I remember seeing this quote attached this picture (see below) of a woman, whom I’ve always assumed to be a nurse after I had been a nurse for about 2 years, myself. This image has always had a powerful impact on me because, when I look at it, I can imagine this nurse doing or saying something to make the child more comfortable before a procedure. I can feel the tension being slowly released by the child, as her nurse makes her laugh. Maybe the nurse is making funny faces and sounds. Maybe the nurse is smiling and telling her a story. Maybe the nurse is singing a song with the little girl. We will never know.
This photograph, though it may very well be one of those stock nursing photos, is a powerful reminder of the blessing and burden of being a nurse. The picture of this “kneeling nurse” is iconic, for me personally, because it embodies the parts of nursing that can’t be taught or learned. The silent and occult part of nursing that goes unnoticed, both intentionally and unintentionally.
But, can I tell you a secret?
This is a picture of a rulebreaker, well at least in some professional circles. You see, here’s the problem, this picture shows someone breaking the rules. It displays someone, a professional at that, throwing caution to the wind, along with a dozen or so rules on professional boundaries, and another dozen rules about infection prevention.
I could imagine my former clinical instructors having a fit for you laying your head on a patient’s linens. Even though they’ve likely had moments like the one captured in that photograph, themselves. This doesn’t stem from nursing instructor and professionals having cold-hearts, nor do I wish to paint that picture of such nurses.
The truth is this image defies the sometimes detached “professionalism” that is promoted in nursing textbooks and policies. It admits to our administrators, our families, our patient’s, and our colleagues that we are something less than professional, at least sometimes. This photograph acknowledges that we are something less than the angels to whom we are so often and unfairly compared to. Images like these display nurses just for what we really are……. human. Humans who are just trying to relate to other humans. Humans who know that sometimes pet names are actually ok to use and that sometimes your patients need someone to hold them, scold them, hold them accountable, or make them give a care for themselves or their family. We do this to help them to complete a process. We do these, humans things because they help our patients to grow and move on in life and they help us to grow and move on.
I sometimes wonder, when we began to criminalize human behavior in nursing, or in any profession? When did it become a crime for nurses to descend from our supposed angelic post and become human again? Why is it that we, all of us in health care, are expected to transcend being human while do our incredibly stressful jobs?
It is my hope, that through a calculated mix of storytelling, tip sharing, and honesty, that I can introduce you to the best part of nursing. The human side. The side that still has flaws, but is made better by those flaws. Welcome to my little corner of the internet. The corner where the kids who stare death in the face come to share their knowledge, experiences, and wisdom. If you’re searching for the truth about nursing, the sometimes nerve-wracking, frustrating, yet beautiful truth ….. then you’ve come to the right place.
Welcome to the Art and Science that is Nursing!
Patrick McMurray, BSN, RN