Is a Nurse Still a Nurse No Matter Where You Are?
Most of the time, nurses are also employees. We go to work, and we leave work. While we are at our workplace, we practice nursing. Does that mean that I am only a nurse when I am on the clock and cease being a nurse when I am not at work? When that time card gets punched as I leave my workplace, do my nursing skills remain behind or do they come with me?
My husband is a Christian pastor, and we (along with our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters) are currently living in the Eastern European country of Romania. Our mission here is open-ended, meaning we have no idea how long we will be here. This also means, at least for the time being, that my American registered nursing license is nothing more than a piece of paper. I have no workplace in which I can use my nursing skills. Am I still a nurse?
To address this question, we need to look at what nursing really is. Is nursing a job or a way of life? For example, we have all received the after-hours phone calls…from neighbors, family members, or friends who are asking if we can give them advice based on our medical knowledge. Perhaps they have a strange, sudden pain, are undergoing a medical test they don’t understand, or have a sick child at home, and they need advice because “you’re a nurse.” In light of these requests for help, I think that the nursing that I have done outside of the job has been, in many ways, more vital than my on-the-job nursing. You can reach and serve people who are not confined to a hospital or nursing home. It’s a big risk (what if I tell them the wrong thing?), but at the same time, we have the opportunity to touch people’s lives who may never go close to a doctor’s office.
As you can imagine, the standard of living in Romania is somewhat below that which is found in most of the United States. The people in the cities live relatively well, but there are thousands of villages where people live in shacks with dirt floors and holes in the walls. This is a country where there are four months of hard freeze every winter. How do these folks survive? And further, what can one little middle-aged American nurse do in the face of so much need? I can do one thing at a time. I can answer a medical question, give some advice, provide a heavy coat, or change a dressing. I can also do lots and lots of praying.
The point is that each of us, as nurses, are going to encounter situations in our lives where we can serve our fellow human beings outside of our workplaces. There are circumstances where we cannot practice as a registered nurse. However, we can still maintain that attitude of servanthood and service to those around us. And isn’t that what being a nurse is all about anyway?
To follow Susan and her family through their adventures in Romania, visit http://kieffersinromania.wordpress.com.
This article was shared with us by NurseTogether.com.
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