Work Families: Where Nursing Shines

by Jacqueline.Damm Jacqueline.Damm

Specializes in Med/Surg, Onc., Palliative/Hospice, CPU. Has 3 years experience.

I think we can all agree that nursing is a profession unlike any other that can build the most interesting, hilarious, strongest relationships between all cohorts, backgrounds and lifestyles. Day to day experiences warrant multiple opportunities to lend a hand to another thus striking up conversation or a common interest. It seems safe to say that nursing friendships are among the deepest rooted, trust ridden and comical bonds in our rollercoaster lives… Or at least in mine!

Work Families: Where Nursing Shines

I was sitting at the nurse station on my unit when my boss walked by after interviewing a potential addition to our quirky team. All of us introduced ourselves and sent good wishes toward their endeavors. My boss piped up as we all began to sit back down to chart, "we are truly a family here, not just here for each other at work, but outside of work as well." After the candidate left, my orientee nudged me, 'do you guys really get along that well?' My boss' eyebrows went up, her eyes lit up and she said "Just ask her" winking at me.

I smiled knowing full well what my boss was implying.

My first job as a nurse was a bit chaotic. It was a young hospital trying to get to its feet and ironing out the kinks. At one point I found myself at a 9:1 ratio on a night shift. When I approached the supervisor as charge about my drowning team her response was "you will take as many patients as I tell you to." Despite the ratios, patient acuity and stress, my team always found a way to rally. Whether it was pranks, a kind word or support no matter what their situation was... We always made it through.

Fast forward some time to where I was working on a Cardiac Progressive Critical Care Unit. The learning curve hit me like a freight train. I didn't even know where to begin. My preceptorship and the help that followed as I ventured out on my own was limitless. As my ratios lessened a different kind of stress grew. These patients were fighting battles that warranted drips, constant focused monitoring and ACLS use more than I ever wanted to exercise. A new and different bond began to develop with my coworkers (whom I now call my 'work family'). It's like the level of care asked for more from all of us. More trust, more fight, more strength, more of everything. This is what my boss was talking about. This unshakeable bond between us that could have me call a fellow staff member on the unit for help and they were there, in an instant. Or, I could call them from home in desperation and once again there they would be.

My boss knew that I was the right person to explain our bond. I had exercised my "call for help" while at work many times and even outside of work. You know what? Inside and outside hospital walls there they were, showing up with support, kindness, understanding and power. It's one thing to have a working unit, it's another to have a work family. We lift each other up, keep each other in check and encourage one another when things get tough and it feels as though our light within is fizzling out.

My orientee laughed a little as I relished on my work family and their immense capabilities. I told him that he'd understand in time what I was talking about. He'd notice it and he'd sense it and soon it would become second nature. It seems now before I need them, before I look up someone is already there.

I love my friends and I love my family with every ounce of my being. But there is something to be said about the nursing World and how our bonds exceed expectations in friendships and our professional relationships in the workplace. I know that I can pump on a chest while they bag a patient to save their life. I know that I can call on them to double check my dopamine calculations before titrating a drip for a patient in septic shock. I know that I can have someone walk into a room with me to provide support to a patient and their family after they find out about a cancer diagnosis.

I know that I can call on them when not only I'm struggling in my work life but in my personal life as well.

It says something about all of us when we can lean on each other in tough times, high stress times, times of learning, fighting for our rights and our patients and in times of growing.

Mind you, a team isn't only nurses. Though we may make up a majority, I know I can lean on my people, my work family for anything.

And in turn, I'd do anything for them.

Tell me about your work family, how do they lift you up?


Jacquie loves writing about experiences of her own (as well as stories belonging to fellow nurses) with a dose of artistic flair and hyperbole. Happy reading!

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5 Comment(s)


traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,155 Posts

My absolute favorite nursing job was the 10 years I spent on nights at a level one trauma center in the midwest. We were such a cohesive team: we looked out for each other, we laughed, cried, were frustrated together and worked so well together.

Even though its been almost 10 years since I left the ER I still truly miss it every single day.


Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 21 years experience. 1 Article; 2,077 Posts

I'd venture to say that the best teamwork I've ever experienced was in the ED. I love being an ED nurse and the cohesion that is found there. Just the right mix of coworkers on a crazy shift makes it so much more bearable.



6 Posts

Thanks for the inspiring post. I start nursing school in January and I pray I end up working with a group of people like you describe. Aside from being in a position of helping people, I'm really looking forward to that bond I (hopefully) form with a group. I've always loved working with a team, and expected the bonds between nurses to be especially strong. So thanks for giving me hope!


nutella, MSN, RN

1 Article; 1,509 Posts

There is something special about nurses. I need to say that most of my best friends were nurses - there is something about this profession that only another nurse truly understands. The stress, the ambivalence, the regrets, the rewards and gratifications, the moments where exhaustion just wants to make you cry, the year of being a new graduate .....the list is long.

Also, it is hard to find friends outside of the profession who truly have compassion for the fact that we may not be able to party and go out because we have to work or that it is not an option to call out for a birthday coffee.

What I do not like is how management can (and will) use a good team and get away with under staffing because a good team will compensate for a lot by granting unlimited support to each other "to get the job done". I have worked in settings where it was evident that administration did not fill positions in a timely manner and instead of cutting the work load proceeded to increase it. While in a hospital staffing is somewhat regulated, it gets blurry in any other setting. The magic work "team effort" is still used to pressure nurses into accepting situation that no other profession would put up with.

vampiregirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 12 years experience. 1 Article; 781 Posts

For me, it's my hospice co-workers at my current position. We are a very diverse group who complement each other very well. There is a team atmosphere, and dedication to truly providing quality care to our patients and their families.

Until I became a part of this team, I didn't know that this type of atmosphere existed in nursing.