To be honest…with Maddy Comeau

To be honest, no one will ever understand what it’s like to be a nursing major. Even nurses who have been in the profession for several decades have a hard time defining what they do or why they chose to be a nurse when asked. Simply responding, “I help people” is a cliché, but to truly define our role would take probably more than half an hour.

While most individuals work a monotonous nine to five desk job, the life of nurse can constitute practically anything. Even trying to explain your work life to your spouse or significant other can be hard. When they ask what you did at work, how do you articulate your day’s events? You may have started the heart of a flatilining patient, delivered a baby, provided comfort to a dying patient or made a person suffering from a traumatic injury laugh again.

With this profession comes insurmountable joy. The ability to save lives is what drives every nurse to show up to work and provide the greatest amount of quality care that they can. However, along with this privilege comes behind the scenes battles that no one except our fellow nurses will ever be able to comprehend. They understand when a patient dies unexpectedly or how a small error could alter the trajectory of a life. There are daily struggles of stress and anxiety. We juggle every area of our lives so that others don’t notice our fatigue. These examples are only merely touching the surface of the challenges of nursing.

Constantly providing selfless acts is a difficult virtue to develop. We put the care of our patients before our own and do it without ever needing recognition or acknowledgement. Sometimes, we endure verbal abuse from families or disoriented patients and have to smile and move on with our day. Nursing is an extremely physical job, but we push through discomfort to provide quality care to our patients.

With all of the challenges, however, comes a profession full of the most rewarding situations and experiences. The lives that nurses get to impact and heal make every difficult situation worth it. We thrive on making a patient smile and knowing that, if even for a few moments, we were able to make someone more comfortable. The ability to heal or care for someone in their most vulnerable state is the most rewarding and humbling experience, and as nurses we wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Photo by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe.

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