Today is International Nurses’ Day and being a nurse myself I know how important it is for us to have this day of recognition. Being a nurse isn’t an easy career. In fact, it isn’t a career, it’s a vocation. We are born to be nurses, it’s not a choice it’s in our blood. I don’t remember a time when I wanted to be anything but a nurse. And I don’t know any nurses who didn’t always want to be one either.
Being a nurse first and foremost means putting others before ourselves. We are advocates for every single person who walks through the door of our workplaces. We want only the best for them. We skip breaks, continuously leave work late and forget about our own needs. Just to make sure our patients have the best care.
Last night I got home from a 12.5 hour shift. I had had my lunch break at 6:30pm. Yes, lunch, at 6:30pm! One of my patients had steadily become more unwell through the course of the day and until I knew he was stable and a bit better, I didn’t want to disappear for half an hour to go and sit down.
This isn’t an unusual example, most of my colleagues have had the same thing happen to them. Because we just don’t think of ourselves first. Some days I don’t even manage to get time to go to the loo when I’m on shift. Of course, I will think ‘I need the loo’ at lunchtime but something comes up and I forget about my needs. It’s only when I get home that I realise I haven’t been all day!
Staying hydrated is something we are all guilty of not doing. We preach to our patients about how important it is to stay well hydrated. ‘ Please make sure you drink at least 1-2 litres a day’ is something that regularly comes out of my mouth. Yesterday I didn’t even finish a 500ml bottle of water. I should probably start listening to myself!
But even though we all experience days when we don’t have time to eat, drink, wee or sit down, we come back day after day. We clear up sick, poo, wee, all with a smile on our faces (even if it is a bit of a forced one..!) and we never complain about it. I’m pretty sure in a lot of other jobs none of this would happen! Especially not for the pay we get either!
Why? Because we love what we do. Our passion is to care for others. To make sure we are doing our best for those we look after. To put others before ourselves. I can’t even start to tell you how good it feels when you see someone go from being so unwell they can barely get out of bed, to walking out of the door feeling 100 times better. Knowing you helped them get there. Even if it was just sitting and listening to them, holding their hand when they felt rubbish or giving them a big smile when they were feeling a bit down. It’s these little gestures that make a patient’s day.
So Happy Nurses’ Day to all my friends and colleagues, and to any nurses reading this now. And if you aren’t one but you know a nurse, please wish them a Happy Nurses’ Day and show them your appreciation!