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RadaRN: Nurse Magnetism

Around three hundred million people live in the United States. About three million of them are nurses. I make that one in a hundred.

This demographic worried me a bit when I first retired. Nurses just don’t share a shift or a workplace. They share a culture and a lifestyle. I wondered—and fretted—about what life would life be like when I wasn’t around a lot of nurses anymore.

What was I thinking? If you are a nurse, and do not live on a desert island, you cannot escape other nurses. And they cannot escape you.

The rule of Chaos Theory known as ‘strange attractors’ states that there is really focus and magnetism to seemingly chaotic and random social patterns. Nurses definitely have something like that going on. The only other thing similar to it that I can think of is gaydar.

Gaydar is the ability make an intuitive identification. The nurse-strange attractor thing is like that, but different. Consider this.

It is child’s play to pick working nurses out of a crowd. Once a nurse isn’t working, though, the characteristic nurse outfits, accessories and shift-related circadian rhythms are no longer in play.

How, then, do I always find the retired nurse in a crowd without even trying? For lack of a better word, I’m calling it radaRN. No offense meant to our LPN/LVN brethren. It’s my word and I’m counting you in it too.

When I first joined my new church, I was told to look out for someone named MaryAnn, who was a retired nurse. Two weeks later I tripped in a church hallway and fell at the feet of a 60ish blond woman. You know who it was.

Not much later, I plunked down onto a van seat for a day trip. The woman I chose to sit next to turned out to be a retired nurse too. Not MaryAnn. Another one. My new nurse friend and I decided to buddy up for yoga classes.

One day, my yoga nurse buddy couldn’t make class. I struck up a conversation with the woman on the yoga mat next door. She turned out to be a soon-to-retire OR nurse.

In another yoga class, I mentioned to a friendly fellow-yogi that I had worked as a psychiatric nurse. Her face lit up. “Are you a nurse too?” I asked.

“No”, she said, “but my husband is a psychiatric pharmacist.”

OK, so radaRN isn’t perfect.

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