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The Art of Caring

In nursing school, I was taught that caring is an art, not a science. It is something that can be taught, but is mastered over time. I believe the word, caring, is a verb - an action. Caring is when a person feels compelled in his heart to do something - to help in whatever way they can because a person or a situation requires it. To feel compassion and sympathy for someone or something is the beginning of the caring process. However, just mere feelings, if not followed with an action is not caring at all. To care means someone has to do something, i.e. to help make someones life better. Conversely, when someone says, “I don’t care”, they don’t even think about a person or a situation, let alone do something about it to help. When you act on your good intentions, you care.

I got into the caring profession with the desire to do something that makes a difference in people’s lives. However, I didn’t want to become a nurse. I wanted to become a doctor because it’s a more glamorous job. I thought nurses play second fiddle in providing care. I thought, if doctors are skilled, talented, and caring, nurses are too, but just a couple of steps lower. I think it would be fair to say that I accidentally got into the nursing profession. In my mid 20’s, I thought it was too late for me to start a career in medicine, so I enrolled in nursing school instead. My first year of working as a nurse was exciting, shocking and awkward. Exciting because I was in the middle of the action of taking care of people. Shocking because I did not realize how much work it is to be a nurse, to be fully responsible for someones life (and death). Awkward because I was secretly regretting not pursuing a medical career, so I can do more things for my patients…the more glamorous things.

It is after working for a couple of years as a nurse when things start to dawn on me that my job is actually very important. Although doing a bed bath or cleaning up someone after a dirty diaper is not at all glamorous, I start to see the impact of my job as a nurse to my patients and their families. I start to see that a person who just got out of a major surgery completely relies on me to do every single thing; and that I advocate for my patients to get better care, even by just asking the doctor to increase someone’s dose for pain medication because the current dose just doesn’t cut the pain. And often times, I support families by helping them navigate through the health care system by redirecting them to the proper support avenues that could help them with their needs. One of my biggest epiphany that my job as a nurse is invaluable is when I gave birth to my first child. For the first time in my life, I was at the receiving end of a major health care situation. I was anxious and in a lot of pain, but the nurses who looked after me were amazing. They are the most highly skilled individuals who assisted me in childbirth, yet the most humble of all.

As I practice my nursing profession, I continue to learn more about life and stages of life through first hand experiences. Knowing that I, as a nurse, has helped many patients and their families in their most vulnerable times, makes me feel so proud of what I do. I make a difference in people’s lives! Every day, I am thankful to God that I am given the opportunity to act on my concerns for my patient’s health situation. Through my nursing profession, I am able to continue to practice and someday be a master of the art of caring.