lots of weekends, which wasn't fun, but it allowed me to have time to go to clinicals and complete my school work, while still making money to live. Not many jobs offer that flexibility. I was really encouraged to bring my newly formed ideas and knowledge on best practice directly to the unit to improve patient care. And, once my Master's was complete, I was offered opportunities to move my career forward, without pressure and without undue influence: there were so many opportunities, and I was able to move forward the way I wanted to. There are not many jobs like that out there where we look out for one another, professionally, to try and further other's careers.

My Patients

As difficult as some shifts are, I am always really thankful that my patients and their families allow me into their lives. It's truly a blessing to be able to care for people when they are in the hospital at their sickest; it is the ultimate form of trust to allow someone that they otherwise do not know, to take care of themselves/their loved ones, and I am thankful to be that person. Some of my critical care patients that never regained consciousness while I cared for them before they passed, due to critical injuries, are some of the deaths that I have cried the most over because the families shared with me the stories of their life and love with their family members. They would paint the picture for me of the part of this person that I was working so hard to save, and ultimately couldn't; they allowed me to share tears with them during the final moments of their loved one's life, and they accepted me as a part of their family, if only for a few hours/days.

My Co-workers

Only your colleagues seem to truly understand what we go through and what we do every day. We are like a family sharing holidays, nights, and long hours together at the hospital when we are missing time with our own families to take care of others. Whether we are just sharing a quick laugh in the break room, grabbing a quick meal together after our shift, or helping one another with patient care needs: it's our co-workers that make the day. When we work together as a team, we are not only supporting one another physically and mentally during our sometimes really trying shifts, but we are making the patients' experiences the best they can. Sometimes it is physically impossible for me to be everywhere I need to be during my shift, and I know that I do need to somehow get everything done (with actual caring, not like checking a task of my "to do" list), and I rely on my co-workers to help me, and I know they will because I would do the same for them.

Learned to Live

Through all of my experiences with patients, families, other nurses I am so thankful for learning how to live. I have learned from stories that I have heard from my all of my patients and co-workers about their life stories as related to health and wellness, love and loss, and I have learned so much about myself through this. Sometimes seeing patients so positive, loving, and gracious, despite fighting for every single day to be able to be with their loved ones a little longer, puts the little things that can sometimes seem so big, into perspective. I have learned not to live in regret, and that the only things that matter are the loved ones in my life, my health, be positive, and working together accomplishes so much more than working against one another.

From my experiences, if I am able to keep these all in perspective, I am living a good life; I am happy, I am positive, and I look forward to each day...even if my "to do" list isn't what I would want it to be. So thank you, Florence Nightingale, and all of the nurses before her, after her, and to all of us currently working, for making a difference in the lives of each person we come in contact with and for helping them when they need it most. Our jobs are really hard, and I am thankful for every single day!

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Emergency Cardiovascular Specialty: Surgery,Critical Care,Transplant,Neuro

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1 Comment(s)

GrumpyRN, NP

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 39 years experience.

I like your article, but I think Mary Seacole was perhaps a better role model, she went to the front line with the soldiers.

"Historians are now waking up to the shocking truth that the death toll at Nightingale's hospital was higher than at any other hospital in the East, and that her lack of knowledge of the disastrous sanitary conditions at Scutari was responsible. During her first winter at Scutari, 4,077 soldiers died there, ten times more from illnesses such as typhus, typhoid, cholera and dysentery, than from battle wounds. Conditions at the hospital were fatal to the men that Nightingale was trying to nurse: they were packed like sardines into an unventilated building on top of defective sewers." and "...when examined closely, the accepted doctrine that she saved soldiers' lives in her hospital suddenly dissolves before our eyes. And it has also allowed us to forget that Nightingale's priority on returning from the Crimea was not the reform of civilian nursing in Britain, but rather a thorough overhaul of the health of the army in peacetime."


BBC - History - Historic Figures: Mary Seacole (1805 - 1881)

Edited by GrumpyRN
Correcting link