Why did I Choose to Become an RN? Nursing Chose Me

While I was working on my CCP this year, I was looking through the Entry-Level Competencies document and was reflecting on the different roles an RN takes on—Clinician, Professional, Communicator, Collaborator, Coordinator, Leader, Advocate, Educator and Scholar. And that’s exactly one of the reasons I adore this profession so much—the ability to access and play a variety of roles in many different areas. It’s easy to think about nursing in the clinical aspect—caring for patients in a hospital setting, administering medications, comforting patients and so on—but it actually provides such a broad array of opportunities to interact and support individuals, families, groups, communities and society in a multitude of capacities in clinical, education, administration, research and policy domains. Nursing provides an opportunity to work with all dimensions of human beings—spiritual, emotional, social, psychological and physical. We don’t just care for their bodies, but their minds and their spirits too.

One of the best roles I’ve had throughout my career thus far has been as a collaborator and an educator. After some time in a clinical role, I took a step into the educational realm, and while I was there, I was reminded of my own time as a student. I often get asked—especially by students—why did I choose to become a Registered Nurse? And as I’m sure many of my colleagues can attest—nursing chose me. Since I was young, I was always fascinated with the physical body. I grew up on a farm, so it was a regular occurrence that I would help vaccinate pigs or castrate cows or birth calves. I was exposed to the physiological aspects of life early on, and I was immediately intrigued. While my introduction to this type of care was with animals, my fundamental interest was people and what I could do to support them. When I was about 12, I assisted in caring for my dying grandmother and nurturing, caring and providing for her at her most vulnerable time fueled my desire to pursue nursing.

My biggest lesson from being a student—which I’ve integrated into being an educator and the rest of my career—is the importance of teamwork within the nursing profession and among other health care professions. I know this has now been more formalized in educational programs with interprofessional health care courses, conferences and clubs, but when I was in nursing school, we had to take it upon ourselves. And truthfully, it wasn’t because we wanted to make friends—which of course we did—but we simply quickly learned that we couldn’t get much done on our own. I had to rely on my teammates and coworkers, and they relied on me.

In the short period of time you’re being educated with other people, you make lifelong connections because you grow and learn and have many life-changing experiences together. I remember every member of my first-year clinical group vividly and still keep in touch with many of them. We spent hours together preparing for the clinical experience, sharing our nervousness and feelings of inadequacy, verbally reviewing the procedures we would be doing with our patients, checking out the meanings of multiple words in the diagnoses and reports that at the beginning were all so new to us. And even simple words and phrases that are now so commonly used could stymie us: “What the heck does the word ‘void’ mean?” “What does it mean to ‘check ins and outs’?” “Does ‘BP q4h’ mean I have to take it for four hours straight?” Together we shared our vulnerabilities, rejoiced in our learning and accomplishments, and had each other’s backs.

The bonds that we form very early in our careers are so important and we should be looking to extend those throughout our careers and to new nurses. The really important sentiment for all nurses to keep in mind is that we must mentor and nurture our new nurses—we’re all in this together, we are collaborators—so take a step back and remember when you first started in this profession. The nerves, the second guesses… we’ve all been there, so it’s crucial we support each other moving forward!

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