Nursing as a Calling

When I was a young girl, I loved cleaning and bandaging wounds.  I didn’t care if they were mine, my baby dolls’, my brothers’ or sisters’, or the dog’s.  I’d use hydrogen peroxide, bactine, merthiolate or just good old soap and water, until I thought the wound was clean.  I would usually decide that a huge bandage was needed.  I loved playing nurse.

When I was nine years old, a personal incident inspired me to want to enter the field of nursing.  My father was in the yard working in the garden.  He called for me to come outside and help him.  As I ran to my bedroom to get my shoes, I heard one of the neighbors calling my mom.  She said daddy was lying on the ground, and she had called for an ambulance.  The nurse across the street ran over to give my dad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and was doing something to his chest.  The ambulance arrived, but my dad was already dead.

I later asked way that nurse had been pushing on my dad’s chest.  I was told she was doing CPR, and sometimes if done correctly and at the right time, it could save a person’s life.  How wonderful it would be if I knew CPR and could try to help someone’s dad or relative, like that nurse had tried to help my dad.

I began wondering about all the other things nurses must know.  It would be so wonderful to be educated in health, medicine, and nursing, I’d then be able to teach everyone I knew how to take care of themselves and their families.  What a contribution to society I could make!

I’ve had days when patients or their families have thanked me for taking such good care of them or their relatives.  My peers or co-workers have expressed appreciation that made the day worth my exhausted feet, brain and body.

Nursing is many professions under one title.  We are the eyes for the doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We are caregivers, teachers, and therapists.  We use our knowledge of psychiatry, pharmacy and secretarial skills.  I’ve seen many changes in nursing over the past 15 years. 

One of the biggest challenges I see for the future of nursing is for the nurse to continue to be able to look beyond all the technology and remember that there may be a sick, frightened, and insecure person who needs us, trusts us, and relies on our expertise to care for him.  Nurses need to share those intimate moments of compassion and caring despite all the high tech machinery. We need to share heart-to-heart moments with our patients.

Through my daily life, I’m thankful and proud that I’m a nurse.  I use my nursing  whether I’m on duty in the hospital, at home or visiting friends or relatives.  Now that I’m a wife and mother, I frequently turn to nursing.  Preparing nutritional meals, cleansing wounds, administering medications, treating injuries are all examples of nursing in the home.

Through nursing I’ve learned to maintain composure during emergencies.  This really came in handy the night my Great Dane ran through my sliding glass door.  I even assisted the vet in surgery.  I once did the Heimlich maneuver on my brother’s Collie who was choking.  My neighbors and relatives know that I’m a nurse.  I am frequently asked advice on diabetes, side effects and incompatibilities of medications, to check blood pressures, explain procedures and surgeries, recommend doctors and surgeons, as well as teach good health and nutrition.

Through nursing I have learned to make sound decisions.  I’ve learned to be very organized and thorough.  I love medicine.  I love nursing.  It may be exhausting, but it sure is fun.  The patients are my reward.  I will always celebrate that I am a nurse.

Sheryl A. Clifton, RN

Nursing Management, Riverside Regional Medical Center


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