Friday, January 30, 2009

My Sister the Nurse

My sisters are both amazing women (they just returned from a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru). Andrea, my youngest sister, is currently a senior nursing student graduating this Spring. Recently, her professors selected her as the nursing student at Bradley who most embodies the spirit of nursing. She's also eligible for a national award. She was asked to write an entrance essay -- it moved me so much that I wanted to share her words, with Andi's permission:

In my college experience, I have seen incredible beauty and suffered devastating losses, and my practice of nursing is rich because of that. Although I may not know how to define the Spirit of Nursing, I can certainly sense and feel the power of it. I see it as a nurse kneels to pray for her hospice patient late at night, long after her shift has ended. I see it in the grateful smile of a young girl when I playfully suggest we pretend we're at the beautiful parlor as I wash the lice out of her hair. I hear it as an elderly woman tells me her life's stories and wisdom, aware that her health is failing. I smell it in the smoky hug of a homeless man whose sore feet I have washed, and in the sweet scent of a healthy baby whose birth I witnessed only moments prior. I feel it when a man with COPD grips my hand in fear, and a child who's been deserted at a crisis nursery curls up in my lap to be loved. I feel the spirit deep in my soul every time a patient or family member thanks me for being there.

Each of these encounters has taken place in my few years of studying nursing. The homeless man was a mental health patient who became very dear to me, and that young girl at the "beauty parlor" resided at the same shelter as he. The elderly woman was my first patient, and from her I learned invaluable lessons. That sweet-smelling baby was my darling niece, and that hospice nurse knelt beside my very own mother. I strive to keep the compassionate Spirit of Nursing safe in my heart to spread to all my patients, because caring for the ones I love through illness has led me to this honorable, brave and sometimes painful profession. It's painful in the sense that it reminds me of those closest to me who have suffered heart conditions and cancer. However, my father once told me your happiness runs as deep as your pain. And it is that profound pain and happiness that compels me to care for each of my patients as I would my own loved ones. The nursing profession allows us to give a piece of ourselves to our patients. It may not be in the job description, but that's all part of the Spirit of Nursing.


Chelsea said...

What a beautiful essay! It brought tears to my eyes. It sounds like her professors made the right choice in selecting her!

Johanna said...

What beautiful words, Andie! Congratulations!